As someone who plans on studying at university, it might be quite difficult to find part-time jobs that are similar to my chosen area of study. Other than my subject of study; theoretical physics, I have quite a passion for martial arts and I would love to consider teaching or being a trainer, as a part-time income alongside my study.

Currently, I have not yet joined a gym, but I do plan on joining a MMA club at my university. As of now, I have been self-training kickboxing for a couple of years and have trained in Kyokushin karate for some time when I was around 11 years old.

I was wondering if there's any certification or qualification that would be required to be a part-time kickboxing coach/trainer. Would I need a blackbelt in particular martial arts? In other words, what does it take to be a coach?

Edit: A little context....let's say that I am talking from a point where I am not some elite athlete, who fought professionally. Say that I am just looking for a gig in an MMA gym where I can do part-time mentoring/coaching.

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    How many sanctioned fights have you had? You can expect to coach people around your same level. So if you're a low level professional, expect to coach low level pros. If you're a 4-2 amateur, expect to coach amateurs.
    – coinbird
    Aug 11, 2020 at 18:33
  • What if I wanna coach ppl who doesn't wanna fight pro or amateur and just doing it for recreation or smth like that Aug 12, 2020 at 6:40

4 Answers 4


"Hey. Don’t ever let somebody tell you ... You can’t do something ... You got a dream. You gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period." - Will Smith, Pursuit of Happiness.

That quote should tell you that you can do this. But there is a process. And it will take some time. Take this answer constructively. Use it as a guideline. This is a long answer, so read it when you have some time.

Part-time income while studying full-time at a university.

Here are a few lines I want to address first before getting into the MA coaching part.

  • As someone who plans on studying at university, it might be quite difficult to find part-time jobs that are similar to my chosen area of study
  • I would love to consider teaching or being a trainer, as a part-time income alongside my study
  • Say that I am just looking for a gig in an MMA gym where I can do part-time mentoring/coaching.

You say that it might be quite difficult to find a part-time job that is similar to your area of study, which is theoretical physics. You mention that you "plan" on studying at a university, which tells me you aren't there yet. So, I think your assumption about getting a part-time job in that area is a bit too narrow, given you haven't had the chance to search for any yet while studying at the university. Once you make it to your 2nd year, you can apply for Teaching Assistant positions in your department. A part-time MA coaching too won't be related to your academic field. So, why not get a part-time job that is less stressful and that requires less effort?

Once you get into university, you can tutor students privately (teach O-levels, A-levels, or high-school physics, chemistry, or math — I see from your profile you are in these SE sites). If your primary goal is to find an earning source, then a part-time job — no matter doing what — will work.

Remember, college is hard. That is why a lot of people drop out, because they are not able to handle the pressure. You will have it easy at the start (the first two years), and that is when you can score your best GPA. If your initial GPA is low (despite having easy 100 and 200 level courses), it will be crazy hard to bring that GPA up later in your 3rd and 4th year. So, I would say don't worry about a part-time job now. Get used to college first, that pressure and insane amount of load. Find a part-time job that is not taxing, that does not require you to think much. You will already be overwhelmed with studies, exams, family, girls, and what not. So the part-time job should be something very easy, requiring minimal effort.

But why not Martial Arts coaching then?

See, if you said you want to coach because that fascinates you more than anything, then I would say, go for it. But it seems to me that your main concern here is the part-time income. Martial Arts coaching is a very, very difficult thing to do. It isn't just being athletic and knowing how to do some punching and kicking. It is being responsible for your students. How do you know you can take this responsibility, if you haven't yet experienced and managed your own responsibilities at the university yet?

What does it take to be a coach?

1. Passion.

It takes a lot. There are people who skip college, train and compete their whole lives, and still make horrible, horrible mentors. Teaching not just martial arts, but almost anything properly and effectively requires passion. Have you ever taught anyone anything? If you did, did you like it? How did you react when they asked the same question again and again. How did you feel when they kept making the same mistakes after you had explained something for hours? Do you enjoy teaching in general? Do you like helping others overcome their problems?

2. Fighting or sparring experience.

You say that you have no experience in actually practicing your craft in a MA gym.

Currently, I have not yet joined a gym, but I do plan on joining a MMA club at my university. As of now, I have been self-training kickboxing for a couple of years and have trained in Kyokushin karate for some time when I was around 11 years old.

First of all, you need to go join a gym. No amount of self-training will ever prepare you for being a coach. You have to get to a gym, train there, get to know people, spar with them, and then, train with them some more. What you learnt when you were 11 means nothing. I have seen people — who did some sort of traditional striking for years when they were teenagers — get annihilated when they sparred against Kickboxers who have been training and sparring for a year. You need to be able to do partner drills, bag work, and sparring.

