Good question, and one that many people don't understand. The arts refers to the levels of understanding gained by training in a traditional martial art. It is not something that can be learned quickly, or rushed. It is such that you can only understand it after having understood the principles and technique that is more basic. It is in the fine details that someone begins to understand only after many many years of of consistent training in a set style/discipline.
Note: mma does not have it since the study of mma takes the student from one method/style to another before they have had the time to study any art deep enough to ever begin to understand the deeper levels of the art.
NOTE: the Japanese Historically tend to make an art out of the simplest things. To westerners arranging flowers, making tea, tying ones shoes are things to be rushed through so that we con "Get somewhere". The Japanese on the other hand will stylize the find details of each minute step in the process of accomplishing these same things. In doing so the will take the time to perfect each of the fine details. The result is that the end result is as close to perfection as humanly possible. Often the end result is beautiful. The Japanese will take their time in doing things and enjoy the process of doing it rather than rushing through to finish.
In many ways it is like the difference between cooking a fine gourmet meal that takes hours, or going to McDonalds and rushing to finish eating once there. The art is martial arts, to me, is like savoring a fine wine and taking time to fully enjoy each sip. "It is not the finish, it is the journey along the way."
I can't believe your comment, " mma is whats keeping most of the arts alive and if it werent for the ufc most of your own schools wouldnt be n business."
This clearly shows that you don;t understand what is happening to the martial arts. Having watched the changes is the martial arts overall, I feel qualified to speak about this. My knowledge is not from other opinions or short term observations. My perspective has come from well over 40 years of being right in the thick of the martial arts. I've watched many martial arts instructors lower the standards of what is acceptable. During the last four decades, I've watched the martial arts go from a serious method of martial arts to a baby sitting service. Through the years there have been many new martial arts fads. mma, Krav Maga, and a host of others are only the latest fads. They are not keeping alive the martial arts in any way. If anything they serve to leave the public that much more ignorant of what a MARTIAL ARTS really are. Each new system claims to show the truth and a quicker more effective method of combat. Yet they all are composed of only movements. They have no spirit or higher levels. The true ARTS will never die. The reason is simple there are still a few of us that teach the arts as they were taught long ago. We few will continue to teach others the way things should be. We are producing students with the same understanding of the value of traditional arts. Our students will continue to teach others the "Way". Several generations from now someone will still be saying that "their" martial sport is what is keeping the martial arts alive. While these comments persist, we traditional exponents of "The Way" will just keep doing things the old way.
Over 41 years of martial arts training and research (since 1967)
Over 35 years of teaching martial arts (since 1973)