Paul, as I was not there myself in the 1950's I can only go by what my Sensei has told me. The first teacher in Great Britain was Sensei Kenshiro Abbe at the hut. His way of teaching started with press ups on the backs of the wrists followed by hard practice. Because Aikido at that time was as yet to be established it needed to be seen to be as
an effective martial art otherwise people would not have been interested. The techniques were not as wide and flowing as is often seen today, they were short, sharp and effective. As an older man I think O'Sensei changed his Aikido to suit where he had got to in his life. However as a young man he trained very hard with the spirit of a young warrior. It's only my opinion of course but I think a lot of people are practicing the Aikido of O' Sensei as an old man while they are still young people. This isn't the way things work, you need to put in your dues first with hard training of the mind, body and the spirit. Just my beliefs.
All the best