I am aware that kick-boxing has never been very popular here in the states but today the popularity has gone down a great deal. There are still millions of people that love to train and get a great workout with kick-boxing or Muay Thai but there are fewer and fewer people that want to watch it on TV or even go to a live event. Popularity among your everyday fight fan is only a small part of the problem.
Today's fighters and wanna be fighters are looking more toward MMA as the go to sport. Although, their approach to fighting sports is all wrong. Most MMA enthusiasts and fighters do not support other fighting sports such as kick-boxing and Muay Thai. They all seem to have the attitude that MMA is "better", it's "tougher", it's in a cage so therefore it's more brutal and "bad ass". Along with the attitude comes a need to shun other fighting sports and look at them as though they are inferior. It's OK to be a hardcore fan or fighter and only support your favorite fight sport, but not when your favorite sport depends on other sports for instruction and growth.
Mixed Martial Arts has come a long way but in one area it still falls very short, striking! It's funny to me how a large majority of "future fighters" take the time to find the right submission instructor and only want to learn from the best but when it comes to striking they are content with either learning from someone who shouldn't be instructing much less training fighters or just hitting the heavy bag and sparring like a bunch of crazed monkeys. I believe there is a reason for this type of thought process and it lies in the history of MMA in the U.S. When MMA was introduced to the masses here in the U.S. it was done to show everyone what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu could do and how it can dominate other styles. Yes MMA has evolved since then but peoples perception of what MMA has not. Talk to friends and friends of friends to see how many of them call BJJ, MMA, many of them do. Listen to them say that BJJ is all you need and striking is not as important. It's a BJJ world now, much like the 80's was a Karate world. A majority of BJJ gyms added 'MMA' to their name and a lot of them didn't care to add a real striking instructor to teach. It's insulting to think that people view striking as simply just a bunch of punches, kicks, elbows and knees. The perception of MMA has been killing the striking arts but that has been changing recently. More gyms are seeking qualified striking instructors for their MMA programs. More students and fighters are understanding that their current striking instructor is just not cutting it and they look elsewhere. So now your asking yourself; if this is true then why is striking slowly dying in the States?
Although more fighters are realizing that a good striking coach is hard to find, most of them still don't support Muay Thai and Kick-boxing events. I know some areas of the U.S. don't have this problem but for the most part it is there and it needs to change. It's sad to hear an MMA fighter say he could care less about the upcoming kick-boxing event or literally bash an event because it is not MMA. Do they not understand that they are slowly lowering the level of striking instruction for future MMA fighters? If someone is practicing Muay Thai or Kick-boxing but cant compete because lack of events, then how can that person grow into a knowledgeable instructor or coach for fighters? Where will MMA fighters turn to learn striking if there are not great instructors to teach? Other parts of the world don't have this problem. Kick-boxing and Muay Thai in Europe are still popular sports and still draw a bigger crowd then MMA for the most part. Japan still has it's events and even Brazil and Mexico have frequent Events.
The fighters are not the only ones to blame, promoters are afraid to slowly build a kick-boxing following because it's just so much easier to sell fights in a cage. The best fights I have seen were hybrid events (MMA and Kick-boxing) in a RING. Better view, more action and you get the best of both worlds in one night. A successful Texas promoter tried to have a mixed event only to sell 1/2 the tickets he normally does simply because it was in a ring. How pathetic are Americans to think that if its not in a cage, it's not going to be good. The worse part of that event was when I asked the promoter where all the hometown MMA gyms were, he said; "they didn't want to buy tickets for a hybrid event and they didn't want to fight in a ring". Wow, fighters and their coaches purposely didn't support an event because there was kick-boxing and it wasn't in a cage. That's the fight society we live in I guess.
Most people think I'm weird for my concerns but I see a pattern. Striking in MMA is still light years away from striking in Muay thai or Kick-boxing. Some people say that striking for MMA doesn't need to be great or that striking for MMA isn't as in depth. I say; then why do MMA fighters work so hard to become black belts in BJJ or the best wrestlers they can be, why cant it be the same for striking? My MMA fighters learn and practice striking to win or at least hold their own against elite level strikers in Muay Thai and Kick-boxing. I turn life long wrestlers into great strikers and my submission instructors turn them into great submission players. We all have our roles and we all know our limitations. My job is to get every fighter on a level of striking that would impress any elite Muay Thai or Kick-boxing champion simply because they know MMA fighters shouldn't be that good at striking.
Support your local Kick-boxing events and fighters. They will be the next instructors for future MMA fighters. Without them, the evolution of MMA will slow down in the next 10 to 20 years in the United States.