The 2019 Martial Arts State of the Industry

How is the martial arts industry in the US performing? In as few words as possible: business is booming, and many disciplines are experiencing growth. As 2018 ends, we are looking at the numbers to see how the industry is doing and what we can expect in the next year.

Are Martial Arts Making a Comeback?

10 years ago, nearly 7 million people in the US were participating in martial arts, according to Statista. After 2009, the midst of the recession, this number dropped by a staggering 60% (to 2.66 million). Since then, the industry has been on the rebound, and the latest numbers show that about 3.42 million people are actively practicing martial arts.  

While the numbers haven’t reached their 2009 levels, the industry is still experiencing solid growth. Market research from IBISWorld projects the martial arts industry will bring in a total of $4 billion in revenue in 2018 and has grown at an annual rate of 4.2% over the last five years. The total number of martial arts facilities, which currently stands at around 79,373, has grown by 6.6% over last year, and the total number of employees (currently 85,941) has grown by 6.0%. 

Keep in mind that the IBIS numbers take into account the following martial arts disciplines: 

  • Mixed martial arts 
  • Karate 
  • Taekwondo 
  • Judo 
  • Jiu-Jitsu 

Demographic Breakdowns

When it comes to martial arts training, men make up 64.7% of the industry’s clientele, and consumers under the age of 17 generate 54.7% of the revenue. Many martial arts disciplines are still geared towards children, but adults are beginning to practice multiple disciplines, and mixed martial arts is leading the push in revenue generated by participants 18 and older —MMA equipment revenue is expected to hit $565 million by 2022. While the total number of MMA facilities in the US is unknown, it’s estimated that 35% of people who have practiced martial arts have also taken mixed martial arts classes. 

What Can We Expect in 2019?

The traditional martial arts industry has rebounded over the years — it continues to grow year over year — and MMA is continuing to surge in popularity. As for Zebra Athletics, we will always be here to outfit facilities with everything they need to train with confidence.  


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