MMA Instructor/Coach Career Overview

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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that combines aspects of many martial arts traditions from all over the world. Its explosion into the mainstream in the last 20 years has seen it become the world’s most popular combat sport ahead of boxing with Pay Per View and mainstream network support. Some of its practitioners and commentators have become household names with endorsement contracts worth millions of dollars.

The origins of the sport are debatable – the mixing of different martial arts goes back to ancient times and developed independently in many locations. The modern version that we now think of can probably trace its origins in a reasonably direct manner to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Vale Tudo events from the 1920s. It finally came to the United States in 1980, and its most popular commercial incarnation, the Ultimate Fighter Championships, exploded into the mainstream in 2006.

MMA techniques are made up commonly, but not exclusively, of:

Stand up: Boxing, Kickboxing, Muy Thai, Karate, Taekwondo, Capoeira, etc.

Clinch: Judo, Catch wrestling, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Sambo, Wushu Sanshou.

Ground: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Luta Livre.

An MMA instructor will teach the techniques required of the students and handle the essential administrative aspects of running any successful business – booking gyms, buying equipment, and managing the logistical requirements of competitions.

As for the teaching of the techniques themselves, physical fitness is a necessity. The instructor will demonstrate the methods, observe the student in his or her practice, and show the student what adjustments to make to hone their skills.

With the popularity of the sport, the stakes have risen, and successful MMA instructors and their gyms are incredibly lucrative and complex operations. Notable MMA gyms are Nova UniĆ£o in Rio de Janeiro, Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque NM, and the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose CA to name a few.


One example is Greg Jackson of Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in the United States; It has accumulated a net worth of 81 million dollars according to some online estimates. They are the very top of the game. While a great thing to aspire to, when it comes to more common instructors, we can look to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics – in 2016, the median annual salary of fitness trainers and instructors was $38,160, and 299,200 people were employed in this work in the United States.

  • Median Salary – $38,160

Resources to help in starting or expanding your MMA Instructor/Coach career: