How to Make a Living Teaching Martial Arts

Martial arts is an incredibly fulfilling sport and hobby, but martial artists have to be smart to make a living out of it. The best thing about martial arts is that there are various ways to become a professional instructor and get paid.

However, here is a dose of reality: Making a living teaching the martial arts is hard as hell. There is a lot you have to learn in order to be successful. Not only do you have to be a decent martial artists, you also have to be good at instructing, business, scheduling, marketing, finances, and more.

Are you up to it?

Here are the ways to make a living as a martial arts teacher.

Work at an Established School

You can work as a paid instructor at an existing martial art academy and manage several classes. Working in other academies will give you a footing and help you establish your own flair.


To find a job at one of these existing schools, you can visit martial art academies around your area to apply for a junior instructor position. Most schools will require potential instructors to have a black belt in their preferred style and prior experience.

During the interview, you’ll be required to showcase your skill and express your interest and desire to become a martial art sensei. You’ll have to give all your best to convince your employer why you should be hired. You can begin at low rank and progress into a higher rank (and often better paid) position. Ensure that your training can be used by your student to know how to become a teacher after graduations.

Your responsibilities will include preparing lessons, demonstrating techniques, assessing progress and ensuring students’ safety. As you gain more skills, you can be assigned specialty programs for highly-skilled students.

You can also look for daycare, or private and public schools and ask if you can teach martial arts to their kids. Ask the head of the school if they have any students that are interested in learning martial art as an activity that school offers and teach at that school as an instructor.

The working hours vary between academies, but you can expect morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Wages are typically billed on an hourly basis and the teacher’s amount of training.

In the USA the website Indeed estimates the average hourly pay for a martial art instructor at $17.53. The pay will also depend on where you are located. Cities like Brooklyn, San Jose, Baltimore and Indianapolis have hourly rates above $20.

While the pay is higher in larger cities like San Francisco, getting a job is tough, as is sustaining yourself on instructor salaries. The pay is lesser in smaller countries, but it is self-sustainable.

Run Your Own Martial Art School

If you would instead work for yourself, you can turn your passion for martial arts into a business. Keep in mind it is quite an expensive venture to startup, and the studio may not be profitable for the first few years if you struggle with the basics of opening a business.

You can begin by running your programs in a local fitness facility or community center. You can even approach a dance academy or gym to use their facilities for a fee, and later look for another location to move to once you build a sizable customer base.

You can even operate your martial art school at your home, such as out of your garage or backyard. You don’t always have to pay rent to start teaching martial arts; if you have a house with a garage or even a barn, and the space is not that much occupied, you can convert it to your school where you can teach martial arts. However, you’ll have to ensure that you’re complying with the local government rules that regulate business installed in residential homes, if there I any. That said generally speaking having a martial art school at your home will save you expenses you would have otherwise incurred if you had rented a structure owned by someone else.


Keep in mind that a martial art school is just like any other business. This means that you have to do the non-glamorous bits of running a company, like crafting business plans, marketing, accounting and bookkeeping.

In the quest to save money, some martial art entrepreneurs hire unqualified staff. Keep in mind that successful studios are built on a good reputation, and you should only employ trained and diligent instructors.
It would help if you also explored different niche programs to attract a wide range of customers. Studios will often have classes for kids, teenagers, adults and advanced students. You can run standard courses like Taekwondo as well as specialized programs like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Your school’s location will also influence the success of the venture. High-traffic areas are profitable, but a huge chunk of the profits will go to the rent. It is, however, easier to attract more students if you are in an accessible location.


Since a martial school is a business, you will have to fulfill the local and state regulations and get a license. The process is more straightforward with the services of a lawyer.

There are many other aspects involved in running your own martial art school, and we highly recommend you check out the business model described in the course Small Dojo, Big Profits. This book and coursework is a crash course in how to start a profitable martial art school.

Factors of Success in Starting Your Own Martial Art School

If you’re planning on making a living teaching martial arts in your own school, there are a few things you have to consider before quitting your day job and opening up for business. Here is some general advice we can offer.

