At our school (Dojo) our classes are in a continuous state of modification (and hopefully, improvement). Over the prior year, my (personal) objective has been to reduce any excessive and/or non-essential techniques/instruction that we provide to our students.
That pursuit can (easily, LOL) cause one to eliminate subjects that are not always directly (at least not in the typically “obvious” manor) relevant (to life protection training), yet none the less provide information/instruction which is (In Our Opinion) beneficial to the student.
It is because of that factor, that it is not always as “cut and dried” as it might at first seem to be (when eliminating any superfluous instruction and/or practices).
Those things that were (originally) based upon false premisses, where simple enough to recognize (head height/spinning kicks, etc.). It was the “accepted” practices that were more difficult to discard (competitive sparring, retraction of kicks, “tight” fists), these were practices that were popularly held assumptions (if not beliefs) amongst the “martial art” community as a whole.
This included the beliefs of prospective students as well. In the quest to be “informed” consumer's, the imminent student will (tend to) peruse the internet in search of information. Unfortunately, the vast majority of that information is tainted (with the monetary desire to attract students).
Thus many of those prospective students (customer's) will be distracted towards whatever the latest Fad happens to be. Though seemingly related, the majority of those gimmicks have little, to nothing to do with any defensive Life-Protection training.
The vast majority of what is commercially available to the prospective Life-Protection student, consists of body-conditioning/awareness classes.
There's nothing (necessarily) wrong with that (premiss). It's just that rarely will anything that is taught/shown (in those types of classes) tend to be useful during a physical confrontation (if/when the option to “run” isn't available).
Avoidance, (when applicable) is usually the easiest/best option. But, student's are usually seeking instruction in what to do when they haven't been able to avoid those bad situations (and the option to leave, just doesn't exist).
With that premiss in mind, we feel that it is important to avoid the inclusion of anything that doesn't add to the betterment/improvement of our students defensive training.
Using this guideline, we emphasize a large amount of training in Tuite, followed with defensive response training for various types of attempted strikes (commonly) being made against/upon the student.
A large portion of our students initial instruction is gravitated towards body motion. That can pertain to (both) their own body as well as that of an aggressor.
This is accomplished through the practice of exercises and that of performing the instructed kata. Though often frowned upon by (some) other systems, we utilize kata to practice and illustrate numerous (body) motions. Both of/for the student, and that of an aggressor.
These motions are then reviewed in (our version of) 1-2 step kumite. Though practiced slow initially (when first learning the motions), these combinations are speed-up as the student progresses.
When student's become comfortable with the shown motions, we will include the wearing of protective gear (commonly, being worn by only one of the participants, and not necessarily always being the uke). Once the protective gear is included, the motions can usually be (safely) practiced at full-speed.
This differs (greatly) from the common practice of “sparring”, in that it is utilized explicitly as an exercise (by/for our students). This is defined (by us, at our school) as a full-speed practice of shown technique. There are no “points” included in this manor of practice, it is not a competition. It is an exercise, used to illustrate “functionality” or “failure” (on the part of the participants).
I'm inclined to believe that is what should be most essential to any form/manner of training.