I'm pretty much brand-new with martial arts, starting Shotokan just back in April 2015. (Pretty much brand-new to any exercise at all, I confess.) I've searched the site for "white belt" and "beginning" looking for this topic, but didn't find anything - please forgive me if it's out there and I've missed it.
Being a really white belt, I'd like some thoughts on what to focus on as I begin to study the kata and kihon.
I'm in 100% agreement that self-defense begins with awareness, assessment, avoidance, de-escalation, and understanding of legal issues. But being able to fight & escape alive should those thing fail is a big part of why I began training.
While I'm at class, if I focus too much on application, I distract myself from learning the basics (i.e., if I'm too worried about what I would do with the hiki-te, then I forget to pull it back at all, or mix up my feet, otherwise look like the bumbling fool I am, etc.) But if I stay too deeply "in the moment" and just try to learn inch-perfect basics, I'm worried I'll focus on learning to dance and not to fight.
Is it too early for me to think about this, and should I just focus on basics? And at what point should I actually become somewhat better at defending myself against a physical assault? Six months, a year, 5 years...?
For what it's worth, the instructors at my dojo often make comments like "this turning downblock is really a throw"...so I think the kinds of kata application discussed here are where I'll end up eventually. Maybe I'm just (too) impatient?
Thanks to all in advance, and thanks to Mr. Abernethy Sensei for his very useful info and very helpful attitude.