Part 1: If you read the cover story of the June/July 2015 issue of Black Belt, you know who Greg Jackson is. Of course, if you’re a follower of the biggest names in MMA, you probably already knew. The reason you’re reading about him here is he’s much more than a successful MMA coach, as you can see from the comments he’s made in past interviews.
“We, as mixed martial artists, can’t be saying traditional martial arts doesn’t give us anything. In true mixed-martial-arts fashion, we need to take the best of all, and we especially need to grab the social value of traditional martial arts. It has a lot of techniques that we’re using all the time, but the social thing is a big deal. When you learn traditional martial arts, what do you think of? Respect, bowing, discipline — things that are important to the world. We need to absorb that into our culture.”
Those sentences indicate that although Greg Jackson spends much of his work week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, coaching MMA fighters like Holly Holm, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Andrei Arlovski, Diego Sanchez, Tim Kennedy, Clay Guida and Sarah Kaufman, his involvement in the martial arts is much more profound than cage fighting. Perhaps that’s why he’s investing so much time to promote his concept of MMA as a martial art. It entails taking octagon-tested techniques and tempering them with the traditional components he mentioned — respect, discipline and so on — to yield what he believes is a superior system of self-defense, one that develops the qualities the arts have pushed for centuries.
The reason Jackson sees his system as superior is the dynamic nature of self-defense. “It’s context driven, meaning that there are times when you need to be precise and accurate and there are times when you need to sacrifice some of those things to claim the initiative,” he said. “Our system of mixed martial arts, in addition to teaching techniques, also teaches you to think tactically so you can make decisions like that in real time.”
Greg Jackson’s approach is refreshing. It teaches that most MMA moves were borrowed from the traditional martial arts. It teaches that many of the moves that work in MMA are also great for self-defense while others are not so useful.
It also teaches that not all traditional techniques are still relevant for self-defense because of the way society and technology have evolved. So why not cherry-pick the best techniques of MMA and teach them in a progressive manner while reinfusing them with all those treasured intangible qualities?
Scores of schools are already on board, and more are sure to follow in their footsteps. For all that he’s done and continues to do to advance the martial arts — both traditional and mixed — Greg Jackson is Black Belt’s 2015 Instructor of the Year.
— J. Torres
Part 2: Greg Jackson Featured in New Online Course From Black Belt!
As you know from reading the first half of this post, Greg Jackson has developed a systematic approach to teaching mixed martial arts that parallels the one that’s often used in the traditional martial arts. In other words, it’s not a random sampling of techniques. It’s a progression that lays a foundation of exercises, drills and basic techniques, then adds more challenging moves. It’s all about taking time to build a skill base that makes sense within the confines of competition and self-defense.
We, the people who bring you Black Belt, managed to corral the in-demand coach in our studio, where we had a crew point three video cameras at him. After a lengthy editing session, we ended up with a polished online-education program we’re calling the Greg Jackson Mixed Martial Arts Core Curriculum.
The advantages associated with this set of streaming-video lessons are several. First, every video features Jackson, the talented coach who’s trained Holly Holm, Jon Jones, Tim Kennedy, Rashad Evans, Frank Mir, Keith Jardine and Clay Guida, to name a few.
Second, the course uses 21st-century digital technology to beam the lessons to your smartphone, tablet or computer. That means you can learn new techniques or review the ones you already know anytime and anyplace. There are no VCRs or DVD players to lug around and no tapes or discs to keep track of. As long as you have your digital device and an Internet connection, you’re ready to throw down.
— Robert W. Young
(Studio Photos by Ian Spanier)