How to Start a Martial Arts Studio

A martial arts studio thrives in most areas since there is a stable market for students seeking to train in martial arts. It is attractive to parents because they like the discipline and self-defense capability that it provides for their child. Children, in turn, are excited to practice a variety of physical skills among their peers.

Learn how to start your own Martial Arts Studio and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start a martial arts studio by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Martial Arts Studio
  2. Form your Martial Arts Studio into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Martial Arts Studio for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Martial Arts Studio
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Martial Arts Studio
  7. Get Martial Arts Studio Insurance
  8. Define your Martial Arts Studio Brand
  9. Create your Martial Arts Studio Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your martial arts studio. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Martial Arts Studio Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your martial arts studio?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening a martial arts studio?

Some of the basic equipment you will need to start your business includes:

  • Mats to keep students safe while they train (prices range from $150-$300 for individual quality mats)
  • A ring to facilitate one-on-one sparring (basic rings can be as cheap as $100 but require additional matting)
  • Training equipment specific to your martial art, such as target pads for Taekwondo or strike shields for practicing kicks. Some martial arts may require a speedbag for students use during practice (kick pads are approximately $13, strike shields are $37, and speedbags are $35)
  • Students require uniforms, though you should make them order their own (prices vary; Taekwondo uniforms, for example, are approximately $30).
  • Sparring gloves and sparring foot protectors tailored to your martial art (sparring gloves are $40 per pair and foot protectors are $22 per pair)
  • Taekwondo and other martial arts may require head guards, shin pads, and body armor (head shields are $40, shin pads are $30, and basic chest protectors are $40)
  • Make sure you have an easily-accessible first-aid kit (basic kits are $30, though you may want to pay more for more options)

What are the ongoing expenses for a martial arts studio?

Most of your day-to-day expenses consist of the utilities for the space you are renting. The primary monthly expenses include rent, insurance, and marketing. Incidentally, it is worth spending more on marketing when you first get started to help established your business within your community. For this business, make sure you have sufficient liability insurance, and periodically revisit your insurance plan as your number of students grows.

Who is the target market?

Surprisingly, the best clients tend to be adults. This is because they are often eager to find a good studio with a supportive staff and are typically very dedicated. However, the bulk of your clients will be younger students recruited from your ties to their schools and communities. While many will inevitably drop out, those who stay will form the bulk of your continuous clientele.

How does a martial arts studio make money?

The standard business model for a martial arts studio is to charge an annual membership fee and monthly fees for a set number of meetings per week. Additional meetings or private sessions are charged at an additional cost.

How much can you charge customers?

This business typically does not charge costs for one-time visits. Rather, members typically pay an annual membership ranging between $60 to $100. Additionally, they typically pay between $45-$99 a month to meet for three or more group classes a week. Regular private instruction for the same amount of meetings typically ranges between $75-$149 per month. At your discretion, you may decide to offer discounted rates for children or offer special bundles allowing members unlimited sessions within a certain time frame. Students are typically expected to buy their own uniforms.

How much profit can a martial arts studio make?

For someone starting a small martial arts business on their own, studio veteran and business writer Mike Massie estimates that you can make an average of $13,125 per month, with a 50 percent profit margin.

How can you make your business more profitable?

To help the studio grow, you may consider investing in additional equipment relevant to your martial art. This may include special dummies to practice certain forms of grappling, battle rope, a regular punching bag, etc. As the business grows, it may be worth considering adding more space to accommodate more or larger classes.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your martial arts studio is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a martial arts studio. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Liability Waiver

Liability waivers are essential since the practice of martial arts can potentially cause harm. Here is a sample form from World Martial Arts Academy USA, Inc.

Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional release of liability form for your martial arts business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.

Certificate of Occupancy

Martial arts studios operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

If you plan to lease a location:

  • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
  • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a martial arts studio.
  • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.

If you plan to purchase or build a studio:

  • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
  • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your rink will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Martial Arts Studio needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Martial Arts Studio.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a martial arts studio

Good promotional tactics include sponsoring local children's sports teams, creating after school youth programs, and providing demonstrations at local schools. You could also consider offering family classes for parents and kids to learn side-by-side.

How to keep customers coming back

Martial arts studios are not seasonal in the strictest sense, but they gain the most students shortly after schools begins in the Fall. Affiliating your dojo with local schools and universities is a great way to bring in new customers. Offering student discounts and free promotional practices is a great way to let students get a feel for your studio before they actually sign up for a membership.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

This business is good for individuals who are passionate about martial arts and enjoy working with young people, as they will comprise the majority of your clients. While running your own studio does allow you more flexible hours, being profitable will likely require you to work into the early evening to accommodate those who can only train after work or school. You may also consider working on weekends to better capitalize your client’s free time.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a martial arts studio?

The primary activity of a martial arts studio is to offer different martial arts sessions to different groups throughout the day. These activities are typically split by age and by martial art (if the studio is able to teach more than one), with additional time on certain days for private lessons.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful martial arts studio?

While a formal education is not required to run a martial arts studio, you can supplement your existing knowledge by pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Martial Arts or a related field. Alternately, you may wish to formally study Business Management or Marketing in order to help run and/or promote your business. It is worth it to become a member of the United States Martial Arts Association in order to become part of a network that can provide guidance and support, especially as you are getting started.

What is the growth potential for a martial arts studio?

A small scale martial arts studio requires very little space: with 2,000 square feet or less, you can keep rent and utilities low while providing more individualized attention to students. A larger scale martial arts studio may occupy a warehouse or large retail location and be able to accommodate almost twice as many students, but the rent and utilities will be commensurately higher and you must hire more instructors to both teach classes and provide the same sense of individualized attention.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

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