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bowlie's picture
Getting into teaching

My dream would be to own, and run my own dojo. That dream is a long way off seeing as im still at uni, and its not something I can jump into, but I think it might be a good thing to start working towards slowly, starting now. I have very limited teaching experience, helping out with the self defense classes at uni. The problem was that I knew BJJ techniques, not self defense, and it felt irresponsible and unsafe to teach these things without understanding self defence myself so I stopped.

Its still something I would love to do though, I just felt uncomfortable when the instructor asked me to show a technique, and I would teach something like a basic choke or armbar, having no idea if it would actually be effective outside the dojo. I currently do Taekwondo, and I love the art, though I feel it is in a bad way at the moment.

Im thinking the first stage is to get my black belt, and then some teaching experience

Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture


i had a dream at the young age of just 7 of one day running my own Karate Dojo, and i can say dreams do come true. I didnt set up my own club until i was a 3rd Dan, i had the chance of setting up many times before that but just didnt feel ready or confident enough etc.

Like Iain i made sacrifices making a choice to give up my successfull landscaping business to turn to a professional Karate coach. Ive been very lucky to have had and still have the great support of my wonderful Girlfriend, whom knows how much Karate means to me.

It was scary first starting out as i had no followers from my old association, i started from scratch with just 2 members, now 3 years on my own private club has 40 registered members these being all adults apart from 5 children. Its a lot of hard work, the first 2 years being the hardest but if your determined and really want it it will happen.

What i will say is that no matter what art you may end up teaching is that it should always be about the love of the art and upholding a good standard within your art, what it shouldnt be is about making money. As soon as money takes over the standard will drop and the arts finished, i would rather have 5 really good students than say 65 and the standard so so.

Of course its great to make a living out of what you love doing but regarding the Martial Arts it has to be done in the right way to help avoid the so many already mcdojo's that already corrupt the Martial Arts industry.

Kind regards,


John's picture

If I was going to start my own club I would memorize everything under "instructor training" and "business and politic" on the 24fightingchickens site. Rob makes excellent points on the problems that karate clubs have and how one can run a successfull karate club without sacrifincing quality.

Realizing your club is a business and your students are your customers is a good start. 

bowlie's picture

Thats alot of reading, thanks. Im wondering about doing a sports science degree (already doing a differnt degree) as I would love to go into sterngth and conditionign coaching for athletes, and one day own an althete development center. Is this something you think would work well with a martial arts dojo as well, or would it be too much work?

Kokoro's picture

i had a few dojo's its not easy running them profitably. starting from scratch with no students is even harder. people attracted people. i recommend to people starting out to start out in a community center. if gives you a chance to build up a following, and get all the contacts for supplies as well as your paper work and teaching curriculum with out the over head.

you only can get so much income through students, so you may need additional income from tournaments and seminars

at least thats my feeling on it

bowlie's picture

Ok I have been thinking about this some more and I think I will try and set up a club teaching in a community center to get used to it and see how it goes. thanks

Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture

Look into your National Sport programs and coaching development for recognised olympic sports. You should be able to find a coaches association that can help you develop proper coaching theory and communication methods. 

Then teach what you love. Teach the thing that hooked you in the first place, as long as you clearly define it. I think Iain mentioned this in his podcast and article of "the martial map". Don't teach sports as fighting, or self-defence as art. Look at what you really know, and teach from experience. There is nothing wrong with teaching an art that involves combat techniques for no other purpose except to discover what you can do with them and find out about your own limits, such as BJJ for fun slow rolling only. Just define it up from, and don't mislead anyone with your sales pitch. 

Students don't need to know self-defence and fighting techniques, unless that is all you have to sell. They walk through your door not knowing what they are looking for -it is up to you not to mislead them. Don't sell snake oil.

I opened a Karate club as a Nidan. I opened a Jiu-Jitsu club as a White Belt. It works either way. Be honest. I didn't wear my Black belt to teach BJJ, I used my white one. 

Have fun, and good for you to take the plunge. 

P.S. - I really hope your not doing this for fame or money..... lol 

bowlie's picture

Andrew Carr-Locke wrote:
P.S. - I really hope your not doing this for fame or money..... lol

Who sets up a gym for money? im gunna be broke for the first 5 years, then im gunna either go under or be slightly less broke :p im not very money oriented, even now. Couldnt care less about money if im having fun. The Taekwondo I would teach would be ITF, not the olympic version, do you still think its worth it? coaches assotiation sounds useful though. As for being honest, I sure plan to. I hope I have the integrity to stay that way under pressure.