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Martial Arts Instructor Qualifications

Instructor qualifications is a complex area to clearly identify exactly what is required by legislation, what is an industry standard, what corporations recognise and what the consumer expects to see.

There isn’t any legislation that states any martial arts instructor requires a specific qualification to teach. There are however laws around the operation of a business, hiring a venue, working with children for example that can have a direct impact on an instructor.

We believe our new Instructor Qualification Matrix will make it easier to identify an instructor’s competency through numerous factors. We have identified several elements that martial artists can draw from to be deemed, recognised as a qualified instructor. We feel the process of accumulating points for experience, grades, formal qualifications and industry contributes, is a comprehensive method of assessing an instructor’s competency. 

This Matrix has been assembled in collaboration with a number of industry experts and is not a final model. It is open to be adjusted / improved to provide greater transparency and exact clarification in a very complex area. The basis of the Matrix is to validate everyone’s martial arts knowledge, the most relevant qualifications required, instructor achievements and contributions to this industry. GO TO MATRIX

These are the categories that contribute to an instructor’s competency Formal Qualifications - from a RTO / TAFE / University Accreditation / Certification - by an association Course – relevance to industry Periods of time in training - minimum of 4 years training Seminars / Workshops attended Association – memberships - deemed more professional Belt systems – black belt / sash Promoters – events run per year Tournaments – participation in over the years Industry checks – police / working with children Licences – prohibited weapons

How are the categories integrated: FORMAL QUALIFICATIONS - Some qualifications maybe deemed higher than others however the relevance plays a bigger part in obtaining the most appropriate skills / knowledge for the job, (teaching martial arts).


ASSOCIATION VALIDATION -Accreditations / Certifications don’t reflect the true worth of an instructor’s knowledge but do acknowledge that certain elements have been identified as competent. The screening process of existing qualifications is an essential part of an Association’s commitment to make sure the consumer is in safer hands.

DURATION OF TRAINING - The period of time can be a better marker for knowledge acquired because belt requirements vary so much. There are many systems that don’t have a formal assessment / grading process to substantiate the level of teacher.

SPECIALISED TRAINING - Seminars and workshops are normally on specialised topics and if a person has participated in a lot of these it would reflect their commitment to study in addition to standard classes and should be recognised. Extra points given.


BELT / RANK - The colour of the belt was more of an indicator of skill, some decades ago. Now in most cases a black belt seems to be the marker of competency to operate a club. In the case of Brazilian Jiu Jutsu it is deemed that a blue belt (training 4 years) would be eligible to teach unsupervised, however insurance companies state it should be purple belt. A belt may just mean that a person has made that grade but may not have the experience or training to become a coach / instructor.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS - Membership to associations / peak bodies serve all industries, it shows that instructors want to access higher learning, comply with industry standards, keep up to date on regulations, get access to support services and be recognised as a professional operator. Extra points given.


PROMOTERS - There are many promoters who have done extensive martial arts training and now focus on events. There are a lot of skills required to organise people, manage the risk, communicate on all levels and to run events. They also gain knowledge by being exposed to competitors / coaches / referees, so we feel it important to include this expertise into the matrix. PARTICIPATING IN COMPETITIONS – Attending, placing and winning Tournaments / Fight Shows acknowledges a certain level of commitment and skill level in martial arts. If a person has been successful in winning competitions / fights we feel they should receive a higher level of points than those that have just participated without placement.

LICENSES / CHECKS - Industry checks and licenses are vital where applicable but not required in some areas. Our view is even if you don’t teach anyone under 18 years you still obtain a ‘working with children check’. Many other sporting clubs / schools require people to have them if they are interacting in certain activities, (certainly on school camps). It also gives parents that every instructor in the club has a check. A police check is currently optional, but a club owner may require their instructors to have one to work for them. A weapons licence is required to keep or teach how to use a prohibited weapon. Extra points given.

NSO Instructor Recognition: National Sporting Orginisations (NSO) have gone through a government vetting process and need to operate in accordance to set guidelines and therefore qualify to apply for government funding. NSOs have worked with the Australia Sports Commission (ASC) providing the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS) training courses. Due to this relation between the two bodies the NCAS was deemed a government recognised accreditation. Now that the ASC has retired the NCAS the NSOs now provide their own training course which is not endorsed by the ASC.

RTO / TAFE Instructor Recognition: Registered Training Orginisations (RTO) and TAFEs are recognised by Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) making their courses government recognised. Some of the courses that are recognised as relevant for the martial arts industry are Cert III – Diploma in Coaching, Fitness, Sport & Recreation). The most relevant course is Cert III Sport & Recreation with martial arts and self defence units, run through Martial Arts Australia (Australian Martial Arts Coaching System). This course is also available separated into three individual levels.

Industry Instructor Recognition: The industry (general associations and peak bodies) can provide instructors with recognition through training courses, suggest the appropriate codes of conduct for operators and provide other business support. They can also be issued an accreditation / certification through a membership without doing any courses if they already have the appropriate level of qualifications.

Corporations Instructor Recognition: Corporations follow industry and government recognition which helps them identify corporate professionalism. This would be a factor when committing any investment (sponsorship) to this industry. Corporations are much more likely to accept trainers that are government / industry recognised. It is also easier for them to allocate funding to courses that are nationally recognised, (RTO units for example). Consumer Instructor Recognition: The consumer is now more likely to question instructor qualifications / accreditations / certifications to see if they are deemed qualified in their eyes. They want to see a governing authority that has checked an instructor’s qualifications to make sure they are in safe hands. Membership to a credible association gives consumers more confidence in selecting one instructor/club over another.

As an instructor you can contribute to this process, have your say and help make our industry more professional. If you feel you have any ideas / suggestions to our Matrix please email us here - support@martialartsaustralia.com.au


Martial Arts Australia - International Martial Arts Alliance - Martial Arts Insurance Services
Corporate Office: Level 1 / 96 Wellington Pde East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Production Studio: Unit 6 / 12 Henderson Rd Knoxfield Victoria, Australia
Postal Address: PO Box 2057 Blackburn Southl 3130 Victoria, Australia  
Phone: 03 8601 1124

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