The problem lies, Mike, in a lack of re-construction after the de-construction. What we have throughout the world in Uechi Ryu is way too many people doing terrific white belt kata.
One of the things I try very hard to do in teaching is to go up and down the scale of tearing down and building up - in the same classroom lesson
. I don't worry that I lose 70-80 percent of the class as I layer on the final few elements and do the continuous flow move. I WILL lose people. It's somewhat akin to putting a kid on a bike and having them just peddle while you hold the seat and run beside them. Day by day, more and more people get it. And then they have a profound understanding of what they are doing. And when they do, then you can unleash them into their own creative paths.
Entropy prevails in our practice. Without work, people accumulate a lot of very dangerous bad habits. Good teachers can see these, isolate them, work on fixing that one nasty bug, and then put it back together again. One useful lesson to learn is how to take someone who mostly has it together and not completely hamstring them with a one-size-fits-all process. It is very much possible to overteach a good ("natural") athlete. Instead what a talented teacher needs to do is isolate the bad parts from a fundamental understanding of what they are doing, get the person to correct it, and then get them back in their natural flow without losing "movement in context" which they may already do very well.
Last night was a great example of how to do this. I was having people do "shadow dan kumite" - going through the movements without a partner. Movement is REALLY important in the way I teach my yakusoku kumite. I would go so far as to say many people wouldn't recognize the finished product, what with the way the students have learned to get off the line of force as opposed to backing up. But back to the subject... I did the "FREEZE!" exercise last night. I was showing people how UNIFORMLY they were completing one move without having the next move ready to go. I compare it to how I try to teach my son to play chess. Every move - including an "escape" from check - is about attacking and winning. Every defense is really a hidden offensive move helping you set up your game plan. First moves are all about getting in fast so you don't lead with a hole that a defensive fighter can exploit. BUT... while
doing that first move, the body should be preparing the next move so it comes on before the defender can regain control of their center. In my "FREEZE!" exercise, I show people how they are completing one move, and then pausing into a "Now what?" mode, having to start that next move de novo. Nope... You CAN teach people how to have that next move completely loaded (muscles pre-stretched and stretch reflexes firing) and ready to go when the first move is hitting its target. Yes, this CAN be taught.
The flow drills Jim talks about are another path to this. Sometimes you just need to work on flow in many different ways. The more ways of attacking a problem, the more likely one or more of the methods will work. My favorite thing to do is various slo-mo sparring drills. This works particularly well in my barroom brawl scenario training where taking things one-at-a-time will get you swarmed in no time. There's nothing like some occasional humiliation and destruction to help you "get" the point - all in good humor of course.