Actually, I am not really cruel. As I once pointed out to a student many years ago, you have to care to be cruel. I can still picture their shocked and crestfallen face. But that is another story. Today I am talking about tai sabaki and why we do so many every class.
The theory and hope is that by doing them enough, eventually they will become inherent in the body movements of the student. That when placed under pressure from an attack, they will, without conscious thought, simple execute one of their basic turns.
The extreme repetition is designed to carve new pathways in the brain so that students may, eventually, move, not just with a reaction, but with a fluid, intuitive motion that correctly matches and counters any given attack. It is one of the first steps towards mastery and wu wei.
Tai sabaki set the student up for both avoidance and balance breaking preparatory to executing a technique; they are the physical embodiment of fundamental principles.
How many repetitions are needed before the connection between the seemingly endless turns at the beginning of every class and the student actually using them in a kakari keiko situation is actually made?
Obviously this varies from individual to individual, but I do have mudansha that have conservatively reached 15 000 to 20 000 repetitions of each turn and still nothing. I know they are in there somewhere, just waiting to come out. I know this because history, experience and my yudansha, clearly demonstrate it to be so.
And so the repetition continues.
For my weapons students, nota bene, all of the above applies equally to your suburi.