The martial arts have a history which dates as far back as modern human civilization. As long as humans have been interested in aggression, there has been a need to defend oneself. Rudimentary martial arts were developed to satisfy this need. As the civilizations in antiquity grew and established themselves, specific martial arts traditions did the same.
Early forms of martial arts include wrestling and shuai jiao.
Western interest in the traditions of martial arts developed in the 19th century, as trade routes made the world a smaller place. In Europe, savate and boxing began to appear, replacing dueling swords and folk wrestling. In the United States, judo, tae kwon do, and jujutsu began to appear.
Media interest in the martial arts began in the 1970s and this exploded the growth of the industry. Movies from Asia and Hollywood began to incorporate martial arts elements into various storylines.
With the development of mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions, the martial arts industry is poised to see continued interest in the traditions established so long ago.
Important Marital Arts Industry Statistics
#1. About 3.6 million people actively participate in the martial arts industry in the United States each year. Participants under the age of 6 are not tracked for statistical purposes. (Statista)
#2. Marital arts studios are able to generate about $4 billion in revenues each year within the U.S. market. From 2012-2017, the industry was able to achieve an annualized rate of growth average of 4.2%. (IBIS World)
#3. Many martial arts studios are owned and operated by a single instructor. There are 75,000 firms operating within the U.S.-based industry today, employing just over 80,000 people. (IBIS World)
#4. There are more schools in the United States for martial arts than anywhere in the world. The United States has 16 times more schools than Australia, which comes in second for the global industry. (Martial Info)
#5. California (2,181), Florida (1,741), and New York (1,080) all have more martial arts studios accepting clients than Australia, with 1,035 locations. (Martial Info)
#6. 15% of consumers who work with a martial arts studio do so for personal training or small group training needs. Just 4% of studios in the United States that are marketed as a fitness location feature martial arts training. (Association of Fitness Studios)
#7. More than 18 million people in the United States tried karate at least once in the past 12 months. Adults are three times more likely to try karate classes compared to children. (Simmons Market Research)
#8. 28% of adults in the United States say that they participate in martial arts every chance they get to do so. At the same time, only 5% of adults in the U.S. say that they’ve participated at least once in a class within the past year. (Simmons Market Research)
#9. Men (52%) are slightly more likely than women (48%) to participate in martial arts. Gender statistics include children participating in their preferred martial art. (Simmons Market Research)
#10. 63% of adults that participate in formal martial arts instruction are within the ages of 18-34. For the 50+ age demographic, they compose 11% of the adult population engaged in martial arts instruction. (Simmons Market Research)
#11. 1 in 4 teens participated in a martial arts class within the past year. Boys are three percentage points more likely to have tried marital arts than girls in the past 12 months. (Simmons Market Research)
#12. Two out of three teens who participate in the martial arts say that sports are an important part of their social life. 77% of teens say that their participation in martial arts helps to keep them healthy. Those figures are 10% higher compared to teens who participate in sports other than a martial art. (Simmons Market Research)
#13. Access is an issue for martial arts instruction. 28% of children who participate in martial arts come from households earning at least $50,000 per year. In comparison, just 10% of children living in households earning less than $50,000 per year participate in martial arts. (Simmons Market Research)
#14. 13% of children under the age of 11 have participated in a martial arts activity within the past year. The gender difference in young children is much higher than it is for the industry as a whole. 61% of children under 11 who participate in martial arts are boys. (Simmons Market Research)
#15. 35% of people who are interested in the martial arts industry take mixed martial arts classes. This is followed by karate (22.2%), taekwondo (12.8%), and judo (10.2%). (IBIS World)
#16. 73% of people who practice martial arts or attend classes at a studio do so for physical fitness. That ranks martial arts as the third-most likely physical activity for children in the 6-12 age demographic to participate in this year. (IBIS World)
#17. Most martial arts studios are independently owned and operated. Over 90% of the studios have annual revenues less than 1% each year. (IBIS World)
#18. The largest martial arts studio franchise in the United States is Tiger-Rock Martial Arts. In 2015, the company had 158 franchisees operating throughout the United States. Even with their status as the largest franchise, their total market share for the industry as a whole in the U.S. is just 1.8%. (IBIS World)
#19. Although there are about 30,000 facilities which offer at least one martial arts program in the United States, just 8,500 studios are specifically for martial arts. (IBIS World)
Marital Arts Industry Trends and Analysis
The benefits of martial arts are many. It provides participants with improved mobility. It improves core strength and power. Many participants report improved flexibility, stability, and coordination. It provides stress relief and even lowers blood pressure levels.
As an industry, martial arts studios do have some challenges ahead which must be addressed. Many people like the idea of participating in martial arts. Actual attendance rates are nowhere near the percentage of people who say they’re interested in this industry. Just 1 out of every 5 people who express interest in martial arts will actually pursue that interest to a studio to attend at least one class.
With the increase of mixed martial arts competition and various other outlets of exposure for the traditions of this industry, demand levels will likely increase in the coming years. There will also be higher demand levels for martial arts equipment to use at home.
Different communities may see varied results because of unique geographical demands placed on the industry. As a whole, however, the industry looks to be on a healthy pace of growth that shows no signs of stopping.