Let me ask you this: Why would I pick you as my MA coach? You don't have a base gym where you train. You don't have fighting/sparring experience. You don't have a mentor. If you are going to teach your student a Jab-Cross-Hook combo, for example, how do you know it will be effective? Have you landed that combo on a heavy bag? Have you caught someone with that combo in sparring? How do you know what you are going to teach is actually going to work? Do you see where I am going with this?

To be able to teach someone something, you have to first learn it yourself. Lead by example! You need to test your skills. You have to be battle-tested if you are going to prepare and train others for their own battles in MA.

3. Facing your fear: Walking into the ring, with hundreds of people watching you and booing you!

Competing is essential. At least one win is preferred. It is not the trophy or the certificate that makes you qualified to be a coach. But it is the courage, the training, the hard-work, the faith that got you up there in the ring that separates you from hundreds of other MA practitioners. How are you going to train me for a fight, if you have never stepped into the ring yourself? How will you motivate me, inspire me, and tell me to face my fears, if you have never faced that yourself? How will you tell me to get up, if you have never fallen down?

It takes a lot of courage and heart to be able to get into the ring. From the time you tell your coach that you want to fight in the ring, you step inside a whole new battle that only ends after the fight. You must have this experience.

And no, you don't need a black belt in anything to compete — just a good coach and a base gym.

4. Maturity, patience, empathy, discipline, and mental toughness.

You absolutely need the above qualities to be a decent coach and not do disservice to your students. Are you a leader? Can you lead? Can you understand when someone is in emotional pain or distress? Can you be patient with someone who is quite annoying and irritating? What life-advice would you give to your 28 year old student who has just been dumped by his girlfriend? How would you help him if you see him all heartbroken and unfocused, or worse, really, really angry? How would you comfort someone who is having an emotional breakdown? How would you train someone who had a bad knee injury and is now afraid to put in their 100%? How would you help someone break that mental barrier? How would you use Martial Arts to help a student who have lost everything, got into drugs and alcohol, but wants to change now? How would you help someone who is getting bullied at college everyday? A coach doesn't have to be a psychologist, but a coach needs to be someone who has gone through these ups and downs, and can say a few words just to make the students life and training a little better.

How will you handle coaching when you are going to have your term final exams? A coach needs to be there all the time, even if that job is part-time. Are you tough enough to keep going when the going gets hard? Can you grind? You have to ask yourself these questions and then answer them as honestly as possible. Be real with yourself. This isn't just a hobby. This is real responsibility. You are responsible for your students.

Yes, you can't learn these things in one day. It takes time. By the time you finish college, you will learn many things. You will know what it is actually like to handle pressure. So, I would say, instead of thinking about coaching now, use these next 3 to 4 years to train in a MA gym. That way, you will gain many of the qualities I mentioned above, and you will have a lot of life-experience that will shape you into a much better you.

Here is what you can do.

Be an assistant to your coach/mentor. Join a MA gym and work hard. Advance to the advanced classes. Talk to your coach, engage with other senior students. Do some sparring. If possible complete in some local friendly tournaments. When you get really good at throwing combos and holding pads, your coach may use you to demonstrate combos and moves to the class. Take advantage of this. All coaches and mentors need someone to help them demonstrate the moves. In my gym, my mentor will ask one or more of the better students to help him with the demonstrations. Hold pads for your mentor when he teaches the class. Tell him you are interested in doing that. Do this for sometime, then he will tell you one day to do the basic warm-up for the class. And then one day when you have had a fight or two, ask him if he can send some private session students your way so you can make some money. Ask him if you can teach the kids class. And there you go. I have seen this happen in my gym. And this is the best way to go about it. Use your mentor.

This way, you don't have to worry about getting your own place to do the coaching, expenses and fees, paperwork, insurance, and all other logistics. If you train and you improve, and if you have a good relationship with your mentor, the door to coaching will open. If you do this right and from now on, you will be able to teach your own class in your base gym when you finish your degree.

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    Thank you RoundHouse for this amazing answer. Honestly deserve millions of upvotes. Really really good and inspiring life advice. It's almost like you have been through all this. TBH, martial arts is a passion of my life but my real goal is theoretical physics. All I was thinking about was if it's possible to consider martial arts as this side career of mine, ofc given that I am well trained, mastered my arts etc. I have not however considered the weight of the situation, as in the burden of responsibility, the fact of me teaching...etc etc. Thanks for sheding some light on it! Aug 9, 2020 at 5:11

Requirements - this is more about local laws/business question.

If it is for money - then it is more about your business/marketing/communication skills.

If it is about sports/MA spirit - it depends.

