The mugai-ryu/nakamura-ryu guys in our dojo use foam covered bokkens and helmets and have all areas open as targets. They even have a 1 a year meeting where they don a different set of armor and use blunted blades.
Our kendo group regularly does isshu-jiai with our naginata group too. There are some places that will allow for tankendo too. Grappling still does exist in some dojos both in and outside japan, even if it is frowned upon by the AUSKF.
Chris, are you trying to connect and manipulate to your opponents center via the bokken? Like most kendoka, most of the cuts I see are strikes, which is fine depending on what exactly you are working on.