It seems to me that it is taken for granted that karate clubs are nowadays coming up against stiffer competition than before. An instructor recently spoke in a class about how membership was down because karate was being squeezed on one end of the spectrum by things like tai chi, and on the other end of the spectrum by MMA. As well as that there are more martial arts in general competing for the same people, for example Judo, BJJ, TKD, and Capoeira.
The university club that I used to train in was once the only martial arts club, and was incredibly busy. Then came Judo, then TKD, and now many other similar clubs. These days the karate club is far smaller both in terms of beginners starting and staying, and also new members coming in with training already. I remember one year having enough black belts join as freshers to form new men's and women's kata teams immediatly, which formed a core for a few years.
I have my own theories on this, but I wanted to ask what people thought. Is there more pressure now than there was before? Have you noticed a difference? Should anything and can anything be done to address this?