Is martial arts a good career path?

  1. Sadly, almost nothing that is a joy to do (e.g, all the arts, not just the martial ones) is a "good career path." At least not for the bottom 95% of participants.

  2. I don't remember where I heard this saying but it goes something like this, "If work was fun they'd charge you at the door".

  3. It’s like any other professional sport: the vast majority of people who want to be a professional never make it and I don’t think the pay compared well with other professional sports unless you are McGregor level amazing. Especially if you haven’t been training something at a high level for years, I would say no. The high level guys now have been training for their whole lives and are extremely athletic. If you’re on the younger side like 13 maybe? But even now, there are MMA competitions being set up for that age group.

  4. Agreed, first round rookies make tens of millions out of the gate in the NFL, as a fighter you can't make that until you are well established.

  5. Even being something like a martial art instructor is tricky. My coach has a second job while also running a martial arts gym.

  6. Yep, many jiu-jitsu coaches in my area work day shifts as security guards just to make ends meet. If you're not the owner of the gym, you're making at most 1000-1500 per check

  7. Which way? As an instructor? No because running a school profitable enough is difficult. As a competitor? Also no because only the top 1% of competitors or some similarly small number ever win regular enough money. As a D-list YouTube celebrity? I mean maybe but probably not lol.

  8. Basically no matter how you look at it only the top 1% actually make decent money, if that, and even then if you put in that level of effort into other careers like accounting, swe, finance etc you’d probably still make way more then a lot of fights/coaches/you tubers

  9. Personal trainer, Kenpo karate 3rd degree, and kickboxing coach here. It’s not something you’ll be wealthy doing unless you’re a strip mall karate turd who makes a killing on contract enforcement, but the hourly rate is nuts for the output. 60/hr, 40/half hour on private lessons for someone with 10years experience is pretty par for the course. I plan and execute my whole day the way I want every day and you can’t put a price tag on that. It’s so fun and interesting that I wouldn’t want to do anything else. The time to money ratio does leave you at a salary cap around 70k but I’ve been doing it 15 years and I love going to work every day. The downsides are you have to hustle real hard, you’re not allowed to have a bad day in public, and you have to be very marketing savvy to generate business. If you have the talent and you’re a people person you should do just fine. I hope this helps

  10. If you are teaching, it may not be that bad. Most of the schools in my area have a van and make money doing after school programs.

  11. Based off the opinions of my coaches and various martial arts YouTubers, it seems one can make a living and feed a family as a Martial Art instructor. However, you ain't gonna get rich and you have to back it up with smart marketing and networking. As a fighter though... all I can say is the fact that many professional fighters have other jobs besides fighting.

  12. Even if you managed to climb up and stand among the pros, you won't get pay as much as the "entertainers" since they attract more audiences to their fights through dramas and fake scandals (sometimes real), even when you're better than them

  13. Lots of businesses make money off of other peoples hobbies. But if you open a school you are a business owner first, and a instructor second. Most people (myself included) open without knowing the first thing about business, just about martial arts. Some learn, some don't.

  14. Where do you live, how young are you, what do you intend to do and how much are you willing to sacrifice? It may not even "worth it" if you have some life expectations.

  15. Not the OP, But I’m 18. I’ve done boxing through middle school - Freshman year. I’m 5’8 with a natural reach of 70 inches about 135. I feel like I can naturally fight being quick and already taken classes for Boxing. I live In California and really believe I can be a good fighter and even a phenomenal one. I’m starting BJJ and Kick Boxing next week and I’m super stoked. I’ve been weight training and I’ve always been a really good athlete starting Varsity Football at 5’5 125. It’s been a year since I graduated and I want to know if I’m in a good position to really succeed. Of course I haven’t even fought amateur yet, But I believe I’ll steamroll of course with adversity but how long do you think it could take someone like me to make the UFC once I polish more fighting skills?

  16. Pro fighter? Go ahead train hard and do your best but remember that not all fighters make it to the top and not all combat sports pay that well.

  17. Exactly, even if you made it as a top would likely be paying a high price in injuries, some even crippling...

  18. That's not really true, the vast majority of adults training have no aspirations of being professional fighters, but rather a fun way to stay in shape. Kids can be a great market, but so can casual adults looking for fitness. Making money on wannabe fighters is however very hard. They tend to be 16-25, not have much money and take up a ton of time.

  19. Something that a lot of people in the comments seem to be misjudging is the stratification of professional fighters within the sport. 90% of pros in top promotions are highly athletic individuals, and the other 10% are still good athletes. While most train for a long time, there is an inverse correlation with your athleticism and the amount of experience it takes to become a pro. If you arent particularly athletic your ceiling will be lower and lower depending on when you begin training, but on the opposite end of the scale freak athletes can make up huge training age gaps in a smaller window. The average career will be average, and if you arent physically gifted even with a decade of intense training you most likely will never be able to consistently provide for yourself financially.

