Following a banner year filled with ‘coach of the year’ accolades there was shock and awe on Wednesday when it was announced that Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig would be exiting Team Alpha Male and moving back to his home state of Colorado in late May.
During his time with the team, Ludwig helped produce a huge improvement in the Sacramento based squad with an undefeated record through his first nine months as coach and leading them to two title fights in the last three months.
Success doesn’t always breed happiness, however, and Ludwig recently decided that his heart was back in Colorado where he could focus on family and start building his own brand. A big part of the decision according to Ludwig came down to starting his own gym dubbed ‘Ludwig Martial Arts’ back in his hometown of Arvada, Colorado.
"I’m going to bounce back to the homeland of Arvada, Colorado and open up my own academy and business. It’s just time for me to make the next evolution of my career as a martial artist and it’s just what I feel I need to do. Sacramento’s not home, Colorado’s home and I need to get my family back to their family and just do what’s right," Ludwig told FOX Sports. "The team, I love it here, I love the guys, but I’m very, very busy and I don’t mind settling down and opening my own business and work for myself more than somebody else. I’ve been working for other people since I was 15 and it’s time to move on and do it for myself."
I’ve been working for other people since I was 15 and it’s time to move on and do it for myself
— Duane Ludwig
Now the first reaction to Ludwig’s move might be to think he’s starting a competitive MMA fight team that could one day rival the work he did with Team Alpha Male, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ludwig loves coaching and teaching MMA to the best fighters in the world, but he said financially it’s not an easy way to make a living as an instructor.
Because of the pay scale in MMA, Ludwig says the only way to actually provide an income as a coach is to work with a high level team like Team Alpha Male. Otherwise, there’s just no real financial windfall from starting a MMA team.
"I’m not looking to have a fight team," Ludwig said. If you’re not coaching Team Alpha Male and some high level guys like this, then you’re not going to make a living as a coach because the fighters don’t make much in MMA. The sad truth of the industry.
"So I’m best at coaching competitive mixed martial artists, but that doesn’t pay the bills. What pays the bills is having a good student base of having 200 to 300 students in your academy. That’s what I’m looking to do. Maybe I’m getting soft in my older age now, but I’m not feeling the whole fight game as much as I used to. I’m more about helping other people learn martial arts, helping them become better people and leading by example."
Ludwig will stay on with the Sacramento team through the end of April to help the fighters in their upcoming camps before officially relocating back to Colorado to start his own gym.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but Ludwig says it’s always been his plan to eventually go back home and work for himself. He hopes to continue working with some of the fighters from Team Alpha Male in future fight camps or even bringing them out to his new gym and work in the thin Colorado air.
"We’re still on good terms, I’m still going to come out and they’re still going to be an affiliate of mine. I’ll still come out and do training camps for them and offer for them to come to Colorado and get some altitude of course. So we’ll still be networking back and forth, but I can no longer do it full time. I don’t want to do it full time," Ludwig said.
Ludwig will wrap up his coaching stint with the fighters at Team Alpha Male while they begin the search for a new head coach to start after he exits. The plan is to find someone to fill the role so they can immediately jump in after he leaves and the team won’t skip a beat.
Meanwhile, Ludwig is content with starting a new life back at home and moving on from the spotlight of big time MMA so he can focus on family and the little things in life that mean more to him.
"It’s an interesting life, it’s a busy life," Ludwig said. "But I’m a family man first."