While rooted in structure and consistency, the ancient endeavor of martial arts continues to evolve each year. Like the fitness industry, several trends emerged or strengthened this year in martial arts. Some of these trends have been gradually developing and will undoubtedly enter 2019 with popular momentum.

Martial Arts for Physical Fitness

The relationship between fitness and martial arts is a long-standing one. Personal fitness, from weight management to core strength, is often viewed as an underlying benefit of many martial arts programs.  As the two industries evolve, they seem to get closer and closer to one another. More specifically, many students and school owners are discovering a new common reason for inquiry – to get in shape. In fact, according to IBISWorld (2018), “73% of people who practice martial arts or attend classes at a studio do so for physical fitness.”

Class rules and expectations vary from discipline to discipline, but there is a social component to most martial arts schools. Much like HIIT classes, the blend of social interaction with something that is both fun and difficult is appealing in today’s marketplace.

Want to see more ways to get more students for your school? Download our Student Recruitment Guide for Martial Arts!
Conditioning for Martial Arts

As more people discover martial arts, whether for self-defense, fitness or competition, more people will specifically train to improve their martial arts performance. This trend mirrors our previous observation in that these two industries seem to get closer and closer. The rise of professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a prominent example of this trend as athletes’ strength and conditioning journeys are publicly documented for fans and viewers. Many fans and viewers model their personal fitness and martial arts practices off of their favorite athletes. Even more specifically, a unique relationship has emerged between Yoga and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Many studios and schools are now cross-promoting as BJJ students experience the mobility benefits of Yoga.

BJJ as a Spectator Sport 

BJJ is going “mainstream” and its increasing popularity is generating demand for media coverage. As with most industries, especially the martial arts, there are different schools of thought within BJJ. Some groups do not emphasize Sport BJJ and instead focus on the classic self-defense curriculum. Other groups place significant focus on Sport BJJ and see it as a way to turn “theory” into practice.

Although the complex nature of a BJJ match can make it difficult to watch, more and more people are following sites like FloGrappling. It’s unlikely BJJ will ever come close to the global viewership of professional MMA, but it is a dynamic discipline that is positioned for massive growth in 2019.

Is your martial arts business prepared for growth in 2019? The keys to capitalizing on this special time in martial arts are student recruitment and student retention. Get your copy of our Insider’s Guide to Student Recruitment!


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