Tuesday, August 5, 2008


A group of fighters have decided to leave the gym and open their own gym. Their gripes about MAMA is that the gym owner wants them to pay monthly dues, the level of commitment, skill level, and training intensity.

Their gripe about the paying of dues comes from the fact that when they fight, they give their school name. This brings in business for the gym, especially if they win. The fighter think that because they generate so much revenue for the gym they should get to train for free.
I think that this is a bogus claim. They are still using the facilities, and the gym owner needs to keep the lights on. I can't really fault the gym owner for wanting the fighters to pay. At any rate, the fighters will have to shell out more money than if they stayed at the gym just to start up their new place. Rent, equipment, and utilities for a business costs more than a typical house, so I don't see these guys paying less for training.

Level of commitment. This is a legitimate gripe. It is very difficult to find guys who are willing to consistently train the guy who has a fight coming up. Everybody has work and family obligations, and if you don't have a fight upcoming, it is difficult to go in and get your ass kicked everyday, twice a day.
Even though I concede this is a legitimate gripe, I have to say that the fighters are primarily to blame for the level of commitment at the gym. At one time, these fighters were the ones who came in every day, who inspired the others in the gym, and who set the level of commitment. Then, when they achieved a level of fame, they left our gym to do training camps at other places. The level of commitment went down in the overall gym, because that motivating force was no longer there.

Skill level. You must recruit new money for your business to survive. In the Martial Arts world that means new people at the gym. New people means that you have guys there who can't fight to save their lives. The more new people, the healthier the gym, but it also means that your skilled people are spending more time teaching and not training. Again, everybody has work and family obligations, most people have to choose between training and teaching.
They will find this true at whatever gym they start. The gym will stagnate and die if they keep the same people, so they have to recruit new blood. Same dance, different floor.

Training intensity. Training intensity is a tightrope that all gyms have to walk. The serious fighters will want the intensity to be as high as possible to match what they see in the cage/ring/mat. Unfortunately, to keep the doors open you cannot scare your new people away, and you have to keep your regulars healthy. If you beat the holy hell out of your new people every time, eventually even the toughest and stupidest new people will find a place where they can grow and learn.

I understand why the guys are leaving, but I don't see how they can make their gym any different from MAMA. They will have to make the same compromises to keep the doors open as any other gym. Even if they structure their class schedule so that they can have intense competition team work outs, they still need a dedicated, paid, few to teach the classes that keep the doors open.


Daniel said...

Has Aaron tried an 'advanced' or 'invite only' training sessions to keep the serious guys challanged? MAMA is a fantastic gym, I'm surprised people are leaving. The grass isn't greener on the other side, but it does have more ringworm...

Natto Ninja said...

Yep. The MMA team training is by invitation only. The only thing is that the main guys go to Oregon or Arizona for their training camps. When they come back to train no one is at the MMA team training, because everyone else has abandoned it, or it is full of new people looking more to get taught than to train.