How to Start a Martial Arts School

This post is part of a series detailing strategies for starting a Martial Arts School. All pieces within this series can be applied to any type of Martial Art—not just Muay Thai. The “How to Start a Martial Arts School” series will cover everything from finding the perfect space to figuring out which small business software you’ll need to get going. If you have a question or recommended topic for this series, drop me a line.


At some point in you Martial Arts career, you’ll begin to think about opening your own studio. Maybe you’ve always wanted to own a small business, or perhaps your personal Muay Thai practice needs room to expand. Maybe you’re just super passionate about Martial Arts and want to share your knowledge with the community. No matter your reasons, starting a Dojo might be the best option for your finances, personal practice, and spirit.

Opening a Martial Arts school, however, is easier said than done. Though it may be a natural progression for those devoting their lives to the art, there are several factors to consider before pulling it off. This experience will be both rewarding and life-changing, but practitioners should reflect on their ability to start a small business, their community’s potential involvement, and how they’ll fund the venture. Below, I’ve listed a few factors and details to consider before embarking on this journey.


  • Financing—When people open small businesses, they rely on two primary financial sources: personal savings and bank loans. If you have the savings account to fund this venture, you’re in a good place. If you have to rely entirely on bank loans, you may want to push this leap off for a bit longer; you don’t want to drain your savings on a single venture. Additionally, small businesses can take years to make a profit, meaning you’ll likely rely on your savings and loans for living costs. If you’re ready to do that, you’re in the clear to start a Dojo.


  • Business Structure—Think through the type of business you want to run. Will you operate independently, will you become an LLC, or will you form a partnership with another studio? Some business structures have tax and legal advantages, and each will require a different type of business plan. Do you know the type of business you want to open? Are you willing to do the research? Are you ready to hire an attorney?


  • Personal Involvement—This is one of the most important factors to consider. What role do you want to fill in your new Martial Arts school? Are you okay with spending the majority of your time dealing with tax and paperwork for the first year or two? Are you okay combining your passion for Muay Thai with your income? Do you want to be the head sensei, or are you okay taking a backseat when it comes to teaching?


  • Community Need—Finally, you should reflect on the need for a Martial Arts studio in your community. If there’s already a Muay Thai studio with a dedicated community, you may not be able to successfully establish a student base. Think through what you can offer your students that other, more entrenched studios may not be able to provide. Maybe you can run a weight loss boot camp in the evenings, or perhaps you can offer weekend classes. Think about how you can set yourself apart from other Dojos.


If you’ve thought through and provided answers to each of the above factors, congratulations: your head and resources are in the right place to start a Martial Arts school. If you stumbled on a couple factors, reevaluate your decision or look for ways to circumvent those issues. In the end, starting your own school should be about continuing your own practice and helping your community grow. If you are unable to meet those needs, Muay Thai and Martial Arts may begin to create stress rather than relief. Make this decision carefully, then proceed with the correct resources.


Our 3-Part Series

Part 1: A Step-By-Step Guide to Starting Your Own School

Part 2: Study Your Market Feasibility and Demographics

Part 3: A Dojo is a Small Business, and Small Businesses Need Software