Martial Arts Scholarships

Self-Discipline Counts in the Job Market

It is remarkable how many scholarships for martial arts students have survived the economic downturn which ended many other kinds of student financial aid. One of the keys to success in the martial arts is a refusal to be discouraged, a tenacity that enables one to overcome obstacles, and that is reflected in the continuation of these scholarships. That determined spirit is summed up in the motto of the American Taekwondo Association, which is “Today not possible, tomorrow possible.”

Scholarships From Private Organizations

Many of these scholarship donors are martial arts associations. Note: Although the websites referenced may not have updated their pages in several years, all the scholarship programs mentioned have recorded activity as of 2012-2013.

American Taekwondo Associationmartial arts scholarships

The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) has established the H. U. Lee Scholarship Foundation to distribute college scholarships to its student members. There is a list of criteria you must meet to be considered for the award.

You must:

  • Graduate from high school with a GPA of 3.0.
  • Have been admitted by a college as a full-time student.
  • Present an SAT score of 1100 or an ACT score of 27.
  • Demonstrate personal characteristics inculcated by the ATA (examples given are discipline and perseverance).
  • Adhere to the legal code by registering for the draft (if applicable) and avoiding drug convictions.
  • Submit the following documentation with the application: high school transcripts, essay, two reference letters.

Amateur Athletic Union

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) has presented the AAU Karate Scholarship annually since 2004 to one man and one woman. To qualify, applicants must have spent four years working with AAU Karate, and choose an accredited college or university. Each award brings $1,000.00.

You will need to include personal references and transcripts with your application.

Kick 4 College National Karate League

The Kick 4 College National Karate League Scholarship, funded by the Kick 4 College National Karate League, goes to the male and female winners from the 16-17 age bracket in an annual martial arts tournament. Not only the league but other martial arts associations contribute to this program (for instance, the 2013 Redlands Invitational tournament lists Kick 4 College as a beneficiary).

United States Judo Federation

The United States Judo Federation (USJF) currently offers two scholarships. The Keiko Fukuda Judo Scholarship, reserved for female judo students, can be used for either college expenses or to fund further education in judo. The applicant should show a commendable shiai record, good character, and evidence of contribution to the sport.

U. S. citizenship and financial need are required. The Fukuda award usually ranges between $400 and $500.

The U.S.J.F. George C. Balch Education Scholarship looks for a student who is academically successful and plans to continue judo throughout college. You must keep your membership with the USJF current, maintain a GPA of at least 3.0, and remain active in judo practice.

The Balch award brings $1,000 per year and may be renewed for all four years of college.

A Ray of Hope Foundation

A Ray of Hope Foundation is a new philanthropic endeavor headed by Raymond Daniels, a well-known sports martial artist. Students will be selected for scholarships based on leadership, community service, academic prowess, and success in martial arts (a black belt is required). You can apply through the Bay Area Sport Karate Association.

USA Judo

USA Judo, a nonprofit associated with the Olympics, offers the USA Judo Life Member Scholarship Grants to student athletes who have the potential to become elite competitors. The grants are worth as much as $2,000 each semester, and can be used for college expenses including food, housing, and transportation.

Since the grants are given in response to financial need, there is a limit on annual income of $30,000 for a single athlete.

Vero Beach Karate Association

The Vero Beach Karate Association distributes scholarships to black belts who achieved their rank within the organization. The amount of the award increases with degree: a first degree black belt receives $1,000, and a third degree student receives $3,000. To be eligible for a scholarship, black belt students must complete the required paperwork and participate in the community fundraising that supports the awards.

Japanese American Citizens League

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) presents scholarships to its student members. Those awards include the Hanayagi Rokumie Memorial Japanese Cultural Scholarship, for a student who performs notably in a cultural activity. While the other scholarships for martial arts focus primarily on the sports aspect, this scholarship is a reminder of the place of martial arts in Japanese history.

The juxtaposition of martial arts with the other activities for which you can win this award, such as flower arranging and tea ceremony, is particularly piquant.

College-Based Scholarships

Texas A&M University

The judo program at Texas A&M University provides the Texas A&M University Judo Scholarship, which is available to all full-time students who participate in the sport, including freshmen and transfer students. Amusingly, scholarship fund contributors are listed in order of the size of their donations, the size being given as a judo score (for example, ippon, wazari, and yuko).

San Jose State University

The judo club at San Jose State University has received donations from alumni to establish the Mike Swain Scholarship for students on the judo team. You must be a member of one of the three national judo organizations (the USJI, USJF, or USJA) to apply, and supply reference letters from both coaches and high school teachers.


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