How to Become a Martial Arts Instructor

Mastering, practicing and subsequently teaching all aspects of a particular martial art (Kung Fu, judo, karate, kendo etc.) – the role of a martial arts instructor is to enable others’ understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of the martial art in question. From bestowing lessons upon the arts founding philosophies to teaching the physical skills needed to excel, they prioritize discipline alongside safety.

A role which is more or less exclusively reserved for those who are themselves advanced students in their martial art of preference, UK law also requires that would-be instructors undertake a sports coaching qualification that is accredited by the national governing body relevant to the particular art. Further personal skills and interests required to take on this occupation include:

  • A sound knowledge of physiology
  • Excellent communication skills
  • The ability to demonstrate previously vocalised skills and techniques
  • Patience/perseverance
  • Proven organisational skills
  • A commitment to health and safety
  • Enthusiasm and the ability to inspire and motivate students

The Work Itself

Far more than standing before a room of aspiring robed warriors and reeling off some insane attacks and counters for their entertainment, the role of a martial arts instructor incorporates all kinds of varying tasks and concerns. Depending on whether or not an instructor is employed through a larger gym or school; or they are self-employed, there may be some difference in their day-to-day working obligations. Some typical duties an instructor may expect to encounter on the job in a typical week and regardless of the art they practice- include:

  • Preparing lesson plans
  • Demonstrating warm ups, skills and physical conditioning
  • Work to develop students’ individual training programmes
  • The development of their own skills
  • Observe and assess students
  • Take responsibility for the health and safety of students
  • Promote and market your classes


The amount of money a martial arts instructor can expect to make in a year is a very hard figure to pin down. The majority of instructors are self-employed as instructors and work only on a part-time basis. Income varies depending on both the number of students under your wing and (perhaps interchangeably) the reputation of an instructor.

Charging per lesson, typical rates per student could be anywhere between £5 and £15. Alternatively, those instructors employed through gyms or health centres are likely to be paid a set rate per class taken- a ballpark figure being £30 per session.

Gaining Work as a Martial Arts Instructor

As previously mentioned, those wishing to work as martial arts instructors need, primarily, two things: a proven and tested advanced ability in their art and a coaching qualification recognised by said areas own National Governing Body (NGB). Further information on relevant coaching qualification may be found via the Sport England website.

  • Age at least 18-years-old
  • An instructor-level membership to the relevant NGB
  • A minimum grade approved by the NGB
  • A weighty recommendation from a relevant association

Furthermore it is likely that some NGBs, though not all, will expect a prospective instructor to have held an assistance position for an extended period- typically six months. For more specific information on the requirements needed to make the leap from student to instructor- the best source would be your areas NGB.


Once a qualified coach, individuals require a First Aid award procured from a source approved by their NGB. On top of this, they also need to acquire professional indemnity insurance.

Essentially, the margin for progression as an instructor can and will only grow with time, experience and the further honing of existing skills. Depending on the NGB in question, certain qualifications are available to instructors wishing to beef up their credentials. Among these include the BTEC Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Martial Arts Instruction and Club Coaching (a widely accepted qualification which provides the national standard for Child Protection, Health & Safety). For a full list of personal development-focused short courses and workshops visit the Sports Coach UK website.