This is due to many factors, such as location, owner’s business and management skills, and the quality of instruction, but one factor is how different the school’s martial art is from the competitors and how different the students themselves feel. If you watch new students, they wear their uniform to restaurants to eat after class, they wear all kind of identifying clothes or patches, and they speak about their martial art as if it was something mystical. Their martial art allows them to be different and to feel different. However, after awhile, this feeling of being different wears off and is either replaced by other feelings that keep the students in training or they move on to try something different.
For a martial art school to thrive, it must keep its students feeling different and special. Some do this by having extravagantly decorated uniforms that make them stand out from other martial arts, or by requiring students to become experts in some obscure techniques or beliefs. However, the best way to make students feel different is to require them to become experts in all aspects of a traditional martial art.
Many martial arts today stress performance of many intricate techniques. This fast-paced type of training helps keep the attention of students and helps keep them interested in the art, but, at some point, there are no more new techniques to teach. At some point, the students see that, although they know many techniques, they are masters of none. When this happens, they lose interest and move on to the next “in” sport or training régime.