Martial Arts Instructor Career

Are you an expert in one or more forms of martial arts? With a good communication skill, you can start a career in martial arts instruction. What are the usual requirements to teach karate, Kung Fu, judo, or Tae Kwon Do?

What is the best way to break into the field? Our guide can tell you the basics.

Martial arts is a form of self defense, but it is also often practiced to develop coordination, confidence and to cultivate the mental and spiritual aspects of the performer. Have you been practicing karate, Kung Fu, judo, or Tae Kwon Do for a long time and it is your dream to teach the discipline to others? You can become a martial arts instructor. You don’t have to have a high educational attainment to teach the discipline. Years of practice is the usual qualification. A black belt might be required to teach in established schools.

But while skills and solid foundation on the arts are the basic requirements for a teaching career, they are not the only requirements to become a good teacher. One must also have good communication skills and confidence to be able to deliver the lesson and execute kicking and blocking techniques to a class. To augment your qualifications, you can enrol and get certification in physical education teaching. You can also get certifications from recognised martial arts associations like the American Taekwondo Association.

To gain experience in teaching, you can apply as martial arts instructor in self-defense schools, health clubs, gyms, recreation centers, and community centers. Usually, you’d be employed as a part-time teacher and get paid by the hour. This is the best way to continue to develop your craft for a pay. Another advantage of starting as a teacher in an established institution is you can use your experience to support an independent practice later. And you don’t get to rent or lease a space to perform classes. Later, if you have established your name as “master” not only in the field of martial arts, but also in teaching, you can open your own studio.

If you want to start a private practice and you want to get your services known, you can offer free or “discounted” introductory lessons. Or give free demonstrations in schools where most of your students may come from. When marketing your services, remember that usually they’d be attracted more by your ability to relate to them rather than by your awards and trophies. What you know would not matter if you cannot impart your skills and knowledge. Also, a large part of becoming a successful martial arts instructor is to enjoy what you are doing and help your student feel the same. This, while emphasizing that to be skilled in the arts, patience, perseverance and years of practice are needed.


  • Ram Shah said on April 16, 2009
    Hello, I am writing on behalf of my brother. He is very good in martial art and I can see he has a future to become a martial art teacher. He is currently in his black belt. Can you please suggest what he has to do further to improve his skill even better and become a martial art teacher and pursue as a career? Thank you. Best regards, Laxman
  • Jason S. Rivers said on April 12, 2010
    Dear Reader: I have practiced Martial Arts since the age of five. I will tell you that the article written here is very accurate. One of the biggest issues and one that cannot be controlled is age. The reason this is important is because one is less likely to take a 20 year old "Master" much less seriously than say a 50 year old Master. It is most important to develop good skills, while this is not necessary to teach, again, learning form a person that cannot do what he or she is teaching is much less effective. The best way to do this would be to study the arts and truly develop a Mastership. Also, very important to be able to teach a stand up art ie. Tae-Kwon Do, Goju Ryu, Hapkido as well as a ground fighting art ie. Judo, Ju-jitsu and the reason is that due to the popularity of MMA even the inexperienced know that to be effective one must know both. A good idea for your brother, would be to market himself by himself, word of mouth is the best form of marketing. He too could start by teaching private lessons, print business cards and again market market market. Hope this helps, Jason
  • amber g. said on May 6, 2010
    hello my name is amber i am 15 years old. i work at master sangs tnt and i'm in the leadership program. lately my boss has been very hard on me. and i've been working with him for four or five years. he just makes me stand at the door doing nothing, i want to help the other kids because i really enjoy it and i talked to him about that but he said ok! and still didn't let me. i'm loosing confidence every day and i feel like quitting but i dont want to leave because the other instructors are like a team to me. and its stressing me out greatly so i wanted some advice no one else to help me and i also want advice on how to keep my training up to be an instructor because i dont feel like giving up easily.
  • Ashley g. said on July 28, 2010
    Hey amber i know i got to master sang tnt too but they dont make me do that they actually help me a lot and sometime i hold target and stuff to get the hang of teaching but amber dont quite just keep going alright.
  • tfadli said on September 8, 2010
    i'm 2nd degree black belt i've been practicing sine 1990 and i came to the us in 2000 and i've been trying lately to change my career to become an aikido instructor but i need i guess a license to teach which i've been looking online for a way to get it, but in vain. so if you know anyway to get it i would really appreciate it . thanks
  • richard said on August 11, 2011
    hi, i would like to know how to be a martial arts instructor. i have taken judo as a kid an also when older took kyokushin karate,with alain bonnamie, school of andre gilbert. i know there style, some army hand combat, an remember some judo. how do i go about being a teacher, an long can it take. thank you
  • Akhilesh C. Shrivastava said on September 5, 2011
    Sir, I have been practicing Karate ( Shito-Reo style)since last 25 years.Now i want to be a martial Art Instructor.and adopt this as a full time career option.Please guide me how can i start my studio/academy in large scale to spread the awareness in respect of self defense, to develop coordination, and confidence among the society. Thanks Akhilesh
  • Salim said on September 6, 2011
    To All above, Am very happy to read all your views, I like martial arts training but I had a broken leg before but on and off I hurt my leg, my three boys they train taekwondo and they like me to work with them but I keep on hurt them on shadow sparring I have to wear trainers all the time to balance my disable leg. what shall I do to train without trainers ?
  • sanjeev's self defence karate india said on March 27, 2012
    Learn Karate for Self Defense. Learning Karate is good for children, old, women and men. It teaches us self defense and along with that it creates a lot of self-confidence in a person. It is like a boon for women. In today’s world a women walks shoulder to shoulder with a man, she is on the way towards development, still it is a very shameful thing that today also she is subject to eve teasing and rape. Karate is a very powerful weapon for a woman. That is why even student are being given its knowledge in schools. It requires practice for about thirty to forty five minutes per day to help you master this arty. So every person should learn karate for one’s own self defense.
  • Luis Pagan said on October 21, 2012
    Hello, I have been practicing different martial arts since I was 9, right now Im 36 and still practicing, I just started to practice capoeira. I had practice tae know do /aikido/wing chun and I have mastered all of these. Right now it is my desire to open a martial arts school where I can , I teach what I have learn, but I dont have any certification available to be an instructor, but I have the passion and the experience teaching martial arts to others. How can I obtain an instructor certification?
  • Tim Stewart said on January 3, 2014
    I am 56 and retired. After 43 year of training I hold a 5th degree Black Belt under Soke Fred Peterson and an 8th level Black Belt under Soke Robert Murphy. I am trying to augment my pension by teaching private classes. My biggest problem is marketing. I'm offering private classes in a limited term self defense class or an open ended karate program, but I am just not reaching any potential clients. I've taken ads out on craigslist, but the results are abysmal. What low cost marketing methods would you suggest?


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