My biggest peeve about martial arts in Malaysia is that it should start when you're young but parents by large just do not do any research into the what's, how's and why they should let little Johnny do martial arts.
Most times, it's because it's part of the school extra-curricular activities and thus, the kids end up doing it because it's something like music lessons or art; another skill to have. But how does it work?
The answer is that this is how it goes; I,the parent, will send my kid to learn martial arts (and I don't care what it is) from a bored instructor who is only interested in cramming as many students he can into his class. I will boost their self esteem by saying how good they are even though they get their arse handed to them in sparring and even if they can't kick above the tibia. Then, because they contributed to my bank balance - I'll give them a black belt to put on their shelf and their resume
Some of you will read this and think I'm banging on TKD. Well, in a way I am as it is the most popular MA in Malaysia and the most common one taught in schools. But I am definitely not knocking the art itself. I took TKD in University for five years. And actuallly used it to defend myself in my last altercation. My instructor worked security and was also a part-time bouncer. His TKD wasn't pretty but it was effective
The point is that I wish parents would do some research into the combat arts. I have gained so much from them that it kills me when someone comes in and has no clue why they are there. Each art has a history, some ethno-related culture and also a contemporary-localised way of being practiced that makes it clear without saying, that not all arts and instructors are the same.
And if you do that, you will do your kid a favour by introducing them to something that they might seriously enjoy. Also, you become a participant in this process, even if you do not participate. Just that little bit of effort will go a long way to changing the perception of martial arts in this country