This is good to do. But frustrating, isn't it? I trained very heavily with this type of thing about 11 years ago. I think you're both missing the point. If you commit to irimi or tenkan when your opponent is making a small movement or maybe even feigning a strike, you will find yourself grossly out of position. You can't be said to have any ability with aiki. You are far from it. In fact, you are the one who is over committing. You may even be the "attacker."
You must join your opponent's movements (better to join the movement of their "spirit" than that of their body), but have the mentality that you will stay in an advantageous position. Otherwise you are extrapolating, and no longer responding to anything that is actually present. There is no way other than luck to be appropriate when you respond this way.
I suggest you stop thinking about what you are going to do and start observing and listening to your opponent very carefully. . . and continue to get more subtle with it.
The essence of aiki is not learned in contact, but pre-contact.
And how did that training go? I cannot join my opponents movements when they're throwing at least 3 strikes per second.. Let's be realistic here. Pre-contact? How do I tactically move my entire body into a position where I can dominate them without getting knocked out in a second? I don't know anyone mentally or physically capable of doing that. I understand what you're saying but still, "listening to his movements" when he is trying to knock me out is not a good response. How do I join a movement when it is absolutely random and quick? I don't know what he's gonna throw, how to respond, or how to move my entire body in response to a simple attack? And this is sparring. Assume it's self-defense. Let's remove some motor skills and see how I respond then. I just doubt these kind of responses in these situations unless you're ready to get in that range and strike a little. That's just realism.
I don't know who you guys train against but please, tell me what you used. When you have a skilled fighter blitzing down the line throwing good, solid strikes at your face, what do you do? Let's not be too theoretical here. What have you done or what do you feel is a realistic response. I don't see any other logical response other than throwing hands until Aikido presents itself.
Aikido is and always will be a principle based art to me. There's Aikido in boxing. Use that. Also, how can you have 'pre-contact' and not be an attacker? What? How many violent situations have you been in? Aikido is absolutely an effective art if used pre-emptively but you can't expect to always unify your movements with Uke's.