From what I see in aikido classes, the strikes are for setting up/distracting the other person. They would be usless to stop a real attacker. Don't fool yourselves.
The other stuff can work, but, please, don't try to punch an attacker - you're wasting your time!
There's little point in smacking your practice partner as hard as you would someone who was actualy trying to damage you. However you adjust that for the level of the person you're working with. You also adjust that for the level YOU can handle comeing back at you.
Two beginers (read that less than 1 or 2 years) are going to look quite a bit like what you describe. They're practicing, they're trying to learn the movements, they're not all that concerned with much more than that.
You go watch some of the experienced students practcing with each other and you'll see a vastly different picture.