Basic techniques are learned through repetitive sword "swings" (suburi) and footwork (ashi sabaki), which lead to Ki Ken Tai Ichi, the foundation of Kendo. This is usually achieved within the first month of classes.
Once basics are sufficiently "absorbed" the focus of classes moves to applications of the basics, such as uchikomi and kakari geiko. This requires the beginner to go way beyond his/her comfort zone.
After 2 months of practice, students attempt the 6 kyu exam, requiring them to perform Kirikaeshi, Kihon waza, a brief Jitsugi (keiko) and Kata.