Martial Business: Training fighters is NOT a business model

2 Nov

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I began training fighters in 1994. The last time I had a fighter in an event was by coincidence (not design) 2015. That’s 21 years, where I trained hundreds of fighters, amateur and professional, who did very well in a variety of formats. But, as you might have guessed, I have been going to events less and less and honestly, I am not all that interested in training fighters anymore.

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We were dominate in sanshou and san da, and a major presence in both Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I frequently had 5, 6, 10 different fighters in an event or on a card. We were very well known. A lot of people think that stuff like that is going to get them students. Oh, I definitely had people show up at my door because of all these events. They were always people that wanted to become “fighters”. First problem, a lot of people who THINK they want to be “fighters” have no idea what that means. Most are not prepared for all the hard work. Most are not prepared for the pain, the sweat and the blood. Most will never make it to their first fight.

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Second problem, pretty much everyone who shows up at your door and tells you they want to be “fighters” will not be able to pay your regular tuition. It is the nature of the beast. Well! You say to yourself, “when they go professional I’ll make money that way”. Give me a minute to stop laughing…. Most fighters will never become professionals. Those that can become professional, won’t likely be ready for that level for maybe two years. And, finally, when they go professional, you know what you make? Yes, you make a whole 33%….. That is 1/3 of the $200 or $300 that most promotions will pay them…..

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So, go back to an earlier observation I made; all those fights you win at local events are NOT likely to bring in many regular people who want to take classes regularly and will pay you regularly. Now I am going to give you the third piece of bad news…. The average “fighter” is also going to scare away a lot of those regular people….

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If you are lucky, your “fighters” won’t pick on the regulars, and they won’t injure them. But fighters hang around your gym at all hours, they sweat a lot and make the place stink, they also tend to have bad personal hygiene. The don’t wash their workout clothing, their gear stinks, they leave their gear all around the gym. This is the sort of stuff that grosses out women, some of the most reliable clients a gym can have.

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Fighters also often bring with them “drama”. Imagine if you will the sort of person who decides that their “career” is going to be beating people up (and getting beaten up). Fighters are also notorious for their lack of loyalty. You’ll invest a lot of time training them, get them ready for a title or to be professional, and they will think you’re too controlling or holding them back or the grass is greener in some other gym.

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None of this has yet to account for the weekends you either close your gym or are not around to do sales because you are at a fight. It doesn’t account for the money you pay for a rental car, a night in a hotel, food, etc. And never forget, time really is money. So how much time are you spending with people who aren’t really making you money and MIGHT be obstacles to attracting and retaining the people who DO pay you money?

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All of which is to say; training fighters may be a lot of things, but it is NOT a business model

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