  20. You could train to become a champion in different organizations, win several medals, open your own gym, market yourself as a personal trainer…you’d be working a lot of hours and probably need to do all of those things

  21. Unless you're a top UFC fighter, it doesn't pay well in any of the career paths you could go down. And being a top UFC fighter not only takes luck and special talents, but also risks permanent, life-changing damage to literally every cell in your body. So no, it's not a good career path. However, if it's the only thing you feel like you can do right, it's certainly an attractive one.

  22. NO by itself, you need to become a lifestyle coach in order to be able to complement your career as a mnartial arts teacher.

  23. There's a saying. If you want to make a small fortune in martial arts, start with a large fortune and open a school.

  24. I'd say it depends If you're trying to be a fighter it can be assuming you put all your effort and concentration into it l. As a career in general- not really unless you own one of the top gyms in the world

  25. The thing about the most successful gyms I've seen is they train fighters, but are mostly focused on other stuff. They threw together a graded system similar to karate, do a bunch of fitness classes for casuals, and also host amateur events right out of the gym. Or else they have to have a bunch of systems taught at once and still focus on kids and casuals in addition to training fighters.

  26. It could be if you are really good at marketing/sales and want to run a mcdojo or a chain of them. Otherwise probably not.

  27. i don’t know enough about competitive fighting, but i’m pretty sure most of the instructors at my school have second jobs unless they’re the head instructor of a full time club or teach at literally 5 different locations. my old instructor stopped teaching because he needed to focus on one of his jobs to be able to properly support his family. now he’s a full time mechanic. i’m pretty sure he taught at 2 clubs (1 full time club and my club which is 4 classes a week). my current instructor teaches at 5/6 clubs (1 full time and 4/6 of the “satellite” clubs in my school’s “chain”) and i have no clue what his financial situation is but if he’s teaching at so many different places i’m not sure how much time he’d have for another job so i’m assuming he’s a full time instructor.

  28. Depends, some instructor positions pay really well depending on your area. I was making $50,000/yr as a martial arts instructor but I also live in NYC.

  29. You have to be the best of the best to go anywhere, ufc, stunt doubling , acting. Maybe opening your own school but that's a pretty tough business. Though if you're a martial artists there's always a career in kinesiology, physical therapy or even physical education, because you have sporting experience and you'll have m understanding of the body.

  30. Absolutely not. Almost always, the best martial artists are serious amateurs who have other jobs to pay the bills and are devoted to their dojo from their heart. You do it well for love. Only the poor fight for money. My dad had been a boxer -- He didn't even let me play sports, he was so concerned that I never suffer a head injury that might impair my ability to do desk work. seriously

  31. It depends on what you consider to be the point of your vocation. Do you want to earn lots of money fast and retire in old age financially stable, or do you want to do what you enjoy and every day becomes a game. Martial arts instructors aren't very well paid, neither are the majority of musicians or artists or writers, but money isn't everything.

  32. I think teaching would be the ideal career. You'll be actively training and drilling the fundamentals frequently as you teach. Being able to teach what you know is said to be the key to mastering an art. I believe you can make a lifelong career of teaching much easier than someone could make a lifelong career of fighting competitively.

  33. But also winning competitions helps give you credibility for attracting students. Personally, I've never cared about someone's competitive background, but I know most do.

  34. How old are you? If you're just starting martial arts at an adult age (20+) in hopes of making a career out of it,your chances are even worse than what the comments so far have been telling you.

  35. I mean you either have it or you don't athletically. If you dont, even if you have been training from birth your best hope is probably a middling career with a few pro bouts, and if you do have it (depending on how much) you can close the gap more quickly. I would rather be a freak athlete with zero experience at 20 than a mediocre athlete with 12 years of experience at the same age.

  36. What makes you think getting clobbered and ending with CTE is a good career path? Only do martial arts for a living if you really don’t have anything else left to do, cause after the third leg kick in a fight life starts looking a lot more grim. Pro fighters are in my opinion the toughest people there are, not physically but mentally.

  37. not really. If you have an average or lower than average IQ and cant do white collar work, it might be an option. But it pays less than trades.

  38. No but if your really talneted and can branch out to more than one income stream, you can make an ok living. But just teaching Martails Arts no, Same with making it big doing MMA, fightings doesn't really pay well unless you the top.01%. All that said. If you are great and skilled. And can also pull off the martial arts YouTuber stuff. you can make a ok amound of money doing it. having a parton helps. but just trying to open your own studio and train martails arts would bring you in great money. If its a side hobbie that your spending 20 hours a week doing and you like that its ok.

