And how did that training go? I cannot join my opponents movements when they're throwing at least 3 strikes per second.. Let's be realistic here. Pre-contact? How do I tactically move my entire body into a position where I can dominate them without getting knocked out in a second? I don't know anyone mentally or physically capable of doing that. I understand what you're saying but still, "listening to his movements" when he is trying to knock me out is not a good response. How do I join a movement when it is absolutely random and quick? I don't know what he's gonna throw, how to respond, or how to move my entire body in response to a simple attack? And this is sparring. Assume it's self-defense. Let's remove some motor skills and see how I respond then. I just doubt these kind of responses in these situations unless you're ready to get in that range and strike a little. That's just realism.
I don't know who you guys train against but please, tell me what you used. When you have a skilled fighter blitzing down the line throwing good, solid strikes at your face, what do you do? Let's not be too theoretical here. What have you done or what do you feel is a realistic response. I don't see any other logical response other than throwing hands until Aikido presents itself.
Aikido is and always will be a principle based art to me. There's Aikido in boxing. Use that. Also, how can you have 'pre-contact' and not be an attacker? What? How many violent situations have you been in? Aikido is absolutely an effective art if used pre-emptively but you can't expect to always unify your movements with Uke's.
I can't answer these questions for you. Go train.
Out of curiosity, how long have you been training?
What you describe sounds mostly like laziness and doubt to me. And trust me, those qualities still exist strongly within myself, so I'm not pointing the finger.
There is no easy way to address these things intellectually. Even if you understand it intellectually it won't help you in physical conflict.
You cannot premeditate and plot your actions or responses. That is the anti-aiki. It's not about strategy. It's not about timing.
All I can say is that you have to demand it of yourself.
P.S. Listen to what Kevin said. Build a strong martial foundation that you can fall back on (even dominate with), but if you are so inclined, train to develop the skills that you think are so elusive. They might be more mundane than you currently believe.
Let's be honest, contact, the clinch, can get you killed in many real world situations. There was and is a good reason to cultivate pre-contact skills. When people mean business they typically bring weapons, and well, you just can't wait till contact occurs or you might be finished.
Human flesh, no matter how structured, cannot withstand the contact of a sword while it is cutting. So what are you going to do? Stand there and die, or move and live?