Something I see not being brought up...The Huge difference between those folks who come to practice Aikido with Martial Experience and those whose only "Martial" experience is Aikido...
Good point. Different folks approach the same training differently and while they may eventually arrive at a similar result, previous training/experiences will make a huge difference in how the respective learning curves will compare...in both overall progress and individual skills. I had no formal training to speak of before coming to Aikido, but I did have enough "street" smarts to understand a thing or two about fighting, at least in terms of realism (Ironically, it was that "common knowledge" that almost caused me to dismiss Aikido due to the cooperation I saw going on).
Which leads me to the idea that there are different kinds of martial in any given martial situation. I came to Aikido knowing something about relaxing to get out of a pin because I grew up being physically dominated by all my friends. The "practice" I had gained against the mount almost daily for years (I was definately the omega wolf of our little pack) contributed a lot to my sense of practicality for fighting. That's not to say I'm ready for the effects of a solid strike to the head or liver or any other number of circumstances that would seriously affect my performance in any situation, let alone one where my life or someone else's is on the line.
There are few teachers like the physicality of experience, if that makes any sense. Sure, you can still look up at the stars and not see all the light, but generally at least you can see something
to guide the way.
Simply put... Toughing up the Body will lead to Strengthening of the Spirit so to speak (Apologies to Bodhidharma for my simplification) but I am not so sure it works the other way around.
I think one lends to the other, but neither automatically leads to the other. Certainly the only thing which will toughen the body is a relatively tough/demanding experience, which is more physical in nature (more body-oriented), but when i consider examples such as those monks who set themselves alight to protest during the Vietnam War, I can't help but consider the benefit that might come from occasionally looking to the mind in order to learn how to be tough. Then again, for all I know they trained for it by enduring great pain, so that may be a bad example, I'm not sure...and I'm certainly not suggesting anyone sit down and contemplate instead of doing it on the mat with a bokken flying at your face...the latter probably gets you more bang for your buck.
My two bits.