"How to best structure a syllabus or set up a training program is a topic that seems to be coming up a lot in various places and that may be something to explore in another thread?"
Taking a cue from Iain here.
I have long believed that everyone should be able to throw their belts in a heap and a visitor should be able to tell 'who's who' by the quality of their skills, not the quantity.
In my former style the syllabus grew and grew until it was one of the most comprehensive in karate. No stone was left unturned. The down side was people expected to test every three months, and having sharpened up to pass they immediately 'turned the page' to look what they needed to learn for their next belt ...
On joining Enshin, I asked for a copy of the syllabus from the (Japanese) chief instructor and he just gave me a curious look. He genuinely didn't understand what I meant. In Enshin the kihon (basics) are condensed into a routine that is repeated each session, and the difference between low grades and high grades is in the power and smoothness they can demonstrate in these key skills, not the number of variations/new techniques they know.
So I can see both sides here. The former gives a defined and orderly ladder to climb, the latter seems at first sight to lack structure but with personal effort and dedication students get very strong. Doing the same thing every session can get 'boring' for some but coping with that and keeping focussed sets us on the road to getting mentally stronger. Only by drilling skills repeatedly can we hope to rely on them. In Enshin there is only one kata per grade and as they get technically more difficult more advanced moves and combinations are introduced. (I suppose that could be counted as a syllabus of sorts)
Having tried both ways my own preference is 'no syllabus'. It provides a real incentive to improve core skills rather than simply learning a few more moves every three months. I look forward to debating this topic.