Martial Arts can represent different things to different people. Some believe that the Martial Arts promote violence, aggression, and combat. Some feel that martial arts are just for kids, and they do not want to practice alongside children.
Over the past few years, there has been more and more interest in Mixed Martial Arts and those teaching traditional methods of self-defense like Karate, TaeKwonDo, and Kung Fu have incorporated other forms in their schools to stay relevant. If you know anything about Bruce Lee's philosophy, he believed in not conforming to any one style. He felt that this limited oneself in battle. When you train in multiple arts, You become more comfortable in a wider variety of self-defense situations (i.e. on the ground, standing up, etc.)
So, what is Martial Arts?
Karate is Karate, TaeKwonDo is TaeKwonDo, KungFu is Kung Fu. They all have certain levels of uniqueness. However, their teachings are very similar. Let's take for example my art of expertise:TaeKwonDo.
Developed over 4,000 years, TaeKwonDo as we know it was named so in 1955. As practicioners of the art, we base our practice on the teachings of the Hwa Rang Do-elite warrior scholars under the 24th king of the Silla Dynasty in Korea during the 6th century. The Hwa Rang Do followed a code of nine virtues that they used to guide them in training and combat: Humanity, Courtesy, Trust and Friendship, Goodness, Loyalty, Honor, Knowledge, Courage, and Conscience.
Because of these guiding principles, they were respected even amongst their enemies.
While Tae Kwon Do practicioners are guided by the current tenets of Taekwondo (based on the 9 virtues), those that train in other traditional arts also have principles by which they are guided.
Martial Arts is not about fighting.
Martial Arts is about training to become your best. Martial Arts is about Honor, Courtesy, and Integrity. Martial Arts is Self-Defense. Martial Arts is much more than punching and kicking.