Re: Atemi and Aikido
I realize most see it the other way, but I think aikido should be practiced more with the feeling of a striking art than a grappling art. Of course the strikes that will "fit" into the classical presentation of techniques the best will be weapon striking movements, i.e., shomenuchi, yokomenuchi and tsuki. This in no way means that other strikes aren't valid, simply that the appearance may change.
I practice striking quite frequently.
Something that I find interesting, and you may find useful is to look not so much at the external movements, but rather how they arise. There is no attack in aikido, but there is striking! Kote gaeshi and ikkyo can be, and often are, applied with an attacking spirit just as easily as tsuki.
Watch a true and pure counter striker in boxing and tell me if they are not following aiki principles?
I think it has a lot to do with whether you are responding to the aggressive intention of the other or attempting to impose your will upon them.
A question for you, what do you mean when you say "when trained properly, (striking) matches aikido perfectly?"