"for some of us,
extending ki can become a form of atemi "
What you define as ki I define as intent which is indeed a form of atemi. I am sure you have seen examples of shihan making subtle movements that impact uke's intent which are just as effective as atemi (so in reality the desired result is the end, you have impacted ukes' rhythm/balance/intent.)
"You're correct, if you look at this holistically. What I usually do is try and break down the technique into components. Therefore, if I atemi and then perform a sankyo, I have two components: Atemi and Sankyo. I examine both components to see how they work individually. Then I try and put them back together in the actual technique. So my approach is more analysis and sythesis.
The one problem I've noticed is that you can lose the lead after initially gaining it. You might initially gain the lead/blend with your partner, but during the performance of the technique, the lead can be lost through in attention or technical mistakes. If you're working with someone who can notice this, they might be able to reverse the technique and counter. Why not? After all, they now have the lead/initiative. This is a primary reason why I'm leery of looking and practicing Aikido techniques as a holistic or single experience. "
I agree to a point. We learn techniques component by component rather than holistically. However there is a danger in breaking down techniques. How we practice is how we will perform.....that is if you have learned the technique as Step 1 - Atemi, Step -2 Sankyo, there will always be an inherent pause in the way you perform the technique under pressure....giving uke an opening to re-direct/change the intent and regain the initiative. If I can direct my intent constantly throughout so that atemi (or intent to atemi) flows directly into technique you eliminate the opportunity for uke to find an opening. Actually the better way to think about it is " the atemi is the technique is the pin....all one flow.