  39. No. It is undervalued, underpaid, and requires a bunch of in person connections to be cultivated through long years.

  40. I'd say yes but with some stipulations. I currently work at a franchise location (I know, just hear me out) that has solid starting pay and the potential to move up and maybe even own your own school at some point. With safety nets, a good Sensei/instructor, and a good business person by your side, you can make it work as a career if you're looking to own a school. As just an instructor, you may end up hopping place to place since sadly, many martial arts places aren't long-lived but I could see it working out.

  41. Mix up with other stuff maybe, my master is a PE and chess teacher also at a school, and he of course owns his academy and does pretty well

  42. Let me just quote Ali the Goat “ your chances of making it as a fighter is very minimal but by the time you realize it , it’ll be too late to start over . So focus on what you can

  43. Unless you’re going to be an elite boxer, an ELITE MMA fighter, or a journeyman who fights twice a month, nope. I mean you could always open your own gym and train people, but you’ll need a hefty loan, experience, and obviously students.

  44. After 25 years in the business, I can wholeheartedly say that martial arts is a terrible career path. Do it because you love it, not because it’s profitable. As soon as money becomes a priority, it will suck out your soul and you’ll lose your passion.

  45. If you're lucky and talented, maybe. Not as a career, but for money making. Otherwise, a big no. Also, not what I would call a sustainable path.

  46. I own my own combat sports academy and I'll tell you that there's not a lot of money in it. I love coaching but it'll never make you rich.

  47. Maybe if you start out working for a dojo or something and focus on using martial Arts to help improve your health so things are easier and you can get into other things. It's a give and take for sure

  48. In Japan and China, martial artists were aristocrats with the time and money to spend on martial arts rather than endeavors that made money. The first Ip Man movie hinted at this. Master Ip was rich and practiced Wing Chun all day while his servants managed his house.

  49. i think it could be. if you are willing to have a slow start to it. and i mean like a snail in tar kind of slow.

  50. Do it for yourself and not for the money and it will be fine. If your focus will be to gain fame and money it will never come, only as a residual after. Hope that makes sense. Coming from a fighter myself

  51. You better be good at running a business. It doesn't matter if you're teaching a top tier MA and you are highly skilled in it, if you can't run a business it won't be a success. My si-gung told me for every hour you spend teaching you should spend 2 hours on the business.

  52. Not trying to be a jerk, but are you talking about owning a school, running it, etc? Because if not, what do you expect? Kung fu'ing people from town to town and living off the generosity of others?

  53. My coach runs two gyms, fights professionally, yet manages to just get by. She wouldn't advice anyone to pursue it as a career unless you are absolutely crazy about martial arts and are well off in the first place.

  54. no its not. but like anything it can be. if you find a niche or are exceptionally good at it, or happen to have the right contacts.

  55. what? 99% You will disabled by the time you’re 30. The other 1% will be disable by 40. Even Muhammed Ali became disabled.

  56. In general, no. The only two routes would be as a fighter or instructor. For every successful fighter there's countless ones who never even came close to making it. Those that do often pay the price with their health. As far as instructors, 95% of the ones who manage to make a living off of it do so by forgoing any sense of integrity, watering down the art and trapping students in cellphone-like billing plans. The most soulless end up running after-school martial arts daycare and working birthday parties as little more than a clown in a gi.

  57. Muhammad Ali famously said that you should train your mind before you train your fists because most people won't make it as a full time fighter unfortunately. Although it is good to have that dream and maybe even make it work one day, sadly it's not that realistic. If martial arts really is a passion of yours, there's always a way to keep it around in your life though. As a college student with 2 jobs and an internship, I still find ways to fit muay thai in my life.

  58. Best opportunity in this space is to run an Instagram/YouTube/tiktok/etc account serving the niche and monetize it in the standard social media ways.

  59. Hell no. My sensei of 8 years who was also a former student of my first sensei closed his business forever during the pandemic. It's sad to see how many small businesses had to close because of it. And even pre pandemic he had rough patches

  60. To be entirely honest, no. Unless you are athletic, highly motivated, intelligent, young and tough, then I wouldn't recommend it. It's a brutal sport and the training is intense. If you don't make it into the big leagues then you are going to be getting paid pennies.

  61. Yeah, I teach at a dojo that has been around for 30 years and that is super rare. The owner was telling us that 90 percent of dojos fail and banks generally will not give small business loans for them.

  62. It is difficult to run any small school in a traditional manner. Think restaurants and franchising. Also I have seen more school offering online credentialed options (similar to colleges and universities). Tech is starting to change the space. Many students just want to learn basic skills (and not sparing), so these options can fit their needs and can be scaled for profit.

