I met a student at Corky's place who had not experienced 'normal' aikido and she seemed to be progressing really well. In fact her non exposure to technique based practice was probably working in her favour.
In the end I may well end up doing both as you suggest and see where that takes me. Until I do I will not know the answer. I guess that some dojo heads are more open to incorporating new ideas.regards,
A little bit about Joyce, Mark, a middle-aged woman with no martial arts experience, she is capable of manifesting exquisitely performed aikido - like the rest of us - when she is extending beneficent intention no matter how obnoxiously I grip her!
Another student, a boy of eight when he started and was never shown a single technique at the age of ten flawlessly manifested a shihonage with an adult attacker. We yudansha all gasped in unison and said "He did shihonage!" He said "What?!? What did I do???"
Beginners in our dojo never learn techniques per se, but learn all the movements incorporated in aikido in a series of kata which I refer to as "stretches" and "spots" rather than attacks and techniques. It's not unusual to see aikido techniques executed without an attacker. Imagine the attack following the path of the technique without nage there. That would be a stretch (pun NOT intended, lol). Accompanying that is training in "spotting," incorporating the word in its use in gymnastics or weightlifting, that is to be involved with what your partner is doing without interferring.
Labeling and treating the attacks as stretches instead of attacks has a limbic effect. The body reacts much differently when someone moving at you is attacking versus stretching in your direction. Where you respond to attack reflexively constricting flows of ki, when you view what you do as supporting someone else, the flood gates of ki open and the "stretcher" gets a non-defensive response. Here is a chart of fundamental stretches and spots with vid clips linked to the names of the movement set.
The vernacular is a little different to much of what aikidoka label various things, but the naming has been an attempt (and a work in progress) to organize the teaching into a structure that can accomplish the goals of teaching beginners aikido outside of a technique emulation practice.
In this method, beginners never get the idea that aikido is to throw, they only get that it is to support, starting from the first lesson.