Really? The best randori I've seen is by Gozo Shioda and he had no qualms about hitting uke in the face with a heel palm strike. I've seen (on film) Mitsugi Saotome level his ukes with punches. You're telling me these two direct students of O sensei haven't gotten very far? Kanshu Sunadomari also used atemi in randori.
Just this Saturday an instructor from Aikikai Hombu was teaching us how to counter a shomen strike with a heel palm strike to the face. Its a pity, then, that he hasnt gotten very far.
Well first I don't think anyone should be considered a "luminary of aikido" I don't like this; "oh he was o-senseis student...oh he is god" stuff.
(Irrelevant.. and given I've heard rumors that saotome has killed a man,..now it's not very hard for me to believe..and if true and covered up..well he failed actually)
Atemi can be used in randori, but I dont think it's the purpose.
I believe it should be the last choice, given the circumstances.
Thats not the aikido choice.
To me using atemi shows a weakness,
the incapability of doing something else at the momment.
Otherwise; oh let's do randori..oh lets atemi everyone guys.