One of the first non-Japanese instructors was Yukiso Yamamoto. He was born in Hiroshima and move to Hawaii. At age 49, he was a professional Judo instructor at 6th Dan. After meeting Koichi Tohei, he switched to Aikido and eventually earned a 6th Dan in Aikido.
I was reading Diary of the Way
(pg 29) that had a section on him. Here is what I found relevant to this thread.
I do not practice Aikido for self-defense reasons. I do not think any serious students practice this art for self-defense. The movements are simply a way to visually demonstrate the Aikido principles. These principles of nondissension and avoiding conflicts can be applied to our everyday life. This is the purpose of studying Aikido. If you have love in hour heart for all creation, the universe itself is your protector. There is no self-defense for those with ill intentions.