Reuben thanks for sharing. My only thoughts would be that atemi is not just limited to the strikes common to aikido or even strikes in the conventional sense. Atemi is perpetual and allows you to make a connection to the partner.
I agree with this. The point I was making was that the importance of atemi isn't emphasized enough or even when it is, its execution often just becomes a part of a rote pattern without much thought as to its effect. In fact many demos don't show this and is removed from much of practice for safety reasons that when it comes to really applying it, you find that you don't quite know how to transition from an atemi into a technique which are things that should be explored.
In practice, I found that when you apply atemi, the guy just pretends to recoil back and stays stationary. Anyone who has applied a true atemi will find the real recoil a lot more violent and unpredictable till sometimes you are not in a position to complete the technique you were intending. I mean a punch to the face or below the ribs (common atemi locations) generate quite a lot of reflex reaction from most people.
Now going to go a bit off-topic:
Too often I get students who ask me, 'why doesn't this technique work if he resists me?' to which I show how by resisting the particular technique, he becomes open to another one be it a throw from a different angle or a simple atemi.
Another point that is important is that Aikido is not a set of 'techniques' to be 'completed', it changes and adapts according to the situation and as such, a more unpredictable and in some cases resisting uke helps breed this awareness at higher levels.