Martial Arts World News did an article about the owner of Iron Dragon, Jason White.

A Case Study from
Iron Dragon Martial Arts

Jason White has operated Iron Dragon Martial Arts since 1999, and is currently located in Houston, Texas.

Iron Dragon Martial Arts focuses on teaching Children and Adults, the art of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Taekwondo, and Muay Thai.

Currently Iron Dragon Martial Arts has roughly 140 active students.

School Description:

Iron Dragon is 3750 sq ft with a fully matted training area and a comfortable lobby for spectators. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes are taught by 2015 world champion Ed Ramos. He is an Atos black belt that competes all over the world. Taekwondo is taught by 3-time state & national champion, Jason White.

“I started martial arts in 1987. I wanted to start years earlier but my parents didn’t want to pay for it because they thought I would drop out. In January 1987 my mom decided to go back to college and my step-dad dropped me off at the local taekwondo school so he wouldn’t have to watch me.

In 1997 I started teaching out of my garage where I worked my way up to around 15 students. In 1999 I ran into my first instructor at a tournament where he told me he was selling his school. He wanted $5500 which was a ton of money to me.

I decided to sell my car to get the money. I was so excited that I finally had my own school, just to find out that the month before I took over that he told everyone they could pay off there contracts for 10% of what they owed.

So there was basically no money coming in by the time I got there. Six months later I was evicted. I couldn’t let this be the end, since I was a kid it’s always been my dream to have a martial arts school. I found a bigger place 2 blocks away but it was more expensive.

I saved every dime I could get from my day job to put down the first and last months rent. It took a couple months but we finally had a place. To my surprise very few of the old students showed up. I was heartbroken, I really thought they would follow me. A couple years later I talked to one of them and he said ‘we all felt like you wouldn’t make it so we found other places to train’. He was almost right.

Within the first couple years my house went into foreclosure. I had to file for bankruptcy to save it but I wasn’t able to stay there anymore. At 27 years old I had to rent my house out and moved back in with my mom. I was working for a delivery service where I would wake up at 5am to go to work and get off around 5pm just in time to make it to the first class at 5:30.

I’d teach till 10, get about 5 hours of sleep, and repeat it again the next day. I still wasn’t making enough to keep the school running so I started using the rent money from my house to pay the school bills instead of the mortgage. I knew that if Iron Dragon stayed open long enough we could make it but I didn’t know anything about business, as I dropped out after my first day of college.

By the age of 30 I moved back in my house just to watch it go back into foreclosure. I didn’t want to ask my mom to stay there again so I moved into the office at the school with my girlfriend and 2 kids. I was able to eventually save the house but the stress from all this lead me to getting Addison’s disease. The doctor said I was within a day or so of dying if I didn’t get treatment immediately.

I was in the hospital for a week while one of my students and a good friend of mine, Terry, ran the school. At the end of the week Terry came to the hospital and told me that there were less than 5 people the entire week. I told him that was it, I was shutting it down. I was devastated! This is where I truly feel that God had taken over.

On Monday I walked into class to tell everybody the news and there were 17 kids standing there ready to train. That was the biggest class I had ever seen! I was overwhelmed with excitement. I had just had a second chance at life and now I had a second chance to make the school work. I knew right then that we were going to make it. Since this time we’ve expanded a couple times & made huge strides on the business end of things. And I was also able to quit my day job, thank goodness.

I wouldn’t change anything (except the Addison’s, I have to deal with that for the rest of my life) it’s made me truly appreciate everything I have & not take anything for granted. All in all it took right around 5-6 years to finally start turning a profit. I guess better late than never.“

Current Rank:
Taekwondo– 4th Dan
Hapkido– 3rd Dan
Kendo– 2nd Dan
Iaido -1st Dan
Jodo– 1st Dan
Judo– Brown Belt
Jiu-Jitsu– Purple Belt

Q & A With Jason White

Q:What Are the Biggest Successes and Breakthroughs You’ve Had Growing Your School?

A: Understanding that talent didn’t bring people through the door. In the beginning I though that my tournament career would make everyone want to train with me, nobody cared!
It wasn’t about your success, it was about the success you could create in others.

Q: What Have Been Your Most Successful Marketing Systems/Strategies Over the Last 12 Months?

A: We’ve done very little marketing. I think what helps us the most is that we’re at the corner of an intersection.

Q: What Are Your Developmental Goals for the Next 5 Years?

A: To continue growing & possibly expand

Q: Biggest Challenges You Face Growing Your School:

A: We’re in a fairly low budget area.