Entry & Membership Eligibility Criteria

For The British Martial Arts & Boxing Association

We’re very proud to have some of the industry’s highest levels of expectations & requirements in order to obtain BMABA certified licensing and membership.

As an instructor or black belt you’ll know the trouble fraudsters, McDojos and glass-screen-warriors can cause our industry. We fully understand that if WE operate an open door policy and allow anyone access without a proper vetting process then we’re jeopardising the integrity of our organisation.

Unlike some other martial arts associations (including a number of larger, more ‘recognised’ organisations) we won’t simply accept money for memberships and certificates. We feel doing so compromises our ethics & standards and doesn’t offer our members any form of protection when using us as a licensing authority or representing body.

To protect our members and the validity of certification we issue, we insist on strict guidelines to help establish entry criteria. This isn’t designed to discourage anybody from joining – it’s designed instead to try and ensure those who hold a genuine grade are able to join an organisation in which they can be sure the reputation of the body they’ve chosen won’t be pulled down by dishonest instructors or clubs.

Please don’t be afraid to speak with us if you’re unsure about your eligibility to join. We can take every applicant on a step-by-step basis. Drop us a message if you’re not sure.

If you’re not currently teaching and are instead looking to start teaching at a future point you may join our organisation without the requirements set forth in box 4.

You may provide the above mentioned checks & documents on an ‘as and when’ basis after your membership has began in order to reach a full teaching status.

Regardless of whether or not you’re currently teaching you will be required to provide proof of grade and must meet our eligibility criteria as defined in boxes 1,2 & 3.

1.) Grades & Qualifications

All BMABA applicants are expected to hold relevant and accepted industry qualifications or grades that entitle them to instruct unsupervised.


To qualify for membership with our organisation you’ll need the following;

  • A Black Belt (1st Dan) Or Equivalent


  • A Martial Arts / Combat Coaching Qualification

Whilst this may currently differ from Association to Association we tend to set some of the highest standards for most UK associations, clubs and instructors meaning we’ll only accept one or more of the following as teaching entitlement;

  • A Valid Black Belt Of 1st Dan (or equivalent) Or Higher
  • A Valid Teaching Qualification Recognised Nationally For Combat Instruction (such as an NVQ)
  • A Black Belt Equivalency (if practicing ungraded styles) With A Professional Referee From Your Current (Or Most Recent) Instructor


Practice an ungraded style or within a club that doesn’t offer gradings? Find out more about how we can help you gain instructor status.
We will decide what organisation’s or association’s certification is acceptable based upon the quality, ethics & professionalism of each body. As there are so many instructors, clubs, associations and federations in operation for the hundreds of styles we represent, we can’t offer an exhaustive list and often need to act on a case-by-case basis. Most mainstream organisations should be recognised without issue, but we reserve the right to make this decision at the point of application.

If you’re not sure if the grade you’ve been issued is recognised or acceptable please contact our office for guidance – we’re very happy to help. Generally speaking, if it’s been honestly earned through training and study you shouldn’t have any problems.

Please note: There is a minimum term that instructors must have spent in training or teaching, regardless of grade held. Please see ‘time served & age’ toggle below.

All applicants joining our association will be required to provide proof of grade before membership can commence. 

2.) Time Served & Age

You’ll need to be a minimum of 18 years of age in order to join our organisation as an instructor.

You must have spent a minimum of 4 years training in any particular style for which you now hold a black belt (or equivalency). Without the 4 years service we won’t be able to accept the qualification or grade.  

3.) Criminal Record

We have a policy which allows certain individuals the opportunity to apply for membership even if they have previously been convicted of a criminal offence.

This policy can be viewed here.

Generally speaking, minor records are acceptable provided enough time has elapsed since the date of conviction and provided the initial conviction is not deemed to be severe in nature. We will review this on a case-by-case basis.

Nobody convicted of sexual or violent offences, regardless of the nature or time elapsed, will be permitted membership.

Our duty of care is towards our students and members – in particular minors or vulnerable members of our community. We reserve the right to deny membership on the basis of any criminal conviction disclosed or discovered in line with our terms and conditions. You are always of course entitled to be treated with dignity when disclosing such a record, and any convictions disclosed are done so in the utmost of confidentiality without prejudice.

If you’re unsure if your previous criminal record will affect our ability to represent you as a member please contact us; info@bmaba.org for guidance.

You will require an enhanced disclosure in order to be licensed to instruct children and young persons under the age of 18, and/or to teach adults at risk.

4.) Instructor's License Requirements

You’re not under any obligation to register for a BMABA instructor’s license and can remain a member without this piece of documentation. If you wish to teach under our authority you will need to be meet the below eligibility which should be considered essential to all instruction.

In order to qualify for our instructor’s license you’ll need the following;

  1. A recognised proof of grade (in line with the above specified levels)
  2. An instructor insurance policy
  3. An enhanced DBS check if working with vulnerable adults or children (under 18 years of age)
  4. A first aid qualification
  5. If working with children or adults at risk, a relevant safeguarding qualification
  6. BMABA Level 1 Instructor Qualification (Internal Award which is Free of charge to all premium members).
Don’t worry, we can provide most of the above where we can’t offer it directly we can point you to the right providers. You can join our organisation without holding all of the above and may then provide the required evidence on an ‘as and when’ basis moving forwards.

5.) Continued Requirements


In order to retain your teaching license you will be required to show a certain amount of CPD (Continued Professional Development) which can include time spent teaching, training courses completed & internal assessments or e-courses.

You will also be required to keep up to date any insurances, DBS Checks, first aid qualifications or other related professional documents.

If you stop teaching during the course of the year but wish to remain as a professionally recognised member of our organisation you may do so without the continued professional development / associated requirements (such as insurance etc).

All requirements for continued licensing are clearly specified to members after your membership has commenced and require no more than what is reasonably to be expected by a professional instructor.

Not sure if you meet our eligibility criteria?

Our eligibility criteria can sound a little confusing at times. It’s designed to be as simple as possible but as we represent more than 180+ styles and disciplines it can complicate things slightly. Generally speaking, you should know (roughly) what is expected within your style and discipline to attain a level of qualification equal to an instructor’s rank (this is usually a black belt or equivalent). That said, we understand fully that every individual circumstance is different to the next and that sometimes the conventional means to eligibility might not be applicable to you.

We’re always very happy to talk about grades, proof of qualification, eligibility, issuing body or any other questions you might have regarding the subject. Please don’t be afraid to establish a line of communication with our office if you’re thinking of joining but aren’t sure if you’re eligible.

We’re here to help, not hinder.

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