While Taekwondo is the most popular martial art in America, it is also the least effective (with the exception of shaolin kempo karate)...
OK, so I know folks will come out of the woodwork with my opening remarks, but it is vital to understand the difference between a sport and a martial art and no, a style cannot be both!
Independent of the style and its ability to be considered a complete fighting system, many schools themselves are really McDojos in disguise. On my side of town, I would most certainly classify Fred Villari
and his chains in this category. Others can be considered of marginal quality but suitable for the soccer mom crowd such as Avon Kempo and Aikido
Anyway, here is why/how martial arts in America is starting its rapid decline into being highly ineffective...plane loads of Koreans came to the U.S. to open martial arts schools. This was because they saw an opportunity to make money. Again the public was lied to in many cases. Many of the so called masters that are now famous here were low ranks in Korea. The term Airplane Promotion was used often to describe the fact that many Koreans left Korea as low ranked black belt only to get off the plane as high ranked masters.Many martial arts schools realized the it was very hard to keep the schools from going broke. To combat this they used the business model used by health clubs. This meant that they began to require contracts.The contracts began to evolve into the black belt contracts seen often today.NOTE: If someone can predict how long it takes to get a Black belt in advance, then you are most certainly attending the wrong schoolMartial arts schools began to lower the minimum age for students to join.NOTE: Some schools will take students as low as 3 to 4 years old under the guise of teaching principles at an early age when reality is more about revenue and structured babysitting.Requirements were lowered because many people would drop out.NOTE: This is especially true with Gracie Jiu-jitsu
9) As the requirements for age and testing were required more belts were added to allow schools to promote more often.NOTE: Taekwondo has almost twice the belt colors of traditional Japanese Jujutsu. They also pile on stripes (up to seven) per belt
10) More belts and more promotions allowed the schools to charge more for testing.
11) Some schools began to have mandatory seminars between testing, which they could charge for.NOTE: Royce Gracie and family are especially notorious for this but are probably running a strong second to Fred Villari
12) Black belt clubs became popular as another marketing method, as did leadership clubs, and competition teams.NOTE: Fred Villari milks the soccer mom's with the leadership stuff
13) Martial arts schools began to start allowing all kinds of uniforms and colors to sell more items.NOTE: Be fearful if you see the instructor with fancy colorful Gi's
These are just some of the problems. Less and less real self-defense is being taught. Now schools push the idea of having your child become a black belt. Such other things as fitness, weight loss, and flexibility have become more important than learning real self-defense...