A Martial Art can be defined as a system of techniques, physical and mental exercises developed as an effective means for self-defense and offense, both unarmed and with the use of weapons.
The origin and history of Martial Arts is a controversial issue. We can see signs of Martial Arts in Greek, Egyptian, African, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, as well as other cultures. There is a clear trail leading from the Southern China-regions up to Korea, Okinawa and Japan. The details before that, and the exact details of that transfer, are greatly debated by historians and Martial Artists.
Some people think that martial arts are, to quote "Stonwulfe,"
"... supposed to be a physically, mentally, and spiritually beneficial activity; a source of enlightenment and a path for healthy living and longevity."
The real binding part of all the different martial arts described, and not described, in this document is that they try to teach students how to fight. Some do that better than others, some incorporate other things such as spirituality or meditation, but there is no common thread beyond fighting. So while it might be appropriate to claim that your martial art, or even maybe the family of martial arts your martial art hails from, is expected to provide something beyond fighting skill, it probably doesn't apply to all martial arts.
Source: Answerbag.com by rec-martial-arts