Re: Unifying the theories
In general, I believe our early foundation instruction should be simple, clear and generalized to meet the basic functions of training. This curriculum should include body awareness, defense, offense and kata. I think there is some variance in the specific curriculum from dojo to dojo here as the curriculum may be tailored to cover the spectrum of education not present in the dojo. I think once a student shows competence in these basic concepts, you can get fancy.
I have no opinion yet whether internal focus or external focus carries an advantage in training. I think that is largely dependent on the makeup of the dojo members. I know a couple of dojos moving more aiki and less kata. I'll be happy to share anything that I learn from those dojos.
I think a good curriculum should cover a spectrum of topics relevant to overall competency. When I was in college, we called these core curriculum and regardless of your eventual choice of major, you were required to demonstrate competency in a basic core of educational topics. I also definitely believe there is an order of things - that is, a time in our training when we are most receptive to comprehending certain subject material. I think often aikido programs screw this up and put a run before walking aspect to training.