What is a martial art? One answer might be that "it depends." It depends on what you do with it. After all, even our American football is thought of as a way of life or a discipline that helps us see how life is lived. I guess calling something a martial art may not be the best label. If it is an art then how do you define "art?"
Maybe it is best to call it a martial system as I often do when explaining the fundamental principles underlying all martial systems be they karate, kung fu, aikido, judo or wrestling.
What you call your discipline depends totally and completely on the what and why you practice such a thing.
Is it so you can gather as in a social club to do that one thing together as a group so that you can bond and connect with other humans? Is it so you can learn to defend yourself (kind of hard since karate, as an example, is actually a fighting system)? Is it so you can compete, like a sport, to test your self and to gain notoriety by the trophies and titles you win or earn?
I find that most titles or labels are inadequate due to misunderstandings or just plain ignorance with a lack of willingness or motivation to discover any factual historical information that would clarify such a thing.
I just know that I am working to connect what I practice and train in so that it incorporates several of the things I mentioned above, i.e. self-defense and a way to augment how I live my life, etc. That seems beneficial to me.
I think it is important to know the what and why you do anything so that you do it for that sake. I think it is about what you do with it and not what you "think" others feel is the way to do it - there is always disparity in this part.
Regardless, it is about enjoying what you do and continuing it as long as it provides something to you as an individual.