These takes on what atemi is or is not are of course interesting -- topics in themselves really. But they seem to be addressing the issue of "What is the relationship between striking and throws (or other regularly agreed upon Aikido waza)?" And not the issue of "What is the relationship between striking and aiki?"
I tried to raise the latter issue by questioning the common answer, which is, "Strikes are adjunctive to other Aikido waza like throws, etc." I of course saw no reason for drawing a distinction between striking and pressure point tactics of a different nature, or between making contact and causing pain, and/or between psychologically affecting the opponent or not. Call atemi what you will, and it has been defined as many things throughout this thread -- fine, let's accept them all -- what is the relationship between striking and the tactic of "aiki"? This is a question I pose because it simply is not answered by saying "I need to do strikes to throw an unwilling opponent?" I mean, that statement alone begs the question doesn't it? Because it is really saying nothing more than, "I need to force my opponent in one way in order to force them in another way." Plain and simple, that cannot cover even the basest understanding of what aiki means or is.
I am not against striking, nor do I disagree that strikes lend themselves to making certain throws more viable, under certain conditions, particularly within the training environment, but that alone does not satisfy all of the needs of practicing an art that claims to be "The Way of Aiki."
Nor do I believe that "striking" to distract is any more viable as a solution to this "dilemma". Distraction is, like pain, an unpredictable element of hand-to-hand combat -- one that is best chalked up as a strategic luxury. In short: Putting a fist in someone's face, may get your opponent to blink, to flinch, to become fettered, but it also simply may provide him/her with the opening they needed to stick a knife into your lower ribs/lung, or the opportunity to trap your main line of defense in order to close the gap to your other vital targets more safely, etc. Personally, I think if we are training in an attempt to "unfetter" our minds, we should not so quickly expect our attacker or necessitate our attacker to become fettered simply because I cause them pain or say "boo" or put a fist in their face.
Another way of looking at this question I'm posing is like this: "How do strikes operate in an aiki manner?"
I believe they can, I just don't believe that using them to set up throws is always going to achieve that.
What do you think?