We never use the term oyo waza but applied techniques sounds very like variations. Don't get me wrong I think applied techniques and knife defenses are very important both to the art and self-defence; knife defence is one of my favourite things to do because I think it is so useful and it really tests your reactions and muscle memory. Perhaps I have not found the harmony and balance between them in myself. The month or so leading up to a grading is quite a stressful time just because there is so much to practice and sometimes when you don't have a regular uke it is hard to feel like you are making progress because you have to constantly adjust to a new body type/strength/agility/skill level etc. I think that is what has caused my training to suffer (if indeed it ever has suffered) the most not having a regular training partner.
Have you visited any other dojos yet? I'm curious as to hear how you felt experiencing a different art. A recent experience has solidified my view that we are just practicing Jujutsu.