Traditionally martial arts training placed equal emphasis on 1) developing combat skills, and, 2) nurturing the spirit of the aspiring student through the study of healing arts and meditation. Today the second part is visibly missing.
The study of healing arts includes learning the benefits of herbs to health, to energy levels, and their dangers. Integrating the study of healing arts and meditation yields increased sensitivity to pain and suffering as well as raising the consciousness and promoting heightened spiritual development. Integrating these ancient arts refines the temperament, harnasing of aggressive tendencies (that are sometimes accentuated through martial arts training), mitigates an individual's violent or aggressive tendencies because study i s amanifestation of the yin-yang theory of opposites in balance in which Yin (soft/healing arts) blends with Yang (hard or combat arts). Harmonizing emotion provides reverance for life which is essential to those who study martial arts.
Because of the violence normally associated with the martial arts it would be reasonable to assume that early martial artists were members of the palace guards, imperial troops or quasi-military organizations. However, more often they were priests, Buddhist monks, herbalists or Taoist priests whose martial arts training centered on therapeutic movement designed for maintaining health, calming the mind, increasing longevity. The emphasis was on surviving the hardships of nature and not fighting one another. The development of combat skills was secondary.
Aikido brings together body arts, the cultivation of spirit and energy. Training the body is easiest and so it is the most popular and most prevalent. Training the spirit and energy is more elusive both in practice as well as in popularity. Training both mind and body is most difficult but it is the hallmark of true Aikido.