Practicing the techniques for "the feel" is how we train in Aikido. This enables us to use the attackers energy. Old, young, and physicaly weak alike can conduct effective budo having gained the necessary priciples of capturing an opponets energy and center and utilizing it for their own purposes. This what I understand Aikido to be, and unless an atemi is part of the technique, we see if we can produce the same results without one. If the uke makes it incredibly difficult (hold tight is weak, ki(ing) down is tougher), then if we are forced to make the move work without atemi, boy is it tough! With proper training, it eventually works and another rung is climbed.
No well intentioned way of training is "incorrect." However,
1.You can't always atemi (tied hand, occupied hand, severed hand?)
2.Physical abilty decreases with age, ki(or whatever you call it) does not (that is how physicaly unassuming masters exist, and they do!)
3.Utilize priciples off the mat, not techniques
If any of this makes sense to anyone, if anyone has any questions, or if there is one thing that bothers you, feel free to communicate!
Thanks for reading!