Atemi delivered with correct feeling will result in uke feeling the energy of my intent long before the blow arrives.
I agree with your excellent post, but I'm wondering if your atemi would really be felt "long before the blow arrives" in a full-speed application. Somewhere in the back of my brain I'm thinking that the true intent of an atemi is to actually hit the person and have them react to that
experience. In practice, we want our uke to be sensitive enough to react in advance as if the atemi is definitely going to hit them if they don't respect it and move.
I'm saying I don't want to train in such a way as to make my atemi be so obvious that they will see it coming. On the contrary: I want my atemi to be real, hit hard and affect uke's nervous system effectively. I think that's basically what you're saying as well.
I think it's uke's job to train their own sensitivity so they can react to a true atemi that would "normally" be a real hit. Obviously there are levels of intensity that can ramp up or down depending on the participants. We usually slow atemi down intentionally to make sure that uke can see it coming in advance and react, but we're doing that out of courtesy and in the name of safe training, not because that's how atemi is supposed to work. When we're uke we get to train our sensitivity to atemi, which is an awesome skill as well. Both of these get lost when atemi is just an afterthought for the sake of the form, which is what I think you are getting at here.
Thanks for the food for thought.