Chris Hein wrote:
Not saying that O-sensei didn't say this but the kanji for atemi is 当身, basically strike and body.
Just to add some linguistic fodder to this discussion...
Please note that 当る in Japanese can also be used in many other instances including putting a sticker onto something ( ステッカーを当てる ), shining a light onto something ( 光を当てる ), blowing hot wind upon something ( 熱風を当てる ), and even guessing something I'm thinking ( 考えている事を当てる ).
There are also many compounds using 当 including 当番 ("touban," person on duty), 見当 ("kentou," estimate), 手当 ("te ate", compensation), and 目当て ("me ate", purpose). None of these connote striking the "turn," "vision," "hand," or "eye." (Heck, it's even used in 弁当 ("bento," boxed lunch), and I can't say I've ever felt like hitting my lunch!)