  63. If you invest a lot of time and effort into training to become skilled in a lucrative martial art and have some charisma and teaching ability - you can establish a dojo, preferably somewhere where that specific style is rare.

  64. I think it's kind of like choosing a life in church ministry. You have to have a passion for it. It needs to be the thing that fulfills you because you will have to do it all the time. You won't get rich. In fact, if discussions with my instructor are any indication, you will spend most of your time in debt. But if it brings you joy, the poverty you experience won't bother you as much. My school owner/instructor had multiple side jobs in order to keep the lights on in the dojang. But the families love him and he loves them.

  65. As a participant in professional settings, only If you are one of the top dogs, and the sport is valued by your country, or the country your currently living. As a teacher? Yeah, should bê Fine

  66. Yes. But it ain’t easy. I was lucky to land a full time job working in martial arts but I had to work my way up to it. First, I worked part time and had another part time to get enough income. Then I was lucky to get another part time in martial arts so I could quit the part time job. Finally, I had a chance to switch to another school that would pay more and aligned with my ideals more. No mcdojo, real technique and values and (for crying out loud)Korean language (Taekwondo). I consider myself lucky to be able to play and get paid for it. However I have to work 7 days, barely any holidays, long hours, and deal with injuries and recovery. Is it worhy? Yes. Would anyone be willing to do the same for the same pay? Probably not. In my experience it is too much work and only those who love are willing to put up with it. Is it worth seeing children develop into role model adults that are going to make this world a better place, absolutely. Now ask yourself, are you willing to put up with all the struggle it will involve and still do it. If the answer is yes go for it. Many people succeed in this industry. You CAN make a living. You can work hard and make more income if you open your own school and provide quality education. In the end would you rather suffer to be able to train martial arts or would you rather keep it a hobby? That’s what it comes down to it for me. I love getting payed to do something I would do if no one payed me anyway

  67. How is pro-ball a better option? There are far more people doing it from a young age, and the pool of players is several times larger. Not to mention Its a far more selective sport athletically and physically. You can fight at almost any height due to the weight divisions, but in basketball there are very, very few pros under 6'0''. All of the pros under 6'5'' have great verticality and lateral quickness as well, well beyond the typical MMA fighter.

  68. Probably. I'd say start training now and get a good record going. Then pivot to coaching to help cover the bills. Who knows if you do well you could own a gym

  69. If you live in america no. Even when you are top 10 in ufc you get like 40k followers on instagram. If you live in a smaller country you can gain followers and get sponsorships and get your money from there

  70. As long as there are enough students. But then there must also be good instructors, or else it is not possible to pass on the art to others in a qualified way.

  71. Not really no. I teach tkd and part time is the only option available to me so I have two jobs. If you can manage to make the leap to become a school owner and it manages to be successful then you’re usually ok financially but far and few between manage to do that. There’s usually no benefits either but my instructor earnestly cared for us and set us up with a 401k. Yes it’s super fun and rewarding and challenging and keeps you on your toes but if you specifically go in to teach you’re accepting a big financial risk. I don’t know anything about going in to the fighting ring aspect of martial arts. Oh something that could be fun idk anything about it but fight choreography in the entertainment industry could be awesome idk if it’s more financially stable though. Stunt work maybe too.

  72. It could be if you didn’t want to fight for a big promotion. Its like being a Hollywood film director. No one does it. But you could make a decent business having a gym yourself if you got to the level of being a trainer. Won’t make you a millionaire, but could be a decent business.

  73. Anything outside of boxing is a no. Even with boxing, you are likely going to be a no-name shitter taking life changing damage ever other week to build up a prospect.

  74. I literally go to work to fund my life its a means to an end. I am in no way in love with it.. Who in their right mind could be in love with working in a office on a computer?

  75. As a fighter? Doubtful. As an instructor? It might be a decent side gig for extra beer money. Very few people ever manage to make martial arts a full-time career path that supplies a viable income on its own. Every instructor I've ever met works a regular full-time job and then teaches in the evenings (or is in their 70s and retired, but worked a regular day job + taught in the evenings up until retirement).

  76. It's a good side hustle to have, very few can make a career out of it. If that individual is very lucrative, then they were either a very famous fighter or took the full quantity instead or quality so of speak.

  77. I'd pay you up to about $1200/year (maybe more, just a little) to teach my children if you were good at it. And this isn't exclusive, so you could maybe teach up to 30 or 40 at the same time.

  78. No, pretty much any other career would be better financially. If you could put the amount of work in to be a “pro fighter” earning 60k a year… you could put that determination somewhere else

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