Re: The Use of Atemi (Striking) in Aikido
The way that my school teaches it, every technique has an atemi. It may be physical, it may not be. An atemi could be the fact that they are intimidated by you, are afraid of getting hit themselves, or are just afraid that they are going to hurt you (since we are all friends). You want that one second of hesitation or else they stand as good of a chance of countering a technique as you do of pulling it off. That counter may come in the form of a reversal throw, striking you because you're too close to their center line, or just off balancing you while you are in motion (which is the most common type of counter in my experience). From a martial aspect, the atemi is nessicary in any technique where one crosses the center line. If one is not given, you are open to a strike yourself.
The concept is somewhat like 2 swordsmen with blades drawn in a neutral stance. Their blades are pointed to the other's center or neck (depending on your dojo's preference) till they see an opening. This keeps the opponent from advancing because if they do, they will basically stab themselves on their opponent's blade. An opening must be made or else it is an act of suicide instead of an attack, and this philosophy is translated to empty hand as an atemi. At least that is how it was explained to me.