Re: When to introduce breakfalls
I guess I could tell you how not to introduce breakfalls. I'm pretty sure I told you before, but I gained a very strong mental block against rolls and breakfalls as a result of someone throwing me into a breakfall in my 2nd class (my pre-Florida Aikikai dojo). However, unlike what you're doing, I wasn't taught how to breakfall. I was told I was going to roll and then thrown hard into a breakfall (the one of Jun's definition). I was pretty freaked for a while after that. It took me two months to learn to roll. I learned to breakfall technically a few months later, but never really embraced breakfalls especially the koshi variety until recently.
But as you know, I come from a roll first, then breakfall, dojo. Peter, once told me that breakfalls are just a roll in the air so a breakfall should just naturally evolve out of the roll. This is very similar to Mary's experience except I was actually formally taught to breakfall by a couple of very patient sempai (Gene and Silvia).
I have a question for you. Am I to infer that you are saying that you believe people are less likely to leave if expected to learn to breakfall first? I took two classes of Karate in my Freshman year of college and quit because they were teaching us to breakfall, a high backfall actually, on the first and second nights and I just got too frustrated, and freaked. I was receiving a lot better guidance in that class than in my first aikido dojo, and still left. I know after my experience in college if I walked into a school, and watched a class and was told I would be learning to breakfall on the first night I would not have come back.