you only know where uke is coming from if you don't do jiyu waza, and if you don't have an uke who tries to get you when you screw up.
As for the distance not being important...!
Must be nice, having all the time in the world and no other obligations.
What I can see is that this ki-style of aikido, while less martially effective, would be of much greater utility in the more common context of the relative or friend who is pushing boundaries, who isn't really trying to hurt you, and whom you don't want to clobber. That's why I'm torn about what to do: I want to learn this, but I don't want my ukemi to get sloppy, either.
Maybe I can sign up for one dojo, and do mat-fee visits at the other sometimes so that I can have my atemi cake and eat it too.
I did that for a while, when I was at a dojo where I felt my ukemi was getting sloppy.