Coaching is not just a work - it is a great responsibility. It is like being a teacher. You're responsible for the things you teach your students. And HOW you teach them. If you are teaching them bad - then you're not just giving them invalid skills - you're ruining the value of what you teach in their eyes. Because bad-educated students, who cannot effectively use what you teach them, starts believing, that the subject itself is bad.

Good coach is not only about a very high level of skills - it is about ability to TEACH that skills. Which is generally other, than ability to USE skills

If you are sure in all that, and ready to take responsibilty - then I wish you good luck and good students from the whole heart!

PS Point about competing.

When you are competing (not just sparring with your partners in your home jym) - that is very different. At your first fight, million things may go wrong - not the way you expect. Ability to suppress your adrenaline, keep your mind cold, and your body to remember what to do.. and ability to TEACH that, are, from my opinion absolute requirements for a good coach.

And, at last, when your student is in the ring, you have to advise him what to do - in the way he understood it in his current condition.

You should watch what your student do, and, at the same time, what his opponent do, or trying to do. You should summarize all your information during the round, and then guide your student with a couple (3 at maximum) very short phrases, and repeat them during the break. For example "counter his start with right cross", "more jabs", "try left-left-right", and so on. Your student may be concussed, he(she) may be wavering, or catching breath - so phrases must be short and easy to understand.

Of course, that is somewhat ideal situation, when you can do all of it - but without your own experience it is just unreachable.

  • So, if say you're doing a part-time job for money ofc as a coach or mentor, what kind of certification or requirement should be considered? Aug 5, 2020 at 11:26
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    For me (I'm from Russia, we have quite different ranking - so it's hard to answer directly), the main point - very good BASE + often (in the past, at least) and success engagement in different torunaments - local at least. I'll add it to the answer, if you don't mind Aug 5, 2020 at 11:27

It does not make much of a difference whether you aspire to train the next champion full-time or just want to help some people having some fun with martial arts: you will need the ability, dedication, and ideally a license to have something worth offering.


Having some training does not suffice. You need to have the technical ability to demonstrate, the understanding to explain, and both to be able to spot and correct mistakes made.

When it comes to competition, you additionally would have to have at least some extent of experience as a competitor, although technical expertise and understanding and a good eye can make up for some of it if they are extraordinary.

Additionally, you would need to have some basis in training science and nutrition and pedagogy or you will inevitably make mistakes that hamper the development of your students.


Being a coach costs a lot of time and nerves, especially when it comes to competitions. There is no such thing as free weekends but for very few exceptions (Christmas and summer holidays, basically). The administrative part is extensive as well.


This is actually about insurance, really. If you want to profit from cheap insurance schemes, you need to have a license and, linked to that, some grading in your sport. Sure, you can offer training and open a school making up belts etc., but if sh*t hits the fan, things can get really messy financially.

This put aside, it ensures for yourself that you have the required knowledge and are kept up to date through seminars etc. I would highly recommend it in any form of organised martial art. And both kickboxing and MMA have established federations in most countries. Look for the biggest, there is fraud everywhere in the martial arts world.

Many competitions require being part in a given organisation as well, and they often check credentials when you register. If they don't, they're probably rubbish.


I have been self-training kickboxing for a couple of years and have trained in Kyokushin karate for some time when I was around 11 years old.

For someone with this background, the first step to becoming a coach would be to start training. After that you should compete, preferably more than once. Then you would have to help other trainees compete.

It is not likely that this process will be complete -- to the extent that it would be ethical for someone to pay you for your services -- before you finish university. You don't even know if you like kickboxing with other adults yet.

I do have a very good basis on kickboxing, that I have taught myself.

A lot of people who self-train think this. Very few are correct. Most are wrong. The way to find out is to compete.

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    @EPICTubeHD If you don't compete, then you'll be unable to knowledgably coach students who want to compete. Aug 6, 2020 at 7:46
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    @EPICTubeHD But you don't know anything about MMA yet, right? First things first. Aug 6, 2020 at 8:49
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    @EPICTubeHD, self-learning is good - that signs, that you have a strong will - as long as self-training is sometimes harder to maintain, than group-based. But you definitely should check your skills by tournamenting. Sparrings in jym would not give your that expirience. Just join some jym, train for some months - to TEST your level. Really, hard sparring is somewhat another than just shadow boxing, even comparing to bag working - it is ANOTHER. Summary: test your level joining the jym and training. Aug 6, 2020 at 13:41
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    Join some jym for, say, 2-3 months. If your self-learned skills are really good - you'll understand it. If it does not - you'll also understand it. Aug 6, 2020 at 13:43
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    From my opinion - yes. That is an ultimate check of your skills. If you pass it - then you definitely have words to say for your students. Aug 6, 2020 at 13:45

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