"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?
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.