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Become a Martial Arts Instructor

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From a simplified standpoint, becoming a martial arts instructor is a four-step process. These steps involve becoming an expert martial artist, developing teaching skills, finding a job, and developing business skills related to starting and growing a martial arts school.
Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: Several years

Here's How:

  1. Become An Expert Martial Artist: This is the easiest part to write about and the hardest part to actually do. Becoming an expert in a martial arts discipline takes years of study and hard work. Let’s face it, the gold standard is a black belt, and without one you probably shouldn’t be instructing (though non-black belts can gain valuable teaching experience from helping out at their school). So if you want to be a martial arts instructor, simply sign up at a martial arts school and keep trucking until you achieve expert status.

  2. Develop Teaching Skills: The achievement of an educational degree isn't required to become an instructor. Still, teaching is a discipline unto itself. Being an expert martial artist doesn’t mean you’re a good teacher.

    The majority of your teaching skills will be gained from modeling past instructors. Further, martial arts schools tend to ask their higher belts to teach their lower belts; take advantage of this to help bolster your teaching skills. Finally, you can also gain valuable experience in martial arts instruction by way of teaching at community centers and schools with little or no money down.

  3. Find a Job: Even if you want to open up your own martial arts school someday, you’ll find that getting a job as a martial arts instructor somewhere else is almost a prerequisite. After all, when a potential customer comes in to speak with you about enrolling you’ll want to be able to cite places you’ve taught in the past.

    Finding a martial arts job is similar to finding any job. You could try to make the move at the school you trained at (promotion), speak with community centers and schools, or go the classifieds and internet route.

  4. Develop Business Skills: When you instruct at someone else's school, most of the business tasks will be handled by the owner. But if you want to own your own school, the first step is to have the funds.

    Beyond that, speak with a successful instructor—perhaps the one you learned martial arts from— before venturing out on your own. Ask them how they market, who collects their funds, and what the most important aspect of building a school is. They’re liable to say that it has little to do with credentials and everything to do with marketing. Also read up on the topic.

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