How To Write A Martial Arts School Business Plan

“Discipline is not a mystery,” says Sensei Leader Movement Founder and Jim Bouchard. “It’s the simple and dedicated practice of aligning your vision and your actions.”

If you’re starting your own martial arts school, you’ve clearly taken the time to perfect the discipline of your practice. You’ve harnessed the drive to make your passion your full-time profession. Great work! But in order to run a successful dojo, you also need to establish and maintain a disciplined business plan.

This plan needs to clearly align your vision and goals with how you intend to achieve them. It’s what you’ll present to your bank to secure loans, to your investors and to your future managers. It’s what proves to friends, family, clients and colleagues that you’re serious – that there’s no going back on your dreams.

Also, when you lay it out for yourself, it’s easier to visualise the next steps and hold yourself accountable to make them happen.

Put simply, you can’t succeed without a kickass business plan. You can find some good fitness business templates online, but to give you the edge beyond the average, we recommend our hot tips for success. 

Start with a clear and succinct overview

What’s your business name, and positioning statement? How will you stand out from the competition? The overview, or Executive Summary as it’s sometimes called, is your opportunity to define who you are and what you stand for. 

It’s also the time to craft you offering. Open strong. Establish your specialty and make it clear what products and services you offer. For example, “We’re a dojo that focuses on Japanese martial arts only – karate, judo and aikido.” 

In your overview you can also outline desired class levels, schedules and times as well as proposed venue(s).

Conduct an industry analysis

It’s crucial your martial arts business plan demonstrates an understanding of the existing market, both in your locally and further afield.

Make sure your business plan explains the perceived demand for martial arts in your area. Perhaps a successful studio isn’t accepting more students or doesn’t provide the particular specialisation you’re offering.

It’s also a smart idea to profile a dojo or martial arts brand you admire and highlight some examples of what they do well in this section. How will you adapt your inspiration to fit within your business model?

Define your target market

It’s absolutely crucial to have a clear idea of who you’re targeting.

Will your martial arts school mainly target young people? Do you have specialist teachers for advanced level classes, or for those who want to start from scratch? Perhaps it’s a combination of all the above.

A great way to highlight this in your martial arts business plan is to attempt some profiling of target clients. Give details on their age, gender, level of martial arts expertise, predicted duration as a client, and so on.

The more detail you can give on your desired clients, the easier it will be to identify their wants and needs to both yourself and potential investors.

Forecast for the years ahead

When you’re writing a business plan, you don’t just want to look at immediate gains, but to work towards a bigger picture. This business is intended to be something strong and to hopefully stand the test of time – not something you’re running for a few months. 

A solid martial arts business plan will forecast predicted growth over the years, based on estimated sign-up figures. Not sure what they’ll be? You can get a picture from your competitor and industry analysis, and target market profiling.

Statements like this are just what investors want to see: “We’re setting up our new martial arts school ‘Ninja Kids’ next to a primary school that’s currently under construction. We wish to capitalise on our close proximity to our desired target market of beginners aged 6-12.”

Outline your proposed operations

In this section, you need to shape your proposed operating schedules and costs for your dojo. 

Here are some things you need to think of:

  • Venue cost and contract
  • Staffing
  • Timetabling
  • Cleaning
  • Equipment
  • COVID-safe plan
  • OHS and safety
  • Council permits
  • Licensing.


Develop your marketing approach

There’s no point launching a martial arts school if nobody knows about it. This part of your business plan is a chance for your promotional prowess to shine.

So, how are you going to get the word out?

There are free options, such as social media. You could:

  • Start a Facebook group
  • Show off your shiny new studio on Insta
  • Launch some teaser sparring videos on Tiktok.

A local radio station or newspaper might be interested in coverage, or advertising.

If you can tap into existing networks of local martial arts interest areas, or call on the trusted connections of your teachers, a round robin SMS text out can be great to get the initial word out.

The options are endless. Just make sure that whether it’s mail drops in letterboxes or adverts in glossy magazines, your marketing intentions are outlined clearly in your business plan.

Know your finances inside and out

Crunching the numbers for a new martial arts business can be intimidating. But you need to be realistic. Total up all costs and be honest. 

If you’re seeking financial assistance you need to be as transparent as possible – and this means also making sure all your personal debts are in order. There’s no room for skeletons in the closet.

Make your venue hire more budget friendly by sharing a venue with another fitness business to begin with. And start small. You can always grow, but it’s not as easy to go backwards. 

With the right plans in place, your steps to dojo success are well within reach!


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