So You Want to Open a Martial Arts School?

So You Want to Open a Martial Arts School?

By Joey De Los Reyes


Recently my friend Roy Wang from Kick of Legend, interviewed me on building a successful martial arts school. When it went live I got quite a few inquiries on how to open up a martial arts school.  You can read the post here:

So I will share with you a few key ideas.

Passion and Why?

Opening up any business has its challenges, especially a martial arts school.  And trust me, you are going to have some sleepless nights and a lot of growing pains. The only thing that may get you through those hard times is your PASSION.  For me, I love sharing all aspects of the martial arts with people.  And there are TONS of benefits from studying martial arts that I want everyone to experience.  What is the PASSION that will motivate you when the chips are down?

The Why is also very important.  If you do not know Why you are doing this, again you might find yourself lacking the stamina and motivation to go through with this project.  Here is a great article on the Why, from my good friend Gaetan Boutin of Strong Athlete:  Trust me when I say this: your PASSION and your Why will be tested.


Ok, PASSION is one thing, but you NEED skills.  A lot of them.  You might be great at punching people and choking them out, and you are passionate about all that cool stuff, but that won’t help your business.  Do you know how to negotiate a lease? How to structure your schedule? Keep the books? Marketing? Blogging?  One good book to read that will teach you the importance of skill development is The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber.

In the beginning I did a lot of stuff by myself.  All the marketing, article writing, branding, teaching, instructor development, fighter training, schedule arrange.  Now I have other people doing that for me.  But I’m so glad that I acquired some of those skills.  Was I good at them?  I was so-so; average.

But I can tell you this.  When it came to hiring someone to do them, I knew what to look for and what I was hiring.  I also know that in a crunch, I could step in and fill those roles.

Finally if you are not good at it, or have no idea what you’re doing, then do yourself a favor: hire someone.  This may mean bartering for their services, getting a co-op student or intern, or biting the bullet and forking over some cash.

Be Prepared to Work

Pretty obvious right?  Wrong.  Most people have amazing visions of working half days, going home and having your staff run everything, with all those students and cash walking through the door.  It can happen…but be prepared to work for it. People do not understand the work that a school owner goes through.  Teaching is what we like to do, and it’s the fun part.  But it doesn’t end there.  There is ALL the paperwork.  The skills you have to learn, especially to be a LEADER.  Even when you’re not at the dojo, you are still working.  Besides that paperwork there is your own education.  If you are complacent, never learning and innovating, your students will leave you.  You will fall behind.  Running any business means that you always have to keep your sword sharp.

martial arts school

So that’s it in a nutshell.  Three easy things one must have to open up a martial arts school: Passion, Skills and Hard Work Ethic.  Are you ready?  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

Joey de Los Reyes

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