As the sport of mixed martial arts mushroomed in popularity, and as his stature within the sport paralleled that growth, Greg Jackson’s figurative dance card has spilled over the edges.
As a consequence, Jackson, one half of the leadership with Mike Winkeljohn at Albuquerque’s prestigious Jackson-Wink MMA Academy, no longer offers private lessons in self-defense (though others at Jackson-Wink do).
For the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he’s made an exception.
At its May 6 “Wine Event & Wishes” fund-raising event at the Sid Cutter Pavilion at Balloon Fiesta Park, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is auctioning off a two-hour self-defense seminar with Jackson.
Long before he became famous for coaching MMA stars like Jon Jones, Holly Holm, Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre and Michelle Waterson, Jackson made his living teaching his Gaidojutsu form of self-defense in Albuquerque.
Initially, Jackson wasn’t even interested in competitive martial arts and had to be talked into participating. About that, he has no regrets. But now, between MMA and his work in self-defense with APD and U.S. Air Force personnel at Kirtland, there’s not much time left.
He’s happy to make time for Make-A-Wish.
Giving back to the community, Jackson said in a phone interview, is important “just because my family and all my friends that I grew up with, they’re all basically in public service their entire life. I was the guy that, I think, self-centeredly, went (to work) at a gym.
“Within those parameters, I still try to give back and be an important part of the community. … So this (venture with Make-A-Wish), I feel, helps kind of fulfill a need that I have.”
Jackson has no idea whether the winning bid will consist of one person or many, or of the level of self-defense knowledge and fitness the lucky person/people will bring to Jackson-Wink (on a date to be arranged).
No problem. Over the course of his career, Jackson has seen it all.
“That’s the nicest thing about being as experienced as I am,” he said. “I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’ve worked with individuals, groups, over and over and over again over the last 30 years. Because I’ve trained people for so long, I can pretty much tailor it to anything they need.”
Jackson said he’ll make the session fun while still making it clear that the self-defense skills he’s taught for so long can short-circuit violence and even save lives.
“For sure, I’ll tell terrible jokes and we’ll have a great time with it,” he said. “You don’t want to feel like you’re getting yelled at or are in boot camp or something.”
At some point during those two hours, though, he’ll take the participant(s) out of the gym onto the J-W parking lot, “and kind of do your total awareness assessment; how to use barricades and getting cars in the way if you’re being chased, that kind of stuff.
“Defending yourself means you’ve gotten to that part of your life where some bad things have happened and it’ll be a serious situation,” he said. “But learning and stuff doesn’t have to be crazy.”
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the fondest wishes of kids (ages 2½-18) suffering from critical illness. Often, that wish has involved meeting and spending time with a favorite athlete. For more information about MAW, the May 6 event and the Jackson self-defense auction, visit wish.org/nm.
NMAC: UNM senior associate athletic director Ed Manzanares has joined the New Mexico Athletic Commission, NMAC chairman Joe Chavez said. Manzanares joins Chavez, Las Cruces attorney Jerome O’Connell and former Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz on the commission, which regulates professional boxing and pro and amateur MMA within the state.
Chavez said De La Cruz remains on the commission while having been appointed to a vacant position in the New Mexico House of Representatives in February.
⋄ The NMAC has approved three combat-sports events to be staged during the next two months:
May 21: an amateur MMA card (FightWorld 23) in Albuquerque at FIT-NHB, 1010 Candelaria NW.
June 17: A Teresa Tapia-promoted boxing/bare knuckle card at Paradise Hills Golf Course.
June 18: A School of Hard Knocks (Isidro Castillo) boxing card at Ruidoso Downs.