An Old Market Driven By New Opportunities

Martial arts in China have been practiced for hundreds of years. Today, with Consumers’ newfound leisure spending, their practice is on the highest in its historical past. Given China’s fast evolution in all sectors, we investigated the numerous new dynamics reshaping this quite traditional market.

A booming market – components for the success of martial arts in China
A focus area for development in China’s sports business
Traditional Chinese martial arts are acknowledged all through the world and are a pressure of Chinese soft energy. Martial arts developed in China round 500 AD, notably, within the famous forest mountain temple Shaolin. These conventional martial arts could be referred to as Kung Fu or Wushu. As for Shaolin art, it is a type of Kung Fu solely practiced in this temple and called Shao Lin Kung Fu.

Therefore, because of its sturdy tie to Chinese tradition, the Chinese authorities wants to put this art back within the spotlight in its national economic plan: the Chinese Martial Arts Five-year Development Plan ( ).

This plan entails building more than 3,000 new martial arts schools in China by the top of the decade to create an industry value over 1 trillion yuan.

Today, Chinese individuals apply all kinds of martial arts. For example, Wing Chun is more popular in Guangdong province. Shaolin martial arts are extra prevalent in northern China. The Shaolin Temple of Dengfeng in Henan Province is the origin, and still a Shaolin Martial Arts instructing space today. Today, students still spend their summer season holidays on the Shaolin Temple practicing martial arts. This is a testomony to the continued success of martial arts in China, even among young individuals.

Chinese martial arts in art and leisure
Another issue for the success of martial arts in China is the art, cinema, music, and pop culture around it.

We reminisce of the broadly adored Kung Fu films by Bruce Lee and the Hong-Kong born actor Jackie Chan, who’s an emblematic mirror of Chinese tradition. He has even turn out to be an advisor to the Chinese authorities on delicate power and martial arts promotion strategies since 2013.

Martial arts are also lively in pop culture. On Bilibili, a well-known Chinese sharing video platform, short Kung Fu videos can reach up to 3 million views.

[Source: Bilibili – Martial arts in China] On Ximalaya, the most popular podcast platform in China, almost 200 authentic collection discuss Kung Fu.

[Source: Xiamalaya – Martial arts in China]The love of Kung Fu has brought billions of dollars to China via movies and sports clubs.

Indeed, studying Taekwondo, Boxing, Judo, or other courses in a club or fitness center could be very costly over the long term. An hour-long class costs round a hundred yuan for group classes and 300 to 500 yuan for private classes.

A conventional art that has proven to be a lucrative force and a supply of admiration for athletes all over the world.

Various martial arts in China
Taekwondo in China: a market with very high potential
Taekwondo, martial arts coming from Korea, is presently probably the most practiced martial art. Many gyms and clubs in main cities supply Taekwondo classes of varied ranges, which are typically attended by kids aged 5 to 14, principally boys.

Taekwondo gyms and golf equipment are well distributed in China, across 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous areas. The average variety of Taekwondo dojos in every province is 300. The trend of Taekwondo in China is now spreading beyond the first-tier cities to second and third-tier cities.

In current years, one follow of Taekwondo has been particularly popular: Aishang Taekwondo. It is a training institution for younger kids prepared to succeed in a high-level and even become professionals. Founded in 2011, it has now 40 dojos in China and has become the chief of Taekwondo training establishments in 2018 with revenue of about forty million yuan.

In 2018, Aishang Taekwondo coaching institute even received an funding of 10 million yuan from OneSmart International Education Group, a extensively known academic group in China.

Tai Chi, probably the most famous ‘‘soft Chinese martial art’’
Practiced for more than four hundred years, Tai Chi is a type of exercise that combines parts of martial arts, dance, and meditation. Tai Chi in China is taken into account as a ‘‘soft martial art’’ because of its roots: the Taoist monk who created it wished a non-competitive and gradual style of preventing.

Tai Chi in China is a day by day routine for millions of people, particularly the aged who like to apply it in parks or public spaces in China.

On Bilibili, some movies of Tai Chi lessons can reach 1,000,000 views.

[Source: Bilibili – Tai Chi in China]Muy Thai and Boxing in China
Boxing in China is quite seen as a foreign martial art. However, centuries ago, a sure kind of boxing, fairly different from the modern style, was practiced throughout the country: in the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), boxing was obligatory for soldiers of the national military.

Today, it is estimated that there are 80 million boxing athletes in China. Most of them are reported to be between the ages of 18 and 30, mostly men. The market is therefore still very younger and faces some difficulties corresponding to the fact that Chinese people find it too tough to study boxing significantly.

Boxing practitioners primarily practice this sport as a secondary exercise when they go to gyms or other basic sports clubs. More and extra gyms in China now have coaches specialized in boxing.

