For one reason or another, he decided that he would focus all his energy to "physical" practice.
Weapons training can be very physical. In defending against ken or jo, nage must cover a greater distance to execute waza.
Using the running example, it would be like training regularly at 20k for a 10k race. In other words, after weapons training, which often also heightens the danger level and awareness, unarmed combat is easier.
Nevertheless, the association I am in, traditionally does not begin to teach weapons until shodan. But, I teach at a college, and the students take many breaks throughout the year (winter break, spring break, mid-term study break, holidays, etc.) We also only practice twice a week when school is in session. Plus, their grip strength seems to be unusually low.
So, during our brief summer training session, we learned basic sword cuts and a simple 21-count sword kata.
All the students were at least 5 kyu (they had taken at least one aikido test.)
The students were very enthusiastic about learning ken. I didn't have to pressure or cajole them. I kept ken training sessions short -- no more than 30 minutes. This was for reasons of attention span and because I wanted their muscles to stay relaxed.
I think the overall benefit was very positive. Grip-strength increased, and now the students have something to practice during their free time or when school is not in session.
We call the bokken our "personal trainer."
I think students who do not eventually acquire at least a minumum level of weapons skills at their dojo are being short-changed. It's an integral part of aikido training.