opening a school?

does anyone know the costs involved in opening a school?
do you have any tips for opening one?

are there any websites that could help?

Well the costs can vary tremendously- I would first start with a budget, what can you afford: both initially(start up costs) and on a month to month basis. The biggest upfront cost is the mat surface, then the biggest ongoing expense is rent/mortgage payments and utilities. If you are starting up a club from scratch I would rule out trying to have your own space. I have found Judo clubs that were run out of community/church rec rooms, gymnastics centers, community colleges, high school wrestling rooms, etc... My club ran that way for 10 yrs bouncing around where ever we could find free/cheap space. We could usually work out a "revenue share" deal where we would fork over the bulk of what we brought in each month (say 70/30 split) and in return there was no monthly minimum payment due. Your workout surface will depend on where you end up, if you can keep the mats down, or have to pick them up after class, etc... our club put over $8,000 into mats and a spring floor (with 100's or hours of free labor) but it took us ten years to get to that point. We started sharing space with another club with no money out of pocket and grew from there. USJI/USJA takes care of insurance concerns if all your club members join up.

Just opened my new club Aug 1st. Finally got out of the karate club and into my own dojo. Nice for a change. Rent is alot more but the foundation is started.

hey judojordan,

can you discuss some of the costs you have had to incur that you were not expecting? also, what are some tips you would give people looking to start their own dojo?

One big thing is do you expect to make a living of it?, or just have the school pay itself. You have to seriuosly look into marketing to get your schools attention.Try different ones. Don't be surprised if you spend your own money at the beginning to get things going. I wish you all the best!

Yes, I want to do it full time. i figure maybe I'll have to teach kids...

People suggest I get a business partner, but I think that'll just divide that profit.

Am I right, or do I have a big ego?

I have just (2 weeks ago) opened my school. I had been floating and sharing space for the last 5 years or so. I teach primarily Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but judo is integrated. I am teaching part time after work. I also have enough money to pay for the school expenses if I had to do so. Obviously, I prefer not to pay to train others. This may make my situation markedly different from your own.

I have discovered several things, so far. Everything took longer than I anticipated-in my case especially the build out. Most things have cost more than I anticipated.

Mats are expensive. I went with tatami (zebra) which is more expensive than a flooring system with a single cover.

I started teaching a kids class for the first time. It is essentially a judo based kids class. I have also added very basic punching and wrestling. I didn't know where to begin with the kids class. I purchased Louis' Play as the Way dvds and they provided some valuable insight.

I believe that teaching kids is absolutely necessary for a full time martial arts school. I have found, thus far, that kids are easier to teach and more enthusiastic than adults.

I have started using a billing company, ASF. I anticipate this helping with school retention and income, although it is much too soon to tell.

I have already had a greater response with minimal advertising thus far than I had sharing space. My marketing is beginning over the next few weeks.

You can ask here or e-mail me (marc @ if you had any questions that I may be able to answer.


Pablos, If you get a business partner, make sure you know what they expect.Make a contract too.It makes life more simpler to know that things are written down.I myself don't have anyone else, because I had a bad experience with someone teaching another style here and I totally backed him up.Long story short, got back from Russia, and he's gone, with his students and opens his own school, without anytime telling me. Just be smart!:)(not like me!!!)

that's terrible, i'm sorry to hear that...the trust thing may be an issue...

I'm more afraid of putting more effort into this than any partners would. this would be my full-time job, and i don't think any partner would have that kind of commitment.

1st I had to put my business plan together. Second I had to find a facility. Within a reasonably price. The guy upstairs must like judo cause he found me a great place for a great price. One of the biggest growing communities in Ohio. I'm not locked into the city or low rent district. Suburb just west of Cleveland. Around 4,000 square ft. The landlord is great he installed 2 new furnaces. The building is divided in 2 parts. 2,000 for the dojo, 1,200 for my wife's fitness room and my personal training studio and 800 for changing facilities. The only downfall no showers.

I didn't run into any unforseen cost. Heck judo mats mat cover chairs. I did have to paint and it took me alittle time to prep the place. I'll try to put pictures up.

One thing I did have to change since I opened I quit my day job to do this full time. I had to get outside the box and be creative in what to do. I started a kids class 4-6 year olds and it is full I only take 20 kids. We are on our second month and the demand is so good I''m going to start a second class. Second I'm able to start a kids class. Finally!!!! 7-15year olds and my fisrt class has 16 students and my normal adult class which I have roughly 30 students. Now I also started a groundfighting class that is geared towards law enforcement that is at 7 am and I cut that class size to 12 officers. I also rented the club to a Eskrido group for 4 hours a week. Helps with the rent. And I do have to private students also. My wife has just started her fitness classes this past weekend. So the place has been hoppn'. Now I'm alittle more focused on increasing my personal training business. I have right now 5 clients that I go into their homes or they come to mine. I have a full gym in my basement. I'm getting a couple of them to move to the new facility since I have alimited amount of equimpment on the fitness side. Gosh darn I wish I could be in there all day.

I definately would not have gotten into this if I didn't have other sources of income coming in. I know this is going to be successful but starting off is tough. I would say this that my old school 10 minutes away I had very little traffic flow or visitor. Had a good club and had very few kids come in. The new place seems like all it is, is kids. And there is a huge TKDschool near by. Location remember has a lot to do with my success. I used to say start a club and they will come. Yes the old students will. But that's not how to grow the business. I have had some help with some successful judo people and picked their brains before I opened also. Todd Brehe was a great help!

My biggest fear right now is turning the heat on. I'll keep you posted on that.

TTT! i would love to see some pictures. if you dont mind i would also like the opportunity to ask more question when i stumble across them.

keep us updated on your success.

tex... your first problem was going with zebra.. might not have cost as much as swain, but in a few years, when the glue comes apart and they turn to crap--youll be upset.

what do you think of making your own mats? I think I can do it with insulation foam and a vinyl cover...

also, do you save much money by ordering mats in bulk?

I mean, I was thinking of flooring only part of my gym with decent mats, and puzzle mats in other areas. would i save that much money, or would I get a better deal by just ordering a lot of the good ones?

PN.. youd have to call up and get a quote on that. nobody except a sales person can answer that for you.

and, the word bulk should be used carefully.. remember, all these products are shipped by the container crate from overseas... those things are huge and hold a lot of mats. what you consider to be bulk, might not even come close by the shipping standards.

still, the only way to know is to call a sales rep...


Have any of you looked into getting gov't grants? I know my dad runs a small boxing gym and he has gotten small grants here and there every year. I was thinking about this when I start my school up and was just wondering if this was a possibility! Good luck guys!

"gov't grants"

on what basis would i receive grants?

for being a small business? for recreation?


So, PablosNewton, how did it go? You just resurected this thread from back in September...

Non-Profits can get gov't grants and PAY the staff/instructors.Loophole.