The objective was to assess the effect of hard martial arts on the physical fitness components such as balance, flexibility, gait, strength, cardiorespiratory function and several mental functions in people over forty. A computerized literature search was carried out. Studies were selected when they had an experimental design, the age of the study population was >40, one of the interventions was a hard martial art, and when at least balance and cardiorespiratory functions were used as an outcome measure. We included four studies, with, in total, 112 participants, aged between 51 and 93 years. The intervention consisted of Taekwondo or Karate. Total training duration varied from 17 to 234 h. All four studies reported beneficial effects, such as improvement in balance, in reaction tests, and in duration of single leg stance. We conclude that because of serious methodological shortcomings in all four studies, currently there is suggestive, but insufficient evidence, that hard martial arts practice improves physical fitness functions in healthy people over 40. However, considering the importance of such effects, and the low costs of the intervention, the potential of beneficial health effects of age-adapted, hard martial arts training, in people over 40, warrants further study.