Some recent newcomers commented on the use of evasion first. It's a simple but effective strategy. Get off the line of the attack and defend or counter attack. What became apparent to me after this comment was the eventual migration we make to, irimi - entering.
We can't gain confidence in this until we have trained ourselves to defend by escaping, parrying, retreating. Once we have confidence in being able to get out of the way or escape an attack, then we can attempt the entering - irimi, mindset. This is more apparent perhaps when we study kenjutsu. Entering is almost always safer than retreating. But initially, we have to build our bodies confidence up with retreating off the line of attack. The new students saw the benefit in this but weren't convinced, as yet, that entering is often safer. Little steps.
Travis de Clifford
Sessa Takuma dojo