George S. Ledyard
I do not think that any organization that I have seen is immune to the issues I am talking about. The curriculum of most organizations is designed to teach "basics". Not so many folks look at atemi in either the uke or nage role as a "basic" so it doesn't have its own block of instruction most places.
Thanks for your essay. It is very good and basically reflects what we are being taught about the uke role in my Yoshinkan Kenshusei Course in Kyoto.
I don't know about other schools of aikido, but in Yoshinkan, uke's form is as specific as shite's (nage's) for each technique. If you perform uke properly, you mold to shite in a way that lets shite understand how to control your center, take your balance, etc. Also, if you perform uke properly and shite performs properly, you can learn A LOT about how to perform a technique by being uke.
I think conceiving of uke as "an attacker" (as some commenters on this thread do) is a mistake. Aikido kihon techniques are for learning and consist of a shite-uke pairing. I.e., the kihon technique is not performed by shite (nage), it is formed by shite-uke. This is does not mean it is simply kata. A good training pair are feeling each other out, adjusting constantly, and giving each other feedback.
As for atemi, in my Kenshusei course, we have actually spent quite a bit of time on this. It gets reviewed with almost every technique. I don't know if this is unique to Yoshinkan or Payet-sensei's dojo. My interpretation of the atemi quotation from Ueshiba (which is related by Shioda Gozo in the beginning of Total Aikido
) is that (1) in a fight, a real aikido technique is decisive, and (2) if you want to use aikido techniques in a fight, you have to create the opportunities to use them. The idea that the attacher spontaneously puts herself into a position for you to use a technique is unrealistic. So, most of the fight is atemi, looking for openings, maybe a little bit is maybe failed aikido, and when you perform real aikido, the fight is over.