What is atemi really for... in aikido training?
To me this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. If you have aiki and power you can kick, punch, etc. with aiki and power in which case you'd be doing... aikido.
If you have no aiki and power to begin with, no amount of importing striking techniques from karate, muay-thai, boxing, etc., is going to help you gain aiki or the kind of power that Ueshiba or Shioda were using. I see this in many aikido schools -- adding unarmed fighting arts to their curriculum -- which might result in better fighters but not necessarily improve the core aikido skills.
I agree that atemi is extremely important for fighting. But since not all atemi-waza are created for equal purposes, which ones are we supposed to to use in aikido waza/applications? Then you have a wide variety of ate-waza from armed and unarmed koryu -- are we supposed to be using any of that? Which ones are better for aikido waza? Perhaps importing the "wrong" striking technique would technically and tactically make the situation worse (in practical terms)? I guess I'm interested to know of any specific direction O Sensei gave in the matter of atemi other than the quote posted above by Mark Murray.
Good points....However (and with all due respect) Most don't suffer from such philosophical or tactical confusion (For example Shoji Nishio didn't nor do some other important Shihan) only practical application with intent
. And while the whole "Aiki power" argument has certain important merits it suffers from a lack of competent experienced teachers to teach it and to infer that folks should not step outside of Aikido in order to improve aspects of their practice including "Aiki" power is self defeating.
I've read all the discussions about "aiki" power and agree with most of them so let's not beat a dead horse...If you need to go to a boxing or MMA class to learn how to "atemi" or Chinese IMA class to experiance "Aiki" by all means go. Make the use of all the best resources available to improve your Aikido. Nishio Ryu practitioners are encouraged to do this since and as far as I know O'Sensei never objected to it either...Aikido should go "back to the future" and include Aiki and should also improve it's syllabus and continue to evolve.
Your Aikido journey should be on the widest possible path of experience...
"In order for Aikido to be considered (a) budo it must
be effective against other Martial Arts."-Shoji Nishio Shihan.