What I was trying to express is that IMHO the excuses you mentioned earlier ("yeah, but I saw he was beginning to attack") are *never* valid, because the result of incorrect timing will always speak for itself; this just becomes particularly clear during freestyle practice because then nage can no longer hide behind what his partner is supposed to do (according to nage) - but it's really just the same during formal practice with "preset" attacks and defenses.
So they why worry about timing in anything other than freestyle practice?
From personal experience, from day one until now, reguardless of who my partner was, I've never been hit during kata training (kata = assigned roles, assigned attack, assigned response) Freestyle? Of course I've been hit. So I'm thinking aloud, "why the huge difference"? I'm wondering that if it's kata, even though I don't know the exact instant my partner will attack, I know enough to skew the situation so as to make timing considerations of very little consequence.
I don't mean to suggest that kata training doesn't have value. I think it does. But I find myself wondering if timing issues are better addressed in freestyle practice.