I remember back in the early to mid 90’s we would have to travel out of state to find another good gym to train with. It didn’t matter if it was MMA, BJJ, JKD, Muay Thai or any other style; as long as they were tough and actually had some real training, knew how to fight, they were cool with us.
But today the sport is growing and it’s viewed more and more as a money maker. Every gym has an MMA program; it doesn’t matter if the instructors have ever fought or trained under someone who has any experience. It doesn’t matter if the instructor knows what he’s doing, all he has to do is convince a few guys that he does and you have yourself an instant “retired” pro fighter that no one has ever heard of.
I think the UFC has done a great job of making MMA an accepted sport but in the process of all the success The Ultimate Fighter has brought on we are now seeing garage gyms, instant instructors, Karate guys who sale themselves as MMA coaches, and/or 0-1 amateurs – all running gyms as experts. If you are bald and covered with tattoos you are the most qualified coach or badass MMA fighter in your town.
I must have a dozen guys walk into my gym, SSF Submission Academy (www.mmaclarksville.com) in Clarksville, Tenn., and tell me their old instructor was a pro fighter or a black belt in this style or that each week. Then when it comes down to training, these guys have absolutely no conditioning and no skills other the maybe a straight armbar or maybe a double wrist lock (which normally they are doing wrong).
But try to tell them their technique is wrong or they need to work on their cardio, or standing in front of someone and trading blows at full force for 30 seconds doesn’t make them a good fighter, that rather it actually makes them a target for a good fighter and they become visibly upset and start to defend the idiot they have been training under for the last couple of years.
They don’t seem to grasp that they wasted two or three years with some wannabe and are now getting their asses handed to them by a 0-0 guy that has been training in a real gym for just six months.
Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and admit that you were wrong and don’t know as much as you thought. That maybe the “enemy” gym on the other side of town is better. That maybe the stuff you’ve been hearing about your coach being a fake, a fraud, a cheat, a crook, a never was, a wannabe, a liar… Maybe, just maybe you’re hearing this about your coach because he is all that.
You have to research a gym and see who they have developed over the years, not who they stole or paid to come to their gym. Look and see which gym the pros stop by to visit when they are in town. Which gym takes their fighters to the highest level of competition? Which gym has the better facilities, coaches, managers, trainers and contacts?
Having just one of those qualities isn’t enough, hell having two isn’t enough. Research your gym and then research their gym. Research your trainer and then research their trainer. Go on, Google it. I promise the results will speak for themselves.