Personally, I'm training in aikido, not boxing or sparring, and don't see any need to "toughen up" my hands beyond what normal gardening plus the continual pricking of pins and needles in the sewing studio does....
I would probably agree with you in your situation. Suitable atemi worth practising in your situation could include:
1. Snap kick to groin with top of foot (toes curled down) from rear leg (preceded by a feint to the face).
2. Grab both shoulders and pull your attacker into a knee strike to just below their navel.
3. If someone grabs you from behind - a downward strike with your heel to the pressure point beside the metatarsus (big toe joint) on their foot.
4. If someone attempts to grab you from behind-step back with right foot and deliver a rear right elbow to the solar plexus
These should be regularly practised and then followed by an aikido throw.