You should try to open a martial art school in a favorable location. It is advisable to find a place with more foot-traffic traffic of people or in a growing area. Look for your target audience and specialize, for example, in something like teaching children or focus on offering defense classes to adults. By doing this you start growing roots, and with time you will become known for this niche you focus on.

You should also ensure that you have bought all pieces of equipment required for operating a martial art school. The school should also be in a decent building to enhance appearance and credibility. If you don’t have a great deal of money to invest into startup expenses then don’t be over-ambitious and rack up big debts. You can always start small and grow as time goes by.


To own a school, you’ll need to have some basics understanding of doing business such as; marketing, accounting, office procedure and how to get more clients. Also remember, the more clients will be channeling to your school, the more accountable and responsible you have to be to ensure that you don’t lose control of your martial art school.

Here are seven important factors to consider:

  1. Be damn good at marketing.
    This is one of the most important aspects if you truly want to make money teaching the martial arts. Read up on the subject. Look at all the articles on this site. Perhaps even consider joining some martial arts marketing associations, reading some books, networking, and more. Just get good at it, fast!
  2. Become a closer.
    If you have a ton of response from your marketing efforts and can’t close any of them, you’ve got BIG problems. Spend considerable time learning how to persuade people to sign up. Read books and blogs. Go to seminars. Listen to CD’s. Find someone to train you. Just get it done!
  3. Master money.
    You not only have to figure out what to charge but also how to track expenses, income, and profit. If you can’t balance your checkbook or save in your personal life, then you have no business starting a business. Get help if necessary and hire an accountant. Educate yourself to no end on this subject.
  4. Promote like no tomorrow.
    I don’t know of any martial arts school owners who opened their doors and had more people than they knew what to do with. Work towards becoming a local expert and building your credibility. Give back to your community and always be sure to let the press know about it.
  5. Make things simple.
    When you sign up new students or need to upgrade existing ones, make it so simple a child could do it. Take a look at your sign up process. Is it too complicated? Do you ask too much information? How can you simplify things and make it easier for people to sign up? Don’t get in your own way when it comes to this process. Cut more than Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon until you have made it flawless.
  6. Be trustworthy.
    Treat people fairly and don’t be a schmuck. When you’re wrong, admit it. Always be willing to make a situation right when necessary. Don’t have hidden fees, say one thing and do another, or be dishonest. Without trust, you’ll have no business.
  7. Follow trends.
    It is important to always be offering classes that people are going to have an interest in. For example, the ninja fad is largely over but things like how to learn HEMA is on the rise. Keep tabs on trends in the martial arts and try to offer something that is relevant to the current market.

A lot of small businesses run in private residences to avoid the overhead costs of leasing shops. You can build a separate structure or transform your garage into a studio. You may, however, need to get permits and licenses, depending on where you live. This option seems to especially suit people who live in rural regions.

Teaching physical activities comes with potential injury risks for your students. You will need legal counsel to spare your personal assets in case you get sued. Even if you secure a location at a fitness center or YMCA, protect yourself with liability insurance.

Teach Private Lessons

This is another option if you don’t have enough resources to start your own martial art school. You can market your skills either on online platforms, doing demos of your talent on the streets, market your talent through posters, making referrals etc. until you get some manageable clients that are asking for private lessons.

You can charge depending on the client’s location and the amount of time you’ll spend training the client. Remember, the client is the king in these arrangements, and therefore you have to be flexible with your client’s time and make things convenient for them. People do private classes and seminars because they often cannot make the time in their daily lives for regular class schedules.

Many martial arts teachers can earn a lot of money teaching private lesson because most of the individual clients paying more, especially if they are happy with your services. As an instructor it is great deal more profitable when you get new private clients, but again you can’t forget the existing clients who think of you as an expert so don’t abandon daily classes if you have an existing school.

Running private lessons can be an excellent alternative to the overhead costs of having a studio. You can customize your package and rates, although it is best to survey your competitors’ offerings, too.


