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Martial Arts Business Plan


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Martial art is a term that covers a lot of systems for fitness and competitive training. Originally the systems were for combat training, but today they also include fitness exercises too. When the training is called “martial arts,” it means there is a systemization of movements, so that people from one country to another or from one city to another are talking about and learning the same moves when practicing a particular style.

The industry made up of exercises that are based on the traditional Asian form of fighting continues to expand every year as entrepreneurs decide to open schools in order to share their skills as instructors and teach one or more exercise or fighting styles. To start a new school, the entrepreneur first needs a martial arts business plan which lays out a path for long-term success. It discusses everything from the style of fighting the school will teach to finances for the first five years of operation.

Choose One or More Styles


There is a myriad of martial exercise styles, but each is considered a form of fighting. Some styles are more difficult and more aggressive than others. The entrepreneur must carefully consider which styles are most suitable for the type of students the enterprise wants to attract. Students may decide to learn a particular style for several reasons.

  • For exercise

  • To master a skill as a form of enjoyment

  • For self-defense

  • To become a professional fighter


The various schools around the country must decide which clients the school will cater to. Clients could primarily be children, adults, women only (self-defense classes), men and women, or professional competitors. There are even schools teaching senior citizens basic styles for recreational or self-defense purposes. With the aging of the population, there are tremendous opportunities for new schools catering to Baby Boomers. Many schools offer classes designed for various age groups and/or teach more than one style.

The enormous variety of styles available today is one reason the industry has so much room for continued growth. The school can offer classes in Aikido, Karate, Judo, Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, kickboxing, jujitsu, to name just a few. Boxing and wrestling are martial styles also. There are also hybrid styles, like the rugged MMA, that blend techniques from more than one style of combat.

Industry trends are producing very modern versions of fighting styles which blend fitness and martial arts. For example, Piloxing is a blend of dance, Pilates, and boxing. Entrepreneurs are creating new styles all the time to cater to clients who want a new way to get fit.

Location, Location, Location


The location of every enterprise is important to sustainability, but for the martial exercise facility, it is critical. The reason is simple: Most students will live within five miles of the school. One reason for the small market area is that many students or clients can only take martial type classes after work or school, or on weekends. They do not want to drive long distances to take an hour long class.

Ideally, the location will be in a spot that is easily accessible, very visible, and large enough to accommodate the preferred class size. Determining the type of students the enterprise wants to attract will guide the location selection too. For example, if the instructor wants to teach elementary school children, the ideal location will be close to elementary schools and in an area where the average financial status of nearby residents indicates parents can afford the cost of lessons.

Major Influencers


Other factors influencing the choice of martial-based school location including:

  • Available commercial space

  • Space with adequate room for martial exercise classes

  • Location of competitors

  • Room for expansion as the clientele expands


Get the location right, and the enterprise is much more likely to become profitable earlier rather than later.

Calling all Clients


The martial arts school business plan is the document that can be used to request funding for startup or expansion and to lay out a path for getting the school up and running smoothly. It can address growth plans also. Every entrepreneur takes the major step of starting a new enterprise with the belief the school will achieve sustainability. However, achieving long-term success does not happen by chance.

Reasons for writing the document include:

  • Support a request for a loan from a financial institution

  • Support a request for funding from a private investor, like an angel investor or equity funder

  • Establish the mission of the enterprise

  • Define goals and objectives

  • Guide decision-making during startup and once operating

  • Create a benchmark for reviewing operations to see if they are staying on course


A martial type school can be highly successful when the plan is thorough and addresses all key operational elements. It must be carefully thought out, concise, logical, and accurate. Investors will want to know when the martial exercise enterprise will become profitable and how the entrepreneur will reach that point as soon as possible. A high-quality plan also demonstrates the entrepreneur’s ability to manage the enterprise during startup and to continue succeeding over the long-term once it is operating.

What is in the Document?


The enterprise plan is really a set of marketing strategies from one perspective. That is because success depends on the ability to identify and reach the target market, and convince its members to become paying customers. Just promoting the enterprise is not enough. People have to be willing to pay money for the goods and services offered by the martial-fitness operation. The conversion rate is a function of a number of elements, and that is precisely what the martial arts business plan presents.

  • Executive Summary – Is this a franchise, or is the entrepreneur opening a new independent school for martial-fitness classes? What is ultimate goal of the school? Is it to offer high-quality martial-exercise classes in a comfortable studio setting? What makes this studio different from the competitors? What are the startup plans and the intentions for future growth? These are the type of questions that are concisely answered in a one or two-page description of the enterprise.



  • Company Description – This section offers a lot of facts about the martial-exercise school. What is the company legal structure – sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, etc.? Who will own the company? Where will the martial-fitness school be located? This section presents a picture of the enterprise and lays the groundwork for the rest of the document’s information.



  • Management – This section explains the management structure for the new company. Is the owner qualified to teach whatever type of martial type fitness or style of combat the school is offering? Is their proof of expertise in the form of credentialing or training? For example, does the owner have a certain degree of black belt? What kind of training and experience does the manager have in both operating an enterprise like this one and/or teaching students the particular style of martial exercises? Many martial-fitness type operations begin with one person – the owner.



  • Products and Services – The main source of revenue might be regular group class fees. However, schools also sell fighting and fitness equipment, run summer camps, offer private lessons, provide specialized competitive training, sell clothes, provide instruction at other facilities like the YMCA or community center, and create other revenue streams.



  • Market Analysis – What does the market analysis indicate about the market segments, potential students, market demographics, and competition? Does the market analysis support startup of the martial-exercise enterprise in the chosen location and pricing? What is the expected market growth, and what trends were detected? When this section is completed, the reader should understand the surrounding landscape of the new enterprise.



  • Marketing Strategies – How will the entrepreneur promote the products and services? How will the target market be reached? Will there be a website or is marketing going to be strictly offline. Will the entrepreneur advertise, attend trade shows, visit local commercial enterprises, offer special promotional deals, and/or hold competitions? What is the pricing schedule for various products and services?



  • Operating Plan – What are the intended operating hours for the school? What days will the school offer classes? Will the school be open full-time, or is the entrepreneur intending on operating the company part-time at first? What kind of staff, if any, is needed, like receptionist, trainers, and bookkeeper? What will they be paid?



  • Financial Plan – Knowing how to create a financial plan in the martial arts school business plan is crucial. Anyone who does not know how to create the financial statements should get expert help because it is so important to have a good plan in place. The statements include several proforma statements. The five-year income statement projections presents revenue projections and expenses that will be incurred. The balance sheet shows assets and liabilities. There should also be a cash flow statement for the next five years, and a set of ratios that offer benchmarks for measuring progress. There is also a set of sales or revenue projections.


Reference the Plan Regularly


Though the plan for a martial arts school is used to attract investors, it also becomes a guiding document for the owner. It is important to periodically review the plan and know how to make updates as necessary. The plan should be referenced when major decisions are addressed and should reflect the real world of the going concern.

If writing a martial arts business plan seems overwhelming, it is advisable to hire an experienced plan writer. An experienced consultant can produce a plan that has the necessary quality and can assist the entrepreneur with finding funding. There is too much at stake to do anything less than a high-quality plan that drives the enterprise down a path of success.

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