How to Become a Professional Martial Artist

two boxers fighting

Professional martial artists are career athletes at the very top of their sport.

They make a living from competitions they participate in, and can also make money through sponsorships and endorsements.

I must admit, the road to becoming a pro martial artist, (whether in taekwondo, karate, boxing, etc) is not easy.

You’ll need to train hard to develop your techniques and strength, win repeatedly at the amateur level, and keep your body in tremendous physical shape.

Most of your professional life will be spent in the training ground.

So, if this sounds like a task that you are up for, here are my steps on how to become a professional martial artist.

But first, let’s understand what a professional martial artist is.

What Is a Professional Martial Artist?

To understand what a professional martial artist is, let’s understand what martial arts are.

Wikipedia defines martial arts as codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for different reasons such as self-defense; military and law enforcement applications; competition; mental, physical, and spiritual development; entertainment; and the preservation of a nation’s intangible cultural heritage.

This, therefore, means that a professional martial artist is anyone who practices codified systems and traditions of combat either for competition, entertainment, or self-defense purpose.

So, a professional martial artist is someone who has qualifications, skills, and training in a particular form of martial art.

How to Become a Professional Martial Artist

Here are some steps to help you transition into becoming a professional martial artist.

1. Pick a Martial Art Style You Love

This is indeed the first and critical step to becoming a pro martial artist.

Since you will be sticking with this for a long time, it is important to choose a martial art that interests you.

Choose a martial art you see yourself practicing even in the next 20 years.

Avoid choosing an art because of the money as you will most likely burn out and then realize that money isn’t everything.

Look for a martial art that suits you and that you are passionate about.

In my early days as a martial artist, I once signed up for a boxing class only to lose interest after about a month.

The truth is, I was motivated by the six figures I see professional boxers earn, not for any passion for the sport.

So, take that bold step to choose a martial art style that suits you. Money will come later.

2. Find a Reputable Martial Art Club Near You

Here is the reality. While you might have a particular martial art that catches your fancy, such martial art might not be popular or readily available in your locality, region, or even state.

So, while it’s great to choose a martial art style you love, you should also be guided by the availability of such a style in your location.

After all, you need a readily available dojo, instructor, and teammates to help facilitate your dream of becoming a professional martial artist in your country.

You might therefore need to adjust your choice based on what martial arts are readily available to learn in your location.

You should choose a martial art center that is very close to where you live.

You don’t want a training class that is far away from the house.

Attending a nearby training center helps to foster a smooth training process.

It also helps you stay motivated on days when you feel like giving up.

So, the closer the dojo to your house, the better!

3. Join a Club With Social Connections

Now that you have been able to identify a suitable martial art, with a training class nearby, it is also important to check in on the credentials or social network of the club and instructors.

This is a critical step to take, as this could greatly affect your journey to professional martial art practice. I’ll explain.

Some martial art instructors are great at teaching the art, but they lack the relevant social connection to facilitate their student’s rise to the national level (no matter how good the student is).

Some other instructors or platforms might not be very great at teaching the art, but they are the masters of the game when it comes to promoting their students to national coaches and sponsors.

Usually, very few martial art clubs are great at teaching and promotion (this is where you want to be).

They help you learn martial art the right way while providing the enabling opportunity for you to succeed professionally.

They usually do this by signing you up for every available competition (amateur and advanced) in the country.

This, therefore, gives you the necessary experience and exposure to get noticed by big-time sponsors and national coaches.

Although signing up for such a club can sometimes be competitive and pricey, it will be worth it in the long run as these clubs are usually a talent hunting ground for investors and national scouts.

4. Learn to fight

If you’re going to go pro as a martial artist, you need to become the best fighter you possibly can be.

Study the techniques and training regimens necessary to whatever style of martial art you’re learning.

There is no doubt that MMA is the most popular fighting style in modern times.

In MMA, you will be required to develop a “total package” of fighting skills, including boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu.

MMA may be the right choice for you if you are strong, fearless, and adaptable.

Learning martial arts such as karate, taekwondo, or ju-jitsu requires both mental and physical discipline.

To study with the best trainers, you might have to move to another country for many years to perfect these skills.

In wrestling, schools and universities have a wide network of wrestlers.

If you want to gain the necessary skills involved in mat wrestling and expand your fighting skills, consider joining a wrestling team.

Boxing is undoubtedly a classic martial art.  

All over the country, old-school gyms with heavy bags and jump ropes can be found in urban and rural areas.

And you can often get started early with youth boxing programs at relatively low costs.

5. Participate in Local Competitions

Before becoming a professional, you’ll need to compete at the grassroots or amateur level.

This sets you up for the bigger stage.

For example, In America, most martial artists such as boxers start training at a young age at a local boxing gym, participating in both local and national tournaments from the age of eight.

They perform well at competitions such as the Golden Gloves of America Championship which is a high-profile competition that showcases the best amateur boxers in the country.

Participating in this event can lead to international selection and likely open up opportunities for boxers to be signed by pro boxing promoters who will then arrange professional fights for them.

Yes, boxing might not be your choice of martial art, but in every martial art discipline, there exist tournaments or competitions similar to the Golden Gloves of America tournament.

Find these events and participate in them.

Trust me, if you are good at what you do, you will be noticed by relevant stakeholders.

This is where signing up with an influential club comes in handy, especially where you have limited funds to sponsor yourself.

6. Network

It would be amazing if a sponsor noticed your skills in the ring or mat and offered you a contract to become a professional martial artist, assign a team to you, and hired you a new trainer and manager, but the truth is, to get noticed, you’ll have to work hard.

At conventions, inform everyone you meet that you’re training to be a professional martial artist.

By profiling yourself as a talented and dedicated fighter with several amateur titles under your belt, you will attract sponsors’ attention.

Also, make connections online by joining martial arts websites and groups.

Build your name using as many resources as possible and make use of social networking to market yourself as the next big thing.

7. Speak With Management Companies

There are agencies out there dedicated to committing their resources to promote martial art talents.

Do not be afraid to approach them.

Approach management companies that have a proven track record of managing martial artists, and negotiate a management deal with them.

By approaching them yourself, you stand a better chance of determining who your team will be.

Most management companies however will only be interested in you if you have demonstrated an interest in the ring by winning several key fights against strong opponents.

So, keep winning to give yourself the best possible chance.

8. Work Hard and Stay Consistent

The reality is that most martial artists give up too early on their dream of becoming a professional.

They assume that the market is too competitive for them to get any chance of success.

They then slow down on training, stop attending amateur competitions, and maybe give up completely.

You must understand that your participation in tournaments does not guarantee your selection for professional competitions.

However, it gives you the needed experience and exposure to climbing up the professional ladder.

Trust me, if you stay consistent and remain in the face of promoters, you will be noticed someday.

Remember, good things come to those who wait.


Becoming a martial artist in any field you desire is not a day’s job. If it was easy, every martial artist out there will be professional.

For decades, taekwondo, boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts (MMA), and other forms of martial arts have been some of the most popular sports.

These days, professional martial artists can earn a lot of money both in prize money and sponsorships.

However, you must be extremely skilled and maintain a high level of fitness to compete effectively.

Becoming a professional martial artist requires years of extensive training in one form of martial art, at least.

You will also have to build a reputation as a fighter and maintain the highest level of combat skills during fights.

You need a good deal of hard work, consistency, and patience. So, do not give up.

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