... give them the understanding that we are simulating weapon attacks. It then makes a lot more sense to avoid the attack with blending movement rather trying to block with your arms, hands or head.
In the children classes that I teach, I spend time every week having them (without doing technique) avoid and enter against a shinai shomenuchi or munetski attack. I think it helps drill into them the concept of getting out of the way, positioning and to treat all attacks as though there might be a weapon - blunt or bladed.
To quibble. "Avoiding" an attack is -- IMO -- not practically possible. Predators take prey unawares -- it's just what they do. There is no avoiding an attack because practically speaking an attack is well-begun before the would-be victim is aware of beginning. "Engaging" the attack on the other hand, can occur at any point before impact, where avoiding the attack may simply be impossible. Evasion largely means getting cut, just a bit later.
I try to teach the concept of engaging in shear -- as with blades -- they come into instantaneous and yet sliding contact and yet never really collide with one another -- like scissors, they are in constant sliding contact and one never cuts the other.
Same principle works in tai-jutsu -- because when the monouchi is over my head -- I can touch his hand. Tegatana to tegatana. With irimi-tenkan -- that weapon he thought he had is no longer the relevant point of the engagement. His tegatana becomes mine to cut with.
What began as go no sen
from my perspective -- on contact becomes sensen no sen
from his perspective. In other words, as O Sensei said, "I am already behind him." In another sense, he began with his sphere of control encompassed by his weapon, whereas I began with my sphere of control encompassing him -- because HE is my weapon -- against himself.
Suriage. Suriotoshi. Kiriage. Kiriotoshi. These engagements of the attack all work, blade or no blade.