One of the things to remember about atemi which strike and atemi which don't actually make contact is that they are extremely difficult to tell apart until the end result has occurred. Our eyes are made up of receptors. The movement receptors fire when they register changes against the background. Anything moving across the field of vision is easy to spot and track. That's why irimi can't be done properly by simply jumping out of the way, a motion like that actually draws the attention to it.
But movement that comes straight at the face has the least amount of change in the field of vision from one instant to the next. Something moving straight at the eyes stays the same except that it gets larger as it gets closer. So the minimum number of receptors are firing and the brain gets the minimum amount of information to base its decisions on.
So a full speed, full power strike (I favor the Wing Chun type pulse strike) going straight at the face, but focused a half inch in front of the target instead of several inches through the target, is almost indistinguishable from the real strike. If the partner is open at this point he will be forced to respond.
Aikido people who do atemi waza often are taught to block the atemi. They simply protect their faces and the nage continues through the technique. It is imperative to understand how atemi works and if you are doing it correctly to have the partner act more intelligently. In any other art the opponent would not only deflect the atemi but would instantly counter strike.
If you are doing atemi waza as a distraction it should make no difference whatever if the uke simply blocks or he blocks and counterstrikes. If your execution of the atemi was done properly and didn't break the flow of your movement, his counter strike will miss. You are catching his Mind for an instant; his physical movement will be too slow because it is re-action to your movement.
Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 03-17-2004 at 11:46 AM.