Re: The Problem with Being a Big Guy
That's a good post Scott. It basically lists down all the frustrations of a good uke and an understanding of what nage goes through.
As nage I've probably had my fair share doing all the 3 things you describe, more so for the first 2 though. All in all, the fervent wish for nage is to practice at his own pace, until he can reach level 3.
The pace is decided by uke with the intensity (strength) and speed of the attack. Generally a fast and heavy strike might be harder to deal with initially. After nage has sorted out the form, timing, movement, positioning, awase of the technique at the very least, that's when he can work to get to level 3.
A good way to do it will be to do both the flowy and the hard way. In this fashion you can see the difference. If you're going against a strong guy, doing it the hard way may not be as effective as you wish. Neither is avoidance (aka soft and flowy for some).
Atemi is interesting though. Atemi is used not as a back up plan really. Atemi should be already part of the technique even though it is not applied physically. Using it physically is a question of choice in context of the contact made with uke. The rule is, if nage chooses to strike (as in back up atemi), uke can too. Think about it... uke strikes, nage tries something and err 'tries' to strike back, uke sees the strike and strikes again.
All in all, I believe you're already training well. You're being uke whilst thinking like a nage. That's where most of us learn aikido anyway, whilst being uke (for the right nage).
By the by, I thinking you're also hinting the frustration at this elusive definition of an honest attack. In aikido 'training', an 'honest' attack is for a start just a predetermined method of attack that is given at a predetermined line of striking. It does not require for uke to track nage down. The speed and strength is variable depending on need. The target to be hit is the place where nage stood initially (that means if he does nothing he gets hit).
Following the initial attack, uke is not required to attack again or change his attack or struggle with nage. Nage's training is to use the initial force and movement of your first strike. His job is to make good connection with you and achieve kuzushi before doing his technique. Either of those is missing, and that technique is bust. Later some variations will occur including having uke attack a second time or so. Even later, nage is expected to deal with undetermined attacks, but the same rules apply.