Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
He also noted that there was a definite change from Aiki Budo to Aikido. The pre-WWII art had atemi while the post-WWII art didn't emphasize atemi and took it out of the teaching curriculum. You might assume that this was the founder's doing. Since K. Tohei mentioned that atemi got in the way with learning a technique's movement, you might also assume that this was a reflection of the founder's thoughts.
In the above case, I am using atemi as a physical strike. It is not a kiai or extension of ki or focusing your energy, although I can see how it can be interpeted that way.
My own view is that this is a matter of degree, rather than a sharp change. In Kisshomaru Ueshiba's "Aikido", published in English in 1975, six years after Morihei Ueshiba's death, there are plenty of references to atemi. The explanations of kata-dori techniques are similar to those given in "Budo Renshu" (1938), though there are fewer techniques shown in Kisshomaru's book.
I would certainly agree that there were plenty of atemi in prewar aiki-budo; I would disagree that these disappeared in post-1942 aikido. Virtually all of my own teachers joined the Hombu after this date and they all taught atemi.
I suspect that postwar aikido spent much more time making more explicit what was implicit in Morihei Ueshiba's own training methods (I do not say 'teaching methods' because all his disciples I have ever talked to denied that he 'taught' aikido in any recognized sense).
Thus, there has been more attention to breaking down techniques and kata into teachable segments and emphasizing basic movements. Thus, I can see a way of teaching, say, kaiten nage without atemi, though I would say that atemi got in the way only if the technique is taught purely as a complex movement. I can also see a value to teaching this same technique with atemi included, or at least emphasized (in about six places) as the technique is executed.