Hmm...I thought atemi was just something to distract your attacker so that one could gain a split second of time to put them in a nikyo or a similar hold. Not something meant to really cause some damage. BTW, Jim, if you want to kick and smash things with punches, don't do aikido. If you want to learn a way to survive a fight without really caring what happens to your opponent, don't do aikido. Take up a street fighting class, like senshido (a great group of ppl btw, but not what I was really looking for). I see aikido as being something that you do so that you can fall without hurting yourself, not hurt other people both emotionally and physically, and get some excercise. Then maybe after 10 years or so, you can really start using it as an effective self defence.