I'll tell you an example of what I do in class, and how I try to incorporate "aliveness" as much as possible, and you tell me if its close to what you do or way off base.
I willl start with a traditional kata. Jumonji no kata for example. Get the body mechanics, distance, timing,balance, structure etc as perfect as possible within the paramaters of Bujinkan kata training. Uke tori relationship with a set attack and set response without any unknown variables, for the most part.
I will then extract what * I
* believe to be the core elements of the kata. This usually means leaving out some "classical" elements and replacing them with something more "practical" . For example in jumonji no kata, I would work on the simple idea of moving off the line of attack by shifting to the rear leg (withoutout giving up any ground) , followed by a counter strike by the lead hand to the body and an immediate jab to the face with the lead as you retreat (or the jab can set up a cross for moving forward).
I usually try to then set up a drill that has as many unknown variables as possible while still maintaining some structure.
For example, "attacker" will make 4 attacks of any kind, and initates action. "Defender" will commit to 2 attacks. The first must be a counter attack, but may come at any time in the sequence of the attackers random strikes....and the defender must
follow up the counter strike with something else.
heheh sounds confusing? Maybe it is.
We will then try to incorporate the bare minimal jumonji no kata to the above drill. Evade , lead counterattack low , jab/metsubishi high, move.
Eventually the idea would be to work up from the bare minimal kata, by increasingly adding on the other elements of the classical kata like the balance disrupting uke nagashi, boshi ken etc....and seeing how close we can get it to the classic kata (proper Bujinkan kamae, distance etc) while still maintaining the increased speed and unknown variables.
Make sense? Or am I making it harder then I need to.
I hope this is not considered a thread hijack.