One thing I understand about martial arts is that it's as much a life skill as it is anything else. I wouldn't put it up there with swimming, but as far as real world utility is concerned, it's probably higher than rollerskating or even cycling. As a risk management tool, it's definitely more useful than a lot of things.
Risk gets put into one of four categories.
In many ways, you can control frequency but you can't always control risk. For instance, if you can't swim but never go near water, that puts you in category two. Yes, you're at risk (e.g., drowning) but the closest you get to open water is crossing a bridge in your car during your daily commute. As such, swimming doesn't seem all that valuable.
Getting in a fight on the street is another one of those things you probably have some measure of control over, insofar as you can lower the frequency of it occurring and your risk varies with a couple of things. Things like training, fitness level, dedication to craft, and other elements.
But fighting doesn't "just happen" to the average person. You have to find an environment conducive to a fight breaking out and those are (a) well known and (b) easy to avoid with minimal fuss. I'm not saying random attacks can't happen, but come on...how random is a fight in the parking lot of a country bar? For example.
That's why I think martial arts have utility, but in a limited way. You have to make it matter or it's pretty low as far as life skills are concerned. Learning how to work your way through a table setting is probably more valuable than how to break a board with your bare hands. And I certainly can't equate my ability to hit a heavy bag with anything resembling a high risk and high frequency event in my life--well, that's not true but I am in no mood to explore it right now.
But does that mean it doesn't have value? Of course it does. You just have to realize that being a martial artist means more to you than it does to the majority of people you will encounter. It has limited utility and that makes it less valuable to those around you, which, in turn, can diminish its value to you over a long enough timeline.
This is why it's important to spend time with other martial artists, including those outside of your art. This is why there is value in going to your local tournaments, even in arts you don't practice yourself, and watch the coaching, competing and the process. The diversity is good for your perspective.
When the IOC wanted to remove wrestling from the Olympics, there was outcry from so many in the martial arts community--but I had to wonder how many of those criticizing the IOC's decision had even been to a wrestling meet. Because I go to them and there are more people competing on the mats than in the stands cheering a lot of the time. The IOC was right about people not watching it, even at the highest levels. It barely gets watched at the lower levels.
Which, like I said, diminishes its utility. First in the eyes of those around you, then in your own if you're not careful. That would be too bad, because martial arts are one of the last things you can pursue without agenda for the most part. They don't have to be separated by race, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), gender, ability, disability or anything else short of desire to learn.
And that? That is a life skill.