I suffered a heart attack right after Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training last year, and as a result I have been paying much more attention to my health.

I've trained in martial arts on and off for years, but now that I've been through rehabilitation, and talking to various health and fitness professionals (Osteos, Dieticians, Physios, Personal Trainer, etc) it has become clear to me how little I have been taught about basic fitness as part of my martial arts training. I'm convinced that many (but certainly not all) warm-up routines are just some exercises the instructor learned somewhere and threw together.

Sure I could (and probably should) have gone out and taught myself about these things, but I'm curious how many martial arts schools, or instructors, have fitness qualifications, and use that as part of their normal training?

I'm not aware of any requirement for being a fitness instructor when you start teaching martial arts. Do many people do this of their own initiative or see value in it?


3 Answers 3


I've had only one martial arts instructor who was also a certified personal trainer (in the US, through a single certification organization). I would be very surprised if even half of the instructors and assistant instructors in the US were also certified personal trainers.

I'm not aware of any federal or state requirements regulating this, but there may well be some.

Most martial arts schools focus on their art, not general fitness, too--although some arts focus more on aerobic conditioning/readiness than others.

More recently, I believe warm-up routines have become better as the value of a functional warm-up has become better known and isn't just some mindless stretching or jumping jacks but rather a focused, graduated set of exercises that increases the heart rate, moves all joints through their ranges of motion, and preps the body for real work.


Difficult question. It depends on your location. Some places have very strict requirements by law. For instance, I believe instructors and even black belts in Singapore need to pass certain courses and be approved by a national agency.

Many places don't have such requirements, but quite a few good teachers and students do learn this either by their own accord, or by the recommendation of their school. It is of course always in the best interest for a school that they have good instructors to make good and fit students.

At our school, all our instructors get some basic teaching courses. I also know of schools who require more advanced courses, and schools who require nothing at all. Put short, it differs greatly.

If this is a concern to you, I'd advice asking your prospect school what their goal is, what they require and what their current instructors already can.

Another thing to keep in mind, is not to stare yourself blind at certifications and ranks. An instructor with lots of fancy stripes on his belts and smart-sounding certifications, doesn't nescesarilly have to be great. On the other hand, an instructor with no certifications, and whom doesn't even hold a high rank, may very well be terrific at what he does.


This is going to vary from region to region. Here in BC, Canada there's a local fitness instructor certification group (BCRPA) and there's also national coaching certification covering Judo, TKD and Karate (also Wrestling and Boxing, but that's more expected). Outside of Judo, Wrestling and Boxing I'm not sure there's any enforcement of that. There are so many TKD and Karate organisations that you could have one that requires it (likely WTF), while another doesn't.

I don't think it should be necessary, one of the local schools does away with any fitness training and just trains technique. If you want to get strong/fit, you can do that on your own time. That's a perfectly acceptable arrangement. However, if the instructor chooses to include a fitness routine, I'd rather they be certified. Most of them seem to be whatever was taught in PE class when the instructor went to school, and often that does more harm than good.

  • 2
    Nice answer. I agree completely with you, esp about the "more harm than good" part. I don't mind training technique, and even once had an instructor that said we should get fit in our own time and come to class ready to train technique. I've also seen some shocking warm up routines in schools, but this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
    – nedlud
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 21:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.