The martial arts scene in the UK and Ireland has always been diverse and rich, with numerous disciplines gaining traction over the years. However, pinning down exact numbers of practitioners can be quite challenging. I’ll provide a general overview based on the popularity and presence of these martial arts in the UK and Ireland up until 2022:
- Boxing: Boxing has deep historical roots in both the UK and Ireland, producing numerous world champions. It remains a popular sport at both amateur and professional levels. It’s challenging to determine exact numbers, but the UK and Ireland together might have upwards of a hundred thousand active participants, including those in amateur clubs and schools.
- Karate: Karate has had a long-standing presence in the UK and Ireland, with numerous clubs and associations supporting its growth. It’s likely that there are tens of thousands of practitioners.
- Judo: Like Karate, Judo has been popular in the UK and Ireland for decades, with numerous clubs and a solid infrastructure in place. Tens of thousands of Judokas might be a fair estimate.
- BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu): BJJ has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Numerous gyms, clubs, and academies have sprouted throughout the UK and Ireland. The number of practitioners might be in the tens of thousands, and it’s growing.
- Kickboxing & Muay Thai: These striking arts have gained a lot of popularity, with kickboxing being practiced for several decades and Muay Thai gaining more traction in recent years. Combined, they likely have tens of thousands of practitioners.
- Taekwondo: With its Olympic status, Taekwondo has also found a home in the UK and Ireland. Several thousands of practitioners might be training in Taekwondo.
- Krav Maga: As a self-defense system, Krav Maga has been growing in popularity, especially in urban areas. There might be several thousand practitioners across the UK and Ireland.
- MMA (Mixed Martial Arts): The growth of MMA globally has also impacted the UK and Ireland, with stars like Conor McGregor bringing attention to the sport. Many gyms have incorporated MMA training, and the number of practitioners has been on the rise, potentially in the tens of thousands.
- Aikido & Traditional Jiu-Jitsu: Both these arts have a presence in the UK and Ireland, with a number of dedicated clubs and dojos. They might have several thousands of practitioners combined.
- Wing Chun: This Chinese martial art has found its niche in the UK and Ireland, with several thousand practitioners likely.
This list provides a broad view of the martial arts scene in the UK and Ireland, and the numbers are rough estimates. The popularity of these arts can vary regionally and can change over time due to various factors, including cultural influences, the success of local athletes on the world stage, and more.