MATA Annual Martial Arts School Business Report: 2017 Where Did 5,432 Martial Arts Schools Go?

MATA Annual Martial Arts School Business Report: 2017 Where Did 5,432 Martial Arts Schools Go?

How Billy Joel Can Help Your Retention

This is an update to the article at the bottom of this page.

I know a guy, Steve Harrison, who is a huge Billy Joel fan. He wanted to learn how to play the piano just so he could play along with The Piano Man.

Steve went to a music school and told the instructor that he wanted to learn how to play piano like Billy Joel. The instructor told him, “No problem. Just enroll and we’ll get started.” For the next four weeks, the instructor tutored this guy on the classical piano. It was hard. It was not fun. Most of all, it was not Billy Joel. Steve figured that learning piano was just too hard, so he quit.

Almost three years later, he was speaking with a client of his when he noticed a keyboard in his office. Steve told the client about his frustrating experience with the piano school. The client laughed and said, “Steve, Billy Joel is super easy to play. It’s just three chords. Watch…” Steve said his jaw dropped and within 60-seconds he was playing Billy Joel.

This is the experience for too many students in martial arts schools. There is a tight set of benefits they are seeking yet, like the piano instructor, we create all kinds of hoops for the students to jump through in order to reach them.

Though we’ve taught this way for decades, it’s failing. People are more educated about what’s involved in martial arts than ever before and they are choosing other activities.

When I start working with a new coaching client, one of the first places I go is to their curriculum. Your curriculum is like the recipe book for your restaurant. Do your recipes have your students asking for more? Or, are they choking them down for a few months before excusing themselves from the table?

Take a good look at your curriculum. Odds are it is bloated and boring. There are way too many requirements and most of them only remotely related to the benefits a student is seeking when enrolling in a martial arts school.

If you’d like some help, email me and/or join MATA, which has a ton of curriculum content.

NOTE: Below is the annual State of the Schools article that this is a follow up to.

MATA Annual Martial Arts School Business Report: 2017
Where did 5,342 Martial Arts Schools Go?

December 30, 2017, post

Though it seems like there is a martial arts school on every corner, according to, the number of martial arts school businesses in the USA continues to decline:

2013: 20,234
2016: 15,896
2017: 14,901

These are businesses under Karate & Other Martial Arts Instruction (7999-44) and Martial Arts Instruction (7999-45.) That’s about a 27% decline in four years. Where did 5,342 schools go since 2013?

Based upon the number of new schools that join MATA each month, we know schools are opening. The problem is that more are closing than opening.

The question is: Why? We’ll post our thoughts next week. In the meantime, please share yours below in the comment box.