On the subject of connecting with atemi's.
An atemi is to break balance, concentration, gain an opening, etc. Proper application of atemi is to be studied as an integral part of technique, not something thrown in as an afterthought. If an atemi is done correctly, it doesn't have to connect (at least to the face).
Here's a good exercise. Put your fist in someone's face. They should just stand there.
Now invade their personnal space with a fist in their face. You should get a reaction. It's not something easy to explain, but a person can instinctively tell wheather something is a threat or not.
Now atemi's to the ribs are a different matter. They kinda have to connect.
At the Utah Aikikai, I was performing randori with their advanced students. (I was in Utah for a week) I had one of their shodans in a wonderful morote/kata dori (judo grab) which he was unable to blend with. But a well placed kick (atemi) to the midsection (gut) was a perfect atemi for the situation; I was most impressed.
How much thought/practice/importance do other dojo's place on atemi's in every day practice? I've heard that O-senseis atemis were very vigorous..