A Lesson in Futility
So, you became interested in martial arts at an early age. You’ve sought out a qualified instructor at a nearby school and proceeded to take enough training there until you’ve finally received your Black Belt or its equivalent. Over the years, your passion for the arts has become strong enough for you to decide to open up a school of your very own. However, success may not be as easy as you’d wished…
Making a truly comfortable living in martial arts can be difficult.
It is often said that a greater percentage of martial arts school owners can barely make enough monthly profit in order to keep their schools open. Those that can meet the quota are often the type of schools that many purists critically refer to as a McDOJO, the sort of gyms that tend to over charge their students while attempting to trap them into outrageously long-term payment contracts, cleverly including additional subtle peripheral charges to each students’ monthly fees. A McDOJO is indeed operated like a machine with only one clear goal in mind; to make money. Usually, this is done without as much regard for the overall quality of the martial arts information that is being imparted to its students. This type of school may be viewed as an assembly line, churning out its product for the general consumer to readily devour like a cheap hamburger.
Why do so many students start, and then quickly discontinue their training?
Is it in our human nature to be fickle? It seems to me that many individuals may be subconsciously seeking instant gratification; from the outside a beginner tends to see martial arts as some sort of glamorous means of gaining more confidence or self esteem, which they initially think can be bought through martial arts. Once they become involved in training and learn that it takes a lot of hard work, they often drop out and seek another easier avenue.
This lack of true devotion frustrates most gym owners. A scenario where a gym only gains one new student a month for every two or three lost raises an owners stress level to a boiling point. At this rate, his gym’s doors will certainly be closed within too short of a time for it to gain a foothold! This happens in abundance amid most traditional martial arts schools in America.
It has also been reported that most of the top MMA fighters, seemingly successful combatants who’ve been seen fighting in octagons on T.V., rarely make the type of money one might expect and are often forced to continue maintaining day jobs in order to survive. These fighters may only be allowed to fight a few times a year by the State Athletic Commission, which also holds back the big money they’re striving towards.
Even the majority of fairly well known martial arts actors and stuntmen have difficulties finding enough consistent film work to help pay their bills. There just aren’t enough martial arts films being made to support that entire community.
So, you may be asking yourself; “Why is this so? Why do so many people fail so miserably at it?”
Much of it has to do with demographics among the world’s population. You see, there actually still is only a very small percentage of the public that become involved in martial arts training. In fact, it may be true that over 80% of the individuals that begin their training in martial arts will likely discontinue within the first year, for various reasons. The remaining 20% may yield only half who will continue training another for at least another five years, while the rest might actually become life long students of martial arts, providing they can continue to afford training or perhaps if they can remain injury free and physically able to continually pursue it.
Many industry leaders who’ve struggled for years to achieve a limited amount of success making a living in martial arts; whether they be gym owners, action movie actors or stuntmen, may advise newcomers with high aspirations to wisely choose another career or find a reasonable fallback source of income for sensible financial reasons…rather than learning a hard lesson in futility.