Despite a good dynamic lately, boxing in China has not but developed well on the professional facet. The boxing profession began flourishing only in 2004 when the athlete Zou Shiming gained a gold medal at the Athens Olympic Games.

Thus, extra skilled and specialized boxing golf equipment are nonetheless within the minority. There are nonetheless very well-known chains in China such as Golden Gloves, a real institution for all boxers in Shanghai.

[Source: Smart Shanghai – Golden Gloves, boxing in China]Less practiced martial arts in China
Wrestling, Judo, and Karate are also combated sports practiced in China however are at present smaller markets. Karate comes directly from Japan and is extra frequent for children to learn at a very young age in specialized institutions.

Judo was brought to China in 1979, which may be very recent in the history of martial arts in China. Even if Chinese folks follow less Judo than Taekwondo or Boxing, China competes in Judo on an international stage. This 12 months, in May, Hohhot, the capital city of North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, even hosted the grand prize of the International Judo Federation (IJF) which served as a qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

However, Judo may be very profitable in Hong Kong. Many Judo TV reveals and films are very trendy, just like the very well-known Sanshiro Sugata. Judo is even increasingly more practiced by young Hong Kong ladies.

[Judo movie Sugata Shanshiro – Martial arts in China]Martial arts in China, a double market: Professionals and amateurs
The professional market: champions and martial arts competitions in China
The professional aspect of martial arts in China has taken fairly a lengthy time to develop because of the Chinese philosophy of sport, which was to train your thoughts and hold a good stability between body and mind. As its name suggests, martial arts have been therefore seen as an art and never as a competitive sport.

However, China’s popularity because the birthplace of martial arts makes it the proper country to host competitions and champions from all over the world.

Since 2015, China has had its own martial arts championship called the ONE Championship. Specialized in Mixed Martial arts, MMA in China, the group is often in comparability with the UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship. Interest in martial arts competitions in China is growing, especially amongst youthful targets. According to One Championship statistics, 80% of their audience is millennials and 70% are males.

Today ONE Championship holds a minimum of one martial arts competition in China each month, and their online content material has been seen 4 billion instances in 2018, which reveals a real craze for Martial arts in China.

As the martial arts market in China is booming, foreign traders are also attracted by this dynamic. Thus UFC organized its first martial arts competition in China in 2017 in Shanghai. They announced that they wanted to speculate extra out there with plans for a $13 million coaching middle.

Today, martial arts and MMA competitions are held very regularly in China and are very successful, particularly on TV. This is the case of Kunlun Fight (昆仑决) which is a Chinese boxing promotion developed by Kunsun Media.

As for martial arts champions, China has increasingly more international champions in all categories. The category with the biggest improve within the variety of champions is the MMA, with about 200 MMA professional gamers in 2018 in China. This is due specifically to the elevated salaries in this career, on common around one hundred,000 RMB per match.

These champions are becoming real influencers in China, adopted by 1000’s of individuals and thus attracting traders (brands and media) from all round the world.

Here is a list of a number of the best martial arts champions in China right now, all classes mixed:

* 邹市明 Zou ShiMing is maybe China’s most profitable boxer of all time. He received three consecutive Olympic medals as properly as three World Amateur Boxing Championships gold medals and has even been employed last 12 months as a sports activities trainer by East China Normal University.

* 徐晓东 Xu Xiaodong is a reasonably controversial figure in China however followed by greater than 350,000 followers on Weibo (his account has lately been blocked as defined later within the article), he is a representative determine of MMA in China.

* 郑淑寅Zheng Shuyin is a 25-year-old champion of Taekwondo in China, recognized for her international performances and lately for her controversial defeat at the May 2019 World Taekwondo Championships the place the younger woman burst into tears.

* 张维力 Zhang Weili is a 29-year-old Chinese martial artist. She is the official Kunlun Fight strawweight champion and presently participates in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. She is a model of energy and knowledge for all women in martial arts in China.

* 方便 Fang Bian is a 35-year-old Chinese kickboxing champion, Sanshou, recognized to be top-of-the-line kickboxing professionals in China. He enjoys a robust reputation amongst sports followers in China and recognition amongst professionals.

* 张立鹏 Zhang Lipeng is a Pro MMA Fighter of Inner Mongolia in China and the #2nd ranked Pro Mens Welterweight in China. He just lately participated within the Kunlun Fight.

* 宋亚东, Song Yadong, is a 21-year-old Chinese combined martial artist who races as a rooster weight for the last word combating championship.

* 熊朝忠Xiong Chaozhong is a 36-year-old Chinese boxer, recognized to have been the first Chinese to win a boxing championship title, having held the WBC minimumweight title from 2012 to 2014.

