I noticed the difference in opinion about martial arts a few years ago when a classmate said Asian martial arts is weak and dumb. My opinion was that Asian martial arts wasn't quite about beating the shit out of the other guy as fast as possible like Western martial arts. It seemed to be another kind of artform for them, whereas the West invented (Fact check please) MMA. Taking the best moves out of many different forms of martial combat just to beat the other guy.
Western-developed martial arts also have the same mindset. Sambo (SP?) from Russia, Pankration from Greece, and Krav Maga from Israel, were developed as an efficient combat technique to give soldiers an edge in combat. These were developed in the context of larger battles. Eastern martial arts seem to focus more on personal control/harmony rather than government control of an area. It wasn't made to expand, rather to perfect the Self-Philosophy.
My friend, who has practiced Kendo for about six years says martial arts can be a sport or a cultural form depending on how the person practicing it thinks about it. Sport is based in competition, if you are practicing something to be better than someone else, it is a sport. Rather, if you are practicing something just for the sake of being better at it, then it isn't quite a sport. I share the opinion, but instead of grouping it into one or the other, I will just say that martial arts is a discipline.
I think teaching a child martial arts, especially defensive ones like Aikido, is a good way of teaching the child discipline without the use of 'rules and rods' that fit better into Victor's idea. If one practices something, they have a self-sustained discipline, but if someone forces someone to act a certain way, that discipline disappears when the external force is gone. Not in all cases, anyone who knows someone who has gone through military training knows that the training affects them for a long time, if not the rest of their life.
But you can see the external discipline not working in many children. If they think they an get away with something, they will because it gives them a sense of power. A power over the rules. This power gives them a sense of freedom. If the child is taught a discipline that empowers them without breaking rules (be them written or unwritten) it creates a stronger individual. I suppose this is where Victor got his idea where the Authority likes martial arts because it keeps the Citizens in line. Sure, but if there are enough Citizens willing to rebel, they will have the skill to do so.
It all depends on the person, I wish my parents let me practice karate or some other martial art, but at the time they were afraid I would use it negatively. They had the right to be concerned, I had a short fuse back then.