But don't sell Greg Jackson short. The dude knows how to build up from the ground up. He struggled for years, sleeping at his tiny gym, surviving on one bologna sandwich a day just so he could afford to keep the lights on at his dojo. Give a guy like that a few years in Shanghai, and he'd have something to show for it.
But generally speaking, yep, if you transplanted Greg's current world class facility and instruction into Shanghai, expecting immediate financial success it would tank quickly. There are 3 reasons for that:
1. Greg Jackson's camp caters to a full stable of some of the most serious fighters in the world. Shanghai has a tiny, minuscule, negligible handful of entry level fighters at best. Any gym here trying to make money from fighters (either charging them for training, or taking of cut of their purses) is destined to fail. There is simply not enough demand for it. Money at 99% of martial arts schools is made primarily through the following: #1 kids classes. #2 adult group kickboxing classes #3 Everything else. With few exceptions, even in America, MMA is not a big money maker. It's a labor of love. If you don't love it, if you don't love your students, if you don't find fulfillment and joy in the journey regardless of the numbers coming in, then you will not survive in this industry.
2. No one here knows who Greg Jackson is. If someone like Greg opened a gym in Shanghai, then that tiny minuscule handful of fighters I talked about earlier would go there, and a few other people who lived close by, but the gym would struggle for years just as much as every other long-standing gym in town has had to.
3. No one here knows Greg Jackson personally. It's taken me nearly 5 years to actually get to the point where I can support myself and my family exclusively from what I earn training people. I attribute that to being completely transparent with people. Let them get to know me personally, honestly- who I am and what I stand for. What I can dom and what I can't.
I opened my first gym in Salt Lake City, Utah where the competition included coaches like UFC champ Jeremy Horn, a laundry list of world class BJJ black belts on every corner, and a dozen warehouse sized facilities outfitted to the teeth with the best amenities money could buy. My gym was 400 square feet, with home made heavy bags, a jury rigged sprung floor, and an old high school wrestling mat. And yet, people still came to train there to the point where we were overflowing, and producing professional fighters who stood toe to toe with and frequently beat the guys who trained at the big fancy places.
My method? Be myself. Do what I love, and love what I do. Don't try to cater to everyone. Don't bend over backwards trying to accommodate people looking for something else- instead point them in the direction of someone else who can help them find what they're looking for. People appreciate that, and frequently, they return the favor by sending their friends back to you.
And when the boss man protests methods of making the gym better, find a way to communicate instead of fighting over it. It's a process, but people are dynamic, if the idea is really good, eventually they'll start to see that.
I'm sometimes criticized for my religious beliefs, (more specifically because I really believe them instead of just going through the motions) specifically the idea of the human potential to become like God. And yet I see that core belief as my greatest strength as a coach- because my students, even (if not especially) the weakest and least skilled among them can see that I actually believe in their potential for greatness, not just in the context of sports, but in life.
Anyway, this is bordering on preachy and self aggrandizing. This post just got me thinking about all the Shanghai gyms I've worked with in the past- and what has worked, and what hasn't in terms of promoting and growing combat sports gyms in this town.