The novice market: education and gyms in China
As for the novice market, the Chinese are most likely to follow martial arts in multipurpose gyms in China. These common sports activities services are extra well-liked than in martial arts golf equipment. They due to this fact typically supply personal tutoring for martial arts in China with specialised coaches but are not strictly speaking martial arts clubs.

The fitness and gymnasiums market in China is due to this fact booming.

In 2001 there have been barely 500 choices for gyms in China, and in 2018 the number is over 37,000.

Moreover, the Chinese authorities has recently unveiled plans to spend round 225 billion USD by 2020 on health and gyms in China, as a aim to create more healthy habits across the country.

According to a report from the China Business Research Academy, health club memberships reached 6.6 million in 2016, in comparison with round 3 million in 2008.

MMA versus conventional Kung Fu: what’s the future of martial arts in China?
Different philosophies
While conventional martial arts and wellness strategies are actively practiced in China, global tendencies favored by many youthful persons are beginning to change the market dynamic.

The excellent instance of that is the battle between MMA (mixed martial arts) and Kung Fu.

In current years, martial arts athletes in China have divided into two classes:

Those who advocate Chinese martial arts, called Kung Fu or Wushu, and people who need more modernity, particularly inspired by practices from overseas.

These two arts are very different. Kung Fu has its origins in Buddhism and spirituality. It is seen as a state of mind, and a few practitioners even declare to acquire mystical powers by training. As for MMA in China, it’s a preventing sport that combines several disciplines corresponding to boxing, wrestling, judo, or jiu-jitsu.

Today, MMA in China is a huge success. We estimate that there are 90 million Mixed Martial Arts Students and round 15,000 MMA Training Institutions in China.

MMA is also referred to as freight and this is likely certainly one of the explanation why it’s seen as contradictory to traditional Kung Fu, which has far more structured rules.

However, in 2015, Shanxi Science and Technology Publishing House published the “Comprehensive Fighting Movement of the World,” the first complete book on MMA in China, itemizing the foundations and technical explanations of this preventing system to level out how severe and strict this sport can be. Along the identical line, the General Administration of Sports in China recently announced a change within the administrative body liable for all MMA events and a plan to host MMA training applications for Chinese MMA judges and coaches in late 2018.

These efforts demonstrate the General Administration’s objective to better handle the market and to establish firm trade standards. The Chinese government is leading the way in the direction of a more regulated MMA market with increased business worth and opportunities.

The video that divided the world of martial arts in China
A perfect example of this market shift in the direction of extra modern and international martial arts is the battle between MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong and Tai Chi master Wei Lei that took place in May 2017.

Annoyed by the words of the famous Chinese grasp claiming to have the power to control invisible drive fields, Xu Xiaodong determined to show China that the MMA might be simply as powerful as the famous Tai Chi. As a result, the video turned viral in a number of hours in China. We can see the Tai Chi master losing in a quantity of seconds and abandoning the battle.

[Source: Youku – MMA versus Tai Chi in China]The constructive comments have been quickly overwhelmed by thousands of negative feedback accusing Xu Xiaodong of devaluing Chinese tradition. The MMA champion tried to elucidate his ardour for conventional Chinese martial arts and expressed that he only wanted to restore the status of MMA in China. Despite every little thing, the Chinese government thought of these 20 seconds to battle an insult to Chinese traditional tradition and took legal motion in opposition to Xu Xiaodong. Xu Xiaodong is now a controversial determine in China.

Thus, while the federal government tends to see this new period of contemporary martial arts as harmful to Chinese delicate power, not all sportsmen in China take a adverse view of it.

According to a Shanghai boxing and MMA practitioner, Chen Yuan Kai, modern martial arts usually are not contradictory with the tradition of traditional Chinese martial arts, we are able to still find some widespread features:

> “Bruce Lee is even the one who invented the idea of MMA. He advocated that we should always not only concentrate on a mode of martial arts but turn into like water, a component that adapts to all conditions, formless and shapeless. He has not only spread China’s values to the world, but he’s precisely a bridge between these two martial arts cultures.”

In any case, these new practices open up new opportunities for sports activities manufacturers wishing to enter the Chinese market or to seize new markets. The willingness of Chinese folks to guide more healthy lives could be met by this revival of China’s traditional view of wellness.

Thus, while the visions on martial arts in China are beginning to vary profoundly, the practice of all martial arts, traditional and more modern, remains very high in China.

As a outcome, there are tons of alternatives for improvement by means of tools, specialised golf equipment, and gymnasiums or on the professional aspect by investing in competitions or turning into a sponsor. Foreign sports companies ought to now begin to take a closer look at China’s martial arts market.

Author: Steffi Noël

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