Here's a random topic - I've noticed that over 120 new members have joined MyFMA.net since March, representing schools and styles from all around the world. Our own group in Perris, CA has more than doubled in size since I first joined (easy to do when you're a small school to begin with).
Does this indicate a growth in popularity of FMA? or does the increased activity on this site reflect the role of the internet in making connections between FMA practitioners around the world.
The internet has surely provided us with a gathering place to share ideas and techniques without ever meeting in person. This makes the accumulation of knowledge much easier than it has been in the past. Being human, we like easy. We no longer have to travel half way around the world to receive "training". No it is not the same as a good teacher, but it is something.
I would say there has definitely been growth in the popularity of FMA in recent years. This may be due, in no small part, to the entertainment industry. The Karate Kid has been replaced with Jason Bourne, PG-13 violence in a film would certainly have been R rated when most of us were children. People get a better idea of what real violence might look like and realize that painting fences and waxing cars is not likely to save them in a real life and death encounter. MMA has made a big impact as well helping to bridge the gap between pure sporting systems and combative systems such as those found in several of the FMAs.
The Internet helps, but so does the tremendous visibility of MMA, mixed martial arts. It is possible that once MMA training becomes the standard bearer for hand to hand combat, lesser arts may die off, the curricula from many arts.will be consolidated and then the only thing remaining will be weapon or empty hands but this could take 20 years. I think FMA is in a good position.
I attended a boxing match here in Chicago at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois, sponsored by ShowTime / ShowBoxing, and while I do not know what the gate receipts were it was around 40% full. There is another boxing match on May 29th, at the same location, sponsored by Top Rank Boxing, seats are a bit more (2X to 3X) and I can let you know more at that time if you contact me because I plan to attend that event as well to promote my YouTube site.
Interest in boxing seems to have died from what it was in the 70's and MMA events seem to be gaining. I consider boxing to be a feeder to MMA, so I think that at some point the art will be hard to find as a stand alone art for instruction or a live venue. This is just a guess... things like this may take a loooong time to sort out, but here in the "City of Big Shoulders," boxing looks weak. If you go to a bar showing a UFC MMA event here in Chicago, there will be quite a full house, so much so that you will be standing for the event, and training facilities are heavily used
The net provides all martial arts the ability to communicate what you're all about with having to leave one's office. I have ti concur with Master Ron the net has provided opportunities that could have never happened before. Thanx Master Ron for seeing the big picture. Aloha!
From my own expierence of not knowing the FMA existed back in the early 90's until I was introduced by word of mouth, The internet is a great tool to get the word out. Just think of the exposure lost if the internet did not exisit. I can't say it is directly responsible, but one would hope it was.
I sell FMA Equipment and can vouch that FMA is continuing to grow.
The last 3 years or so we've sent our gear to over 40 different countries all over the world. I am contacted all the time by instructors who have just opened schools or students new to the art.
As has been discussed, the internet really helps with this. A couple of years back my Master did not have that many visiting students from overseas. We then made a website for him and since that time he's been booked solid with new students.
As people have also discussed, prior to things like you-tube people had to rely on books, magazines and hard to come by VHS video to see new things. Now it's all there at a click of a button and it is capturing people's attention and imagination.
I do think like most things it will reach a plateau but at the moment it doesn't seem to be slowing down.
It seems there's consensus that we're definitely experiencing an upswell in the FMA - more people are getting involved all around the world. Everyone also agrees that the internet plays an important role in making information about the FMA more accessible to lots of people.
So who are these people? Who makes up this growth swell? Are we attracting experienced martial artists wanting to explore something beyond the style they've trained in all their lives? Are we attracting the self-defense oriented crowd, hoping to learn to handle themselves quickly and effectively in the streets? Is it law enforcement? College Students? MMA Fighters?
In my experience a large part is Martial Artists from other empty-handed styles.
In the UK every year they have the "Seni" Expo. It's the largest Martial Arts trade show in Europe and had 25,000 people visit over the last weekend it convened.
2 Years ago I flew back to the UK and had a stall there. I was caught out as I took the "Specialist" items that sold well on the net. I was inundated with people new to the art wanting to know more information and buy basic sticks and training knives.
I think people are realizing that a lot of violent confrontations in the street happen with some form of weapon and want to specialize in dealing with this threat. FMA is not new but at that time TV programs like "Human Weapon" and "Fight Quest" also helped raise the awareness and profile of the arts.
Also, FMA is in "Vogue" at the moment - particularly it's bladed applications and people tend to flock to fashionable things. Videos on youtube of Batista (WWE) doing FMA and movies like Bourne, Taken, The Hunted etc, etc all play their part.
I don't think MMA fighters really pursue it with such vigor. I guess they are looking for more competition / cage fighting where most (not all - dog bros spring to mind) FMA does not have the same kind of kind of thing. Also, a lot of systems do not emphasize the "Dumog" aspects so the applications are hard to see for MMA.
Of course and there have been visuals of Kali and Escrima in coutless movies ( The Bourne Movies come to mind with Jeff Imada doing the awesome fight scene choreography) and on television ( Human Weapon and Fight Quest). People are also comming to the realization that weapons first empty hands second is a life saving concept. FMA is on the move in the arenas of those who are looking for practical self defense and combatives systems ( Filipino Marines taking Pekiti Tirsia Kali as their fighting art) and even great systems like the Isreali Krav Maga starts empty hand . FMA is a law enforcement God send if they could grasp the concept and have continual manditory training in it. Peace, Don