Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
A lot of history tends to demonstrate that martial arts were developed for personal improvement.
Shoalin temple traditions say it was developed to help monks be able to medidate longer and more effectively, the martial applications were an off shoot. Don't know how true or valid this might be. (Mike Sigman, seems to be the scholar in this area).
Kano, developed Judo explicitly for self improvement as a goal
Funakoshi developed Karatedo for self improvement as a goal
Uesheba developed Aikido....
The U.S. Army, we do more importantly for character and courage development, fighitng skills are argueably secondary.
Same with Marine Corps....
If you are into MA strictly for the fighting skills, I think there are much better ways to spend your time training. Especially stay away from the "DO" arts.