Like you say, to get good at hitting you need to hit. "Atemi" can be more than hitting hard and well, but that's the aspect it sounds like you're focusing on. Not everyone puts much emphasis on hitting and so where it's not as emphasized as you'd like, you'll have to fill in to the degree you like. Your post reminded me a bit of this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbFU6w7q3dQ
So my advice is that when you're on the mat you do your best to understand and respect the effort of your teachers; beyond that, do as you mentioned and supplement; keep trying to find people who are willing to train off the mat with you more in the way you're looking for. The style of martial art ultimately means very little; we're all individuals with our own abilities and understanding, regardless of whether or not we share the same nomenclature or even lineage. Some schools will have very strong hitters because they work on that; some won't. As students it is up to us to find our way...and it sounds like you're doing that as well as most since you're identifying potential problems and addressing them. Maybe your opinion will change over time like mine did (although to be fair I have never been interested in hitting hard, so our goals are quite different).
Mathew, thanks for the nice song. I think you are right
But please see my answer to John above as why I am focusing at this moment in atemi. I do respect my teachers and fellow aikidokas. I am a very loving and caring guy. But unlike what Katherine suggests, I agree with the saying that says that respect is earned, it is not a given fact. A shodan who does not know basic stuff and forces her way to a 4th kuy aikidoka is simply for laughs. This person should be stripped from their hakama..
Thank you for your advice and encouragement for supplemental training. In fact I am considering trying jujitsu instead of boxing, for its shared similarities with aikido and because of its use of strikes.
By the way I am reading this book, "meditations on violence" which offers a very good insight into our false assumptions regarding dojo training. Still on the first chapters, hoping the rest is as interesting.
To recap, I am not interested in hitting hard per se. If that was the case, it be studying muay thai or similar. I am just under the impression that I am studying a very watered down version of what the founder taught..