Within the first few days, I always try to teach:
- a forward throw
- a backward throw
- a pin
- a turnover into a pin
Back in the old days (even older than me), many people spent the first few weeks teaching falling. Personally, I think that is one of the dumbest ideas ever. In my classes, we spend 10 or 15 minutes learning to fall the first day, and 5 minutes or so in most classes after that. I hear instructors say that falling is the most important part of judo. I think that's like saying getting pinned is the most important part of wrestling.
Usually the very first throw I teach is either o soto gari (an outside leg sweep) or ippon seoi nage (one armed shoulder throw). Teaching both a backward throw and a forward throw is pretty obvious. You want to be able to throw your opponent regardless of the direction he or she is moving.
Why those particular throws? It seems to me that ippon seoi nage is a good choice because the student has to get the habit of pulling the opponent off balance, turning and putting both feet facing in the opposite direction in front of the opponent and lowering the center of gravity.
Other throws could probably do just as well to teach those same points.
What about you? What do you teach first?