Peter A Goldsbury
I think your comments could apply to any art or sport, though perhaps in different ways. Recently, I gave a paper in St Petersburg and the organizers (mainly from sports) suggested the title of 'Values of Aikido as a Demonstration Sport'. So I discussed the values of sports. There is the same fuzziness of definition with 'sport' as well as with 'art', similarly with what counts as being a 'better person'. I have argued elsewhere that Morihei Ueshiba conceived what he was doing as primarily a 'religious' activity, so this adds another fuzzy concept to the mix.
The question of the value of an art has been around for a very long time and some, like Aristotle, have suggested that practicing the art is its own justification. It does not intrinsically add any further value. It might do, but this is because you already have a value system in which you include practicing the art.
I agree. I think there is a big difference between doing stuff that makes you happy and receiving happiness from the stuff. I HUGE difference. For example, I have no expectations that my happiness will be derived from a particular kata. I love to ski and mountain climb as well. I LOVE it. I am no happier than "in the moment" of a great climb. However, the event, place, or time does not in itself produce happiness.
I just finished listening to a bunch of lectures by Joseph Campbell who makes a very solid case for the need of myth, rituals, and practices and why they are important for people and society. So, yes, these things do have a place if kept in the right perspective and we do not place a level of expectation on the practices that is perverse.