To start with private classes, much like with running a school you’ll need to buy all the necessary equipment although you wont’ need as much of it, and you’ll also need to have a vehicle to move from client to client locations. The major hurdle that private instructors face is advertisement. You want to reach as many customers as possible, and make some of them trust you enough to pay for your lessons.


One effective advertising strategy is volunteering your services to community centers or charging a low fee. Once clients start contacting you, understand their expectations and tailor your program to suit their needs.
Draft a course of instruction to give to your students so they know what they are going to learn. Clear communication is necessary if you don’t want to end up with dissatisfied trainees.


Keep the instruction evolving to ensure your students are engaged. A one-on-one situation is less-stimulating than a class, and you must introduce diversity to prevent boredom. You will also need to create a reward system to recognize a student’s progress.


A lot of schools have incorporated martial arts into their physical education programs. You can contact private and public schools near you, and bring your equipment to their gym facilities. Teaching in schools is an excellent way of ensuring you have gigs throughout the entire school year.

Lastly you can sign up for a sponsorship program in your location or country that you know does charity training programs. You can get hired by such a program to train the students covered by such plan. You can also volunteer for free content as a way of marketing yourself; you may not be paid, but you’ll be known for your services and your kind heart. You get to build contact with more people and also understand your niche. You can volunteer maybe 1-2 hours of your time, and this can land your black belt, master or sifu certification into one of the best paying martial art organization.

Teach Your Martial Art Classes Online

If you are wondering how to make a living teaching martial arts online, you will be glad to know that there are numerous platforms and applications you can use. Teaching martial arts without face-to-face contact may seem impossible, but online platforms and technologies have made it more than possible. To make this venture successful, however, you will need to be very creative.

There is a growing number of different sensei that teaches online to students all over the globe. So you too can use an online platform to teach martial art and be able to make money. You can do this by launching an online martial art course, giving private lessons, grading exams, video conferencing, etc.


Grading and recognizing progress is a significant hurdle here though, but one you need to address because it will ensure your student gets to graduate from one level to another, for example, from a student to a master or sifu. All you have to ensure is that your online content is satisfactory to the client. Ensure you have a user-friendly website that is easy for your clients to interact with. To generate more client traffic, you can give discounts and coupons as a way of promoting your martial art using platforms like Groupon or Airbnb Experiences.


To start, identify the platform of your choice you want to use to teach your classes through. YouTube is a popular avenue for trainers, thanks to its vast global audience. However, it will take a long time for you to attract the audience size needed to accrue advertising revenue from YouTube. You can sell your courses on platforms like Udemy, but you will only take home a chunk of your sales.


The best approach seems to be creating your own website, through which you can interact with your clients and provide useful information. Be active on social media sites as well to boost the popularity of your courses. The trick with online coaching is consistency. Posting regularly keeps your customers engaged, and provides them with a wealth of information that they can access. You can also create group challenges for your students to encourage healthy competition.

If you want to know how to become a teacher of martial art, then you have to go through martial art training and grasp all the technique of specific martial art skill.

Conclusion


If you want to sustain yourself as a martial artist in terms of it being your profession, the above options will guide you on how to make a living teaching martial arts. You can make decent money as an instructor, but keep in mind that the scene in large cities like New York is very competitive. You can establish your own school, or run programs in community centers, gyms and YMCAs. Other ventures include MMA fighting, stunt performance and online training.

In conclusion, as much as martial art is considered a hobby, one can reap great profits from it if the business is planned correctly. To be an expert instructor teaching martial art, you have to be a straight forward person to gain people’s respect. Being responsible is like building a brand reputation; you can take long to earn it but lose it with a fewer mistake. Martial art profession is like any other business which struggles to keep its doors open and also try to increase its profits. Therefore, you have to be very keen and cautious about it.

Again we recommend checking out the curriculum offered by the Small Dojo, Big Profits program. It is a very excellent program that has a time-tested and proven business model for how to start your own school and grow it.

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