This is true, but I don't generally spend time with untrained unarmed people in old time Japan ; )
And besides, O'Sensei's day wasn't THAT long ago.
Boxing was a novelty in mainland Japan in the 20's, Karate too. Aikido is based in "classical" jiu-jitsu techniques, tactics, principles and body skills that didn't adressed these new (for them) ways of figting.
Japanese unarmed arts, for the most part, were based on much grappling and little striking. Aikido follows this cultural pattern.