How to lose the fight of your life

Engage in some suspension of disbelief with me for a moment… Let’s just pretend that Dana White decides he’s looking for some fresh and completely unknown talent for a new UFC reality show, and he’s taking an open casting call for fighters of any background and experience.

And let’s just say that you’re so inclined to try out for said show, which of course involves fighting in the Octagon for a place on the show.

Question: So how do you prepare?

A Tried And True Formula For Creating A Winning Fighter

Now, everyone knows the tried and true formula for success in the Octagon:

+ BJJ
+ Muay Thai
+ Boxing
+ Wrestling
+ A hell of a lot of conditioning

That’s pretty much become the standard training menu for MMA fighters the world over in the years since the UFC and other mixed martial arts organizations came of age. It’s more or less the formula that every successful fighter follows, with the exception of a few outliers like Lyoto Machida, but even he had to learn jiu-jitsu and takedown defense in order to become a successful fighter.

How To Convince Yourself To Fail

But, instead of following a tried and true formula, you say to yourself:

“Self, I know we’ve been through a lot together and you know me better than most. And, I have to square with you – I find all that jiu-jitsu, muay thai, boxing, and wrestling stuff to be distasteful and overly aggressive.

“Moreover, I don’t think my instructors would understand if I just all of a sudden started training in those other styles, and I think they’d want me to represent our art in the ring. Plus, it would be confusing for my students, and I’m afraid I’d turn them off with all that full-contact training stuff.

“And then there’s my family, I don’t want them to think poorly of me. And the other people in the community, I mean, what will they think?

“So, I think I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve always done. Yeah, I’ve pretty much convinced myself, Self… I’m not going to train like all the other winning fighters train. No sirree, I’m going to stay true to an ideal founded on faulty logic.”

That sounds like a fantastic plan, right? Ignore what all the winning fighters are doing, and instead just stick to what you know and what you’ve always done, because you find what’s been proven to work to be distasteful.

Hmmm… I don’t believe that smug feeling of superiority will do you much good when you’re laid out on the canvas. Do you?

Honestly, Is Being In Business Any Different?

Now I know that this scenario is pretty silly, and it’s even sillier to think that someone would try to become a modern MMA fighter without training in practical and efficient fighting arts that have been proven to be effective in the ring.

But, let me ask you another question:

Just why in the heck would you think that being in business would be any different?

Honestly, what makes you think you can reinvent the wheel and somehow ‘beat’ what’s been proven to work by the top martial art school owners in the country?

It boggles my mind that there are martial art school owners who would drink their own sweat if their favorite fighter did it (or that urine thing Machida does – ugh, nasty), but who won’t follow proven advice from successful martial art school owners on how to run a profitable school.

Living In Martial Arts Business Fantasy Land

So when I coach school owners and they say things like…

  • “I just can’t market my school like that, because it’s too aggressive” (but punching someone in the face isn’t – got it)
  • or “I can’t do that because my instructor/association wouldn’t approve” (and are they paying your bills?)
  • or “I don’t want to offer multiple tuition and membership options, because that’s what ‘School X’ does, and I don’t want to look like them” (so I suppose you’d rather be broke…)
  • or “There’s no way I’m doing membership upgrades, because only McDojos do that stuff” (as I roll my eyes)
  • or “I just want to teach adults” (Pro Tip: that’s the toughest market to attract and keep around)
  • or “I don’t want to offer fitness classes” (Pro Tip #2: that’s how you get adults in the door)
  • or, “I don’t have time to track my stats” (if I could slap someone through the phone, I would)
  • or, “I don’t want to offer (summer camps, birthday parties, buddy nights, women’s self-defense courses, child safety training, character development programs, fitness classes, kids classes, classes for children of a certain age, Black Belt Club classes, etc.)”

…I’m tempted to tell them that they’re living in a fantasy world, and that closing their eyes and singing Kumbaya is not an effective long-term growth strategy for their business – no more than it is an effective strategy for winning a fight.

Business Is Tough… So Either Deal With It Or Stay Out Of The Game

Business is tough, people. There are no two ways about it. And if you want to be broke…

  • Maintain the outdated notion that it’s somehow distasteful to market your school effectively (a stupid concept that’s mostly perpetuated by people who are terrible at marketing) –
  • And continue to believe that you have to compromise your morals in order to be successful (a ridiculous idea that’s mostly bandied about by people who are broke) –

Pro MMA fighters don’t have the luxury of expressing their artistic side by wasting their precious training hours practicing martial gymnastics, doing butterfly kicks and 720 aerials. Instead, they have to go in the gym and practice what works, every single day.

By the same token, you don’t have the luxury of getting sentimental about the aesthetics of being in business. Moreover, you can’t pay your rent with other people’s opinions. So, stop worrying about what other people will think, and start studying and implementing what successful school owners have been doing to succeed in business for the last few decades.

Or as an alternative, you could just go back to teaching classes of 4 or 5 people at the YMCA. There you’ll have all the freedom in the world to take on an air of superiority about how you’re not like ‘those schools’. Because when somebody else is paying the light bill, you can afford to fail all day long.

But just remember that when it’s your ass on the line, you don’t have that luxury.

2 Comments

  1. Eugene Shewchuk on December 28, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Awesome read…..Mike you are a great motivation!



  2. Pablo Zamora on November 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Great article!



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