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Teaching Martial Arts From a Home or Garage Dojo

By Mike Massie


"Mike, I have implemented some of your ideas and we have generated 12 leads in the last 2 weeks. I am actually excited about teaching Martial Arts again. Thanks! "

Chris Harris
Freestyle Martial Arts

Occasionally I get asked whether an instructor should teach out of their home. Since roughly one-half of the schools I've trained at have been located either in or on the grounds of private residences, I can relate to this issue.

My first bit of advice with regards to this issue of teaching out of your home is that you speak to an attorney about these matters. Since I'm not an attorney, any advice I can offer is pure conjecture based on my own experiences running a business. Only an attorney that is licensed to practice in your area can give you a definitive opinion in these matters.

With that caveat, I will say that in my own experience, having a separate location that is paid for from bank accounts that are owned by a separate legal business entity (a corporation or Limited Liability Company) can act to insulate your personal assets from any potential litigation that may arise in the event that a student of yours gets injured during practice.

By the way, liability insurance is an absolute must - don't start teaching without it. People who sue will name as defendants the folks who have the most money. Thus, if you have a $3 million insurance policy, they're more likely to go after the $3 million insurance policy than your $150,000 home.

As a general rule-of-thumb, the more risk-averse you are when you launch your business, the better. Rather than teach out of your house, I recommend you secure a part-time location at a YMCA, a fitness center, a school, or a church and purchase a decent liability insurance policy for martial arts instructors.

Whether you choose to teach private lessons or group classes, having a separate location serves to separate your business and personal activities - once again, this will serve to insulate your personal assets should you be sued.

I definitely advise you to hire a good general practice or small business attorney. Like I mention in the book, $300 in legal fees now for a consultation is nothing compared to the cost of a law suit down the road.

Finally, if you want to know how to start teaching part-time, and how to turn your part-time classes into a full-time business, you'll want to read Small Dojo Big Profits. In it, I explain exactly how I did it, and how anyone can follow the very same plan for opening their own successful school.


Mike Massie has been a full-time school owner for more than 15 years of his 25 years in the martial arts, and has started two successful martial arts schools from scratch. Mike provides business coaching for instructors who are starting their own martial arts schools via the members area of this website.