Economic Trends in Martial Arts

Written by:
Tu Le
October 18, 2023
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The huge growth in interest toward mixed martial arts, alongside sustained karate trends, is generating intense interest, arguably more so than the arts’ first heyday over half a century ago. Perhaps most notable, however, is that people are turning their interest into action and taking on learning martial arts themselves.

With that being said, the martial arts gym industry is seeing an uptick in newly enrolled students, and new schools and dojos are appearing throughout the country. All of that is to say that martial arts gym owners have come into far more income.

Nevertheless, it’s important to have an understanding of where the martial arts and karate market is heading, so let’s examine some of the most pertinent factors behind its evolution and its future outlook.

Martial Arts Industry Trends

Like all brick-and-mortar businesses, martial arts centers saw an instant drop-off at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, but once vaccinations were made available during the following year, enrollment in dojos, gyms, and martial arts training centers jumped back up.

Americans have since been reacquainting themselves with sports and fitness activities, a trend that undoubtedly feeds into the growth of the martial arts market. There may also be a surge in interest in self-defense due to rising uneasiness about personal safety.

Types of Martial Arts

Some of the most prominent martial arts forms in the United States are as follows:

  • Karate
  • Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
  • Judo
  • Kendo
  • Jiu Jitsu
  • Aikido
  • Muay Thai
  • Krav Maga
  • Taekwondo
  • Kung Fu

Each of these disciplines has experienced a wave of renewed interest over the past few years.

Martial Arts Growth and Popularity in the United States

Martial arts came into prominence in the United States during the late 1960s, with kung fu and karate taking the lead as the initial trends. Today, martial arts are firmly entrenched in the mainstream thanks to media exposure and focus on fitness and self-defense, and the most recent boom in their popularity is in part driven by the growth of combat sports, especially ultimate fighting and boxing.

Statista reports that around half of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 consider themselves fans of combat sports, with more than 15% claiming to be “avid” fans. Even those in older demographics are fans of combat sports, as 34% are between 45 and 64, and 20% of them are 65 and older.

The most recent statistics available show that Americans are increasingly turning to martial arts as a form of exercise and physical fitness. According to Statista, 2.34 million people in the U.S. practiced martial arts in 2021, with karate and taekwondo topping the list, and over a million took part in martial arts competitions.

Martial Arts Business and Revenue Trends

The martial arts market is a haven of growth in an uncertain economy. According to Statista, 50,490 martial arts businesses are operating in America as of 2022, nearly double the number from 2017. Furthermore, the industry had 61,280 employees in 2020, a number that is fully expected to grow to 72,810 once 2022’s reports are finalized.

That popularity is undoubtedly turning a hefty profit. In 2020, the combined worth of U.S. martial arts studios was $8.16 billion, and IBISWorld estimates that worth grew to a collective $11.3 billion in 2022.

Martial arts gyms of all sizes are realizing gains. Schools with between 101 and 200 students can expect $154,433 in revenue, while large studios with over 300 members can earn $369,209. Even a martial arts school with fewer than 50 students can expect to earn $30,782 in annual profits, according to Gymdesk.

When it comes to specific schools, MMA gyms currently lead all martial arts disciplines in annual revenue. An MMA gym owner can expect to earn over $250,000 annually, far more than the owner of a boxing ($152,544), Brazilian jiu-jitsu ($139,193), or karate ($105,472) establishment.

Continued profitability is proving to be a boon to gym owners and their employees. Statista says that martial arts gym owners have the highest median salaries in the overall gym business.

Martial Arts Industry Outlook

After steep declines and dojo closures during the initial heights of the COVID pandemic, the martial arts market is unquestionably on the rebound. Studios, academies, training centers, dojos, dojangs, kwoons, and other centers all stand to gain from increasing interest and demand in karate, taekwondo, judo, kendo, jiu-jitsu, and other martial arts trends.

Above all else, such establishments are beginning to be regarded as community centers where shared experience and support are as vital as learning new skills. As long as that foundation stays intact, the trajectory for the martial arts market remains aimed at the stars.

Start a Free Trial to Learn More

Martial arts trends indicate nothing but upward movement in both the near and distant future, and competition between martial arts businesses can be almost as intense as the sport itself. With that said, MyStudio helps gym owners navigate their complex business and realize true success in the karate market.

Our software and services cover almost all the details of running a martial arts business. MyStudio tools address membership management, payment structure, sales-boosting efforts, and churn reduction. With full reporting capability, automated tasks, marketing strategies, and more, we help martial arts gyms earn more profits and customer satisfaction. Find out more with a free trial today.

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Written By
Tu Le

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