Objective: to learn Aikido as a martial art (there can be many objectives, and each may require a different approach, so for simplicity we need to choose one first)
2nd objective: to be able to apply Aikido in a situation of reasonable averages (I.e. realistically against common level assailants, not some super duper master of kung fu out to rule the world)
1. Requires competency to attack as an attacker of average skill minimum.
This is necessary to experience biofeedback on Aikido being applied against such as an attack from the POV of the attacker itself.
2. Reasonable body flexibility and hardiness to survive the outcome of such an attack in a controlled environment and semi controlled response.
The aikido application would not be waza nor would it be full blown goshin. But since it cannot be a kata based, the eventual position uke will end up in is very hard to predict, thus there will be inherent risks involved which can be minimized if rules of engagement are explained early on and a the space is equipped with protective mats. Rules could be, attack with force and without warning, but as soon as critical areas of uke's body have been addressed by nage and balance is lost such that he is now in an untenable position, he needs to relax and allow himself to be safely positioned into the mat.
That's the first stage as an introducer to Aikido. Classes cannot go on like that. Even Systema with its natural approach to class learning requires more body conditioning and drills rather than uncheorographed sessions for the students to get anywhere.
2nd stage is body conditioning: Aiki taiso and tai sabaki and ukemi. These are body skills designed to create measurable improvements to your physical make up and skills in order to engage in Aikido learning.
3rd stage are kihon waza and genri. Kihon kata and kihon principles will equip students will aikido learning sets in order for them to understand the various languages and interpretations of their Sensei, shihan, peers, sempai and other sensei's. The basics provide them the common ground to communicate between Aikidoka's of different nations so to speak. The babel fish.
4th and onwards. This should begin at shodan typically, where henka, kaeshi, Aiki, an etc are introduced. First by gradual transition from kihon and nagare applications. Then to goshin. Then to anything goes situations.
The process for learning real aikido begins.
Fwiw, those are my thoughts.
Thanks a lot Ahmad, I really appreciate your very straight forward explanation and I love that things are straight forward because often things can become too complicated if we start with the advanced
principles first and work our way towards the basics.