Fastest Growing Martial Arts In America: The Rise of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Trend Analysis)

    Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) has been steadily gaining popularity in the United States over the past few decades. Originally developed in Brazil, this martial art focuses on grappling and ground fighting techniques. BJJ has proven to be highly effective in combat sports such as mixed martial arts (MMA) and has gained a strong following among practitioners of all ages and skill levels.

    In this report, we will delve into the growth of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in America and how it compares to other combat sports. We analyzed data from Google Trends to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current state and future projections of BJJ in America.

    This original Submission Shark report aims to educate and inform readers, potential students, and sports journalists, on the rising popularity of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the country.

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Is The Fastest Growing Combat Sport In America

    According to Google Trends data, the search interest for Brazilian jiu-jitsu has consistently increased over the past two decades, surpassing other popular combat sports.

    We also decided to conduct a trend analysis by comparing BJJ with other martial arts such as Judo, Karate, Muay Thai and Taekwondo. We selected these sports due to their established presence in the American market and their inclusion as a hobby or fitness activity for many individuals.

    The results were stunning, with Brazilian jiu-jitsu showing a significant increase in search interest compared to the other martial arts. We looked at the past two decades (2004-2024) and found that search interest for Brazilian jiu-jitsu has increased by a staggering 104.35%.

    In contrast, Judo saw a decrease of search interest of -47.62%. This is an interesting find considering that BJJ has strong historical ties to Judo, with the founders of BJJ being trained by Japanese Judokas.

    When it comes to the striking based combat sports included in the trend analysis, Muay Thai showed the highest search interest growth at 69.23%. Both karate and taekwondo saw a decrease in search interest, with -60.94% and -66%. These findings suggest that there has been a shift in interest towards grappling-based sports, with BJJ leading the way.

    This Google Search trend data further confirms the growing popularity of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in recent years.

    What Is The Motivation Behind The Growth of BJJ In The U.S?

    Now that we have established the significant growth of BJJ in the U.S., it is important to understand why this martial art has become increasingly popular. There are several factors that can be attributed to its rise in popularity...

    Rise of UFC and Other MMA Promotions

    The rise of Brazilian jiu-jitsu can be attributed to the growing popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA), specifically the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). With BJJ being a fundamental aspect of MMA, the success and visibility of top BJJ fighters in UFC events have sparked interest in the sport from both casual viewers and traditional martial artists.

    Royce Gracie, a BJJ black belt and member of the famous Gracie family, gained international recognition when he won three out of the first four UFC tournaments in the early 1990s. This put BJJ on the map and solidified its effectiveness as a combat sport.

    Since then, many other MMA promotions from various regions have emerged, with BJJ being a prominent style among fighters. This has further contributed to the growth and popularity of BJJ in the U.S. Joe Rogan, the famous UFC commentator and BJJ black belt, has also played a significant role in promoting the sport through his podcast and commentary during UFC events.

    These celebrity endorsements and media exposure have undoubtedly helped bring BJJ to a wider audience and motivate people to try the sport. The positive PR for BJJ has also attracted many new practitioners, leading to the establishment of numerous gyms and training facilities across the country.

    Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations

    Another factor that has contributed to the popularity of BJJ is its appeal to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Intrinsic motivations refer to the personal satisfaction and fulfillment one gets from practicing a particular activity, while extrinsic motivations involve external rewards such as competition prizes and recognition.

    BJJ offers both of these motivators. On an intrinsic level, practitioners often speak of the mental and physical benefits they experience from practicing the art, such as increased confidence, discipline, and stress relief. On an extrinsic level, BJJ tournaments offer opportunities for recognition and competition prizes.

    Additionally, the belt system in BJJ provides a sense of progression and achievement that can be motivating for practitioners. This combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations makes BJJ an appealing activity for a wide range of individuals.

    A study conducted by Tarver and Levy (2023) on the motivations of BJJ practitioners revealed that a high percentage of participants reported that "Fitness motivators were relatively stronger than appearance and social motives—especially if they compete in BJJ." This suggests that practitioners are drawn to BJJ for the physical and mental benefits rather than solely for appearance or social reasons.

    Other martial arts are also associated with intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, but BJJ stands out for its unique combination of both. This may contribute to the continued growth and popularity of the sport. Some may find that the combination of personal development and competition in BJJ offers a more well-rounded experience compared to other martial arts.

    As more data and studies are conducted on the motivations of BJJ practitioners, we may gain further insights into what makes this martial art so appealing to individuals from all walks of life.

    Safety and Practicality in BJJ

    BJJ is often touted as one of the most practical and effective martial arts for self-defense. This is due to its focus on grappling and ground fighting techniques, which are essential for real-life self-defense situations.

    In addition, BJJ places a strong emphasis on using technique and leverage rather than brute strength, making it accessible to people of all sizes and ages. This is a strong selling point for individuals looking to learn self-defense skills without relying on physical strength.

    Moreover, BJJ also emphasizes safety in training. Techniques are taught with the utmost attention to detail and practitioners are trained to control their movements to prevent injury to themselves or their training partners. Unlike striking martial arts where concussion and other head injuries are common, BJJ has a lower risk of serious injury. This makes it appealing to individuals who may have concerns about safety in other martial arts.

