Should the martial arts be more mainstream?

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Should the martial arts be more mainstream?

So in the sporting world we have the FIFAs, the PGAs, the NFLs, the mainstream, massively funded and massively fan based sports. The closest equivalent to this in the martial arts is arguably the UFC and I think its fair to say that MMA is getting bigger and bigger on a global scale, with more and more people becoming interested in both training and spectating mixed martial arts. Should the martial arts be more mainstream however? There are obviously plus and minuses for both sides of the argument and I think it’s an interesting debate topic.

Let’s imagine the martial arts were MASSIVE, I’m talking football, rugby etc massive. Football wouldn’t be the main option in schools for children, you wouldn’t go down to the local park to kick a football around, you’d go down to the local gym and kick a punchbag around. This sounds great yeah, the martial arts as a mainstream skill or sport? I agree it does, and I want martial arts to be a bigger thing within society for the discipline, fitness and confidence that they can instill in people, especially children, however if this were the case would it make the martial arts less special?


Imagine there was a massive governing body for the martial arts, the FIFA of the martial arts world. Again, would this lead to more problems? I’ve discussed before the prevalence of politics in the martial arts (Here’s a past article) and how ego can often get in the way of the simple formula of fantastic people, fantastic training and fantastic development and progression. Get this right and I think you’re on to a winner in the martial arts. The emergence of a massive governing body for the martial arts will bring forth its own problems and as the old saying goes, where there’s people, there’s politics. How long before standards start slipping, people start falling out, and more and more McDojos pop up offering online course black belts and guaranteed success in self protection, all due to mainstreaming? Newsflash, there is no guarantee when it comes to self protection, and black belt requires hard work, dedication and sweat, not the watching of various online videos with the promise of black belt bad-assery at the end.

Even as martial arts are at the moment, there are enough egos needing to be massaged, falling’s out over trivial matters and frankly ridiculous and awful examples of self protection, that are not only misleading but frankly dangerous! Would martial arts becoming more mainstream improve or increase this? Is there any full proof way of ensuring quality and quantity in the martial arts?

6 thoughts on “Should the martial arts be more mainstream?

  1. As soon as you go down this road it gets difficult! Which martial art will be mainstream! Judo and Taekwondo are olympic sports! That’s pretty mainstream!? Do we perhaps need people to have respect for the values that we who train in martial arts aspire to!

  2. I can’t say having the M.A industry as a mainstream would benefit the U.S. at least. I think we’re too conservative towards physical violence. We’re desensitized to weaponized violence for sure but even with wide spread McDojo usage, due to movies or series like TMNT or Power Rangers, we don’t see the pride in training. I mean it this way, by way of comparison, Judo in Japan or even I’m told Great Britain/Sambo in Russia. These are taught in middle and high school. The general public sees it as right of passage to work to receive at least 1st Dan. If the failed attempts by K-1 here the U.S. have proven anything it’s that M.A/DT have underground followings for a reason.

  3. The politics would be horrible. Which art would be the premier style? What rules would apply? kicking/striking only? grappling only? How do you determine a World Champion?

    Now, those points notwithstanding, the bigger problem is the constant flux of athletes. Boxing saw a grand era and has now faded. As these athletes train better, they cause more damage faster and their career is shorter. This is not too different from Figure Skating and Gymnastics, either. Golf has legendary names but look how long they can play the sport.

    If there were some way to make the martial arts a team sport, then it may have a chance. But if that were the case, I think that wrestling would still be wrestling and not an entertaining show with great athletes. Swimming and Track would also have become much more popular.

    Using the team sport perspective gives you the chance to develop a lasting fan base and following. The Green Bay packers won the first Super bowl and the team still exists today…but with different players. The same is true for hockey and baseball. I don’t see the martial arts keeping a team together long enough to draw any real and lasting notice.

    To get martial arts into the mainstream, it would take moving away from sports completely. There is not competitive yoga program. The main track events are marathons that draw people not for the sport competition but for the challenge of running the whole course.

    We need to take ourselves out of the sport and fitness realm and develop academics to provide knowledge in how to serve better. I use the term “serve” because it fits any business that has customers. Applying the martial arts concepts, theories and strategies to personal communication and business is probably the most important part of our training. The Book of Five Rings and The Art of War are sold in the business section of stores. A premier conflict resolution program is called Verbal Judo.

    Let’s get out of sports & fitness and truly develop the next generations with valuable knowledge!

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