Atemi Waza/Pressure points
It is great to see so much discussion on atemi-waza and its application. I have been working on a paper on the topic, although it has been in limbo for a while. A survey I did over the internet with 5th dans and above was quite interesting. The viewpoints generally corresponded with the head instructors orientation. Softer styles or more ki oriented styles did not feel atemi was advisable. Others felt it was a lost art.
The literature suggest that atemi does not work on everyone depending on the individual's susceptibility to pressure points. Striking vital points/pressure points/acupuncture points or whatever you want to call them can be effectively used to set up technique without disrupting the energy of the technique. If you look at old pictures of O'Sensei, he was constantly delivering atemi. Kyusho-jitsu is an Okinawan art that specializes in striking pressure points. The art contents that the katas of karate are actually strikes or manipulation of pressure points.
A friend and myself content that atemi waza is an effective method of setting up technique and may well be the transition from art to street or marital effectiveness. Learning the appropriate syntax (sequence) of striking or manipulating pressure points can be effective and enhance the art. We feel atemi should be elevated from simple striking as a definition to any form of activating a pressure point (pressing, squeezing, etc.).
Dr. John Riggs