    Although concussions do happen in BJJ, the more competent a practitioner becomes, the more they can control their movements and reduce the risk of injury. Other sports mentioned in the trend analysis such as karate have low risk of concussive injury but that doesn't change the perception that striking isn't safe for some. Some may view BJJ as a safer alternative to striking martial arts, especially for those who may have concerns about head injuries.

    Is BJJ The Most Popular Martial Arts In America?

    Despite the growth and popularity of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it is still not the most popular martial art in America. When factoring in a trend analysis of other popular martial arts such as boxing, MMA (mixed martial arts), and wrestling, BJJ did not rank at the top.

    There is still significantly more search volume and interest for these other martial arts in America. MMA may be growing faster than BJJ but MMA comprises of multiple martial arts including BJJ. Thus, Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a single martial arts discipline remains the fastest growing martial art in America but not the most popular.

    However, the rise in popularity of Brazilian jiu-jitsu cannot be ignored. The sport has seen a surge in interest and participation over the past decades, with more and more people discovering its unique appeal. This growth can also be attributed to the success of BJJ practitioners in combat sports such as MMA and grappling tournaments like ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club). These high-profile events have brought attention and recognition to BJJ as an effective martial art.

    Future Projections of BJJ's Popularity

    With the current trend of popularity, it is expected that Brazilian jiu-jitsu will continue to grow and gain more recognition in the future. According to Google Trends, interest in BJJ still remains high, with a consistent level of search activity over the years. This indicates that the sport has established a strong following and is maintaining its popularity.

    Many martial arts gyms around the world now offer BJJ classes as part of their curriculum, making it more accessible for people of all ages and backgrounds. The rise of women's only BJJ classes and children's programs also shows the inclusivity of the sport, making it appealing to a wider audience.

    Another factor that can contribute to the future growth of BJJ is its effectiveness for self-defense. In today's world, where safety concerns are prevalent, many people are seeking ways to learn how to protect themselves. Brazilian jiu-jitsu offers practical techniques and strategies for self-defense in real-life situations, making it a valuable skill to have.

    Of course, major events can also significantly impact the growth (and decline) of BJJ in the future. But as of the past two decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of search interest and participation in the sport. With major MMA organizations such as ONE Championship further promoting BJJ through their events, the sport is expected to continue to thrive and attract more people in the coming years.

    Why Is This Data Important For The Martial Arts Industry?

    Understanding the growth and popularity of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is important for the martial arts industry as it can inform business strategies, marketing efforts, and training programs. It also highlights the importance of adapting and evolving in response to changing trends and consumer preferences. The data can also serve as a benchmark for comparing the success of other martial arts disciplines and identifying potential areas for growth.

    Additionally, this data showcases the potential impact of mainstream media exposure on niche sports or activities, underscoring the importance of visibility in attracting new practitioners and growing a fan base. As such, businesses in the martial arts industry should not only focus on providing quality instruction but also invest in creating a strong online presence and engaging with popular culture to attract and retain students.

    One such strategy is to promote the health and fitness benefits of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which can appeal to a wider audience beyond just martial arts enthusiasts. With the growing popularity of wellness and self-care, BJJ's emphasis on physical and mental strength can serve as a unique selling point.

    Thus, understanding the current state and potential growth of BJJ can help businesses in the martial arts industry capitalize on this trend and attract a diverse group of practitioners. Many black belts that have been in the sport for multiple years also attributes the "family-friendly" environment to the successful growth of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

    Furthermore, as the popularity of BJJ continues to grow, it may open up new opportunities for collaborations and partnerships with other industries. This could also lead to collaborations with fitness brands, supplement companies, or even fashion brands looking to tap into the growing market of BJJ practitioners.

    Finally, Martial arts marketing agencies may begin to pivot their targeting efforts towards BJJ and offer specialized services tailored to this specific discipline. These insights can help steer the direction of the entire martial arts industry and challenge participants to engage in business and personal decisions that align with growth trends.

    Final Thoughts

    Through our analysis, it is evident that Brazilian jiu-jitsu has experienced a significant surge in popularity in the United States. With its practicality and applicability in various combat sports, BJJ has proven to be a martial art worth investing time and effort into. As more individuals seek to improve their physical fitness and self-defense skills, it is no surprise that BJJ continues to grow in popularity.

    With the rise of Brazilian jiu-jitsu comes the need for sports specific gear and apparel. Submission Shark is a leader in providing high-quality BJJ and MMA clothing, as well as equipment and accessories for practitioners of all levels. BJJ gis for sale and other merchandise can be found on our website, along with informative articles and resources for those interested in learning more about BJJ. Your support helps us to write and research more content, so we thank you for being a part of the Submission Shark community.

    Disclaimer: The information presented in this report is based on original research conducted by Submission Shark. All data and commentary are gathered from reputable sources and industry experts to provide an unbiased and accurate analysis of the growth of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in America.

    If you'd like to reference or use any of the content in this report, please credit Submission Shark as the source with a link to our website.

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