Interview: Jason David Frank

“People always ask me if I feel a lot of pressure fighting because I’m a Power Ranger.  I don’t feel like I do. I feel like the guy I’m fighting does.  If he gets beaten up by the Green Ranger, it’s worse for him.  If he beats up the Green Ranger, all the kids are going to hate him.  So, he can’t win.”

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Jason David Frank

Interview and Photos by: Barry Laminack

Let’s get this out of the way now, yes, Jason David Frank is a Power Ranger. No, he won’t have any special Power Ranger secretes to help him in the cage.  What he will have is over 20 years of Martial Arts experience and a thunderous kick that leaves his trainer’s arms swollen from holding pads.

I have to admit that I thought Jason was going to act like the stereotypical Hollywood star.  You know the kind, full of them self, and extremely arrogant.  To my surprise, he was anything but.

From the moment I met him, I got the feeling that Jason is just a regular guy, and he wants to be treated that way.  He’s not looking for anybody to kiss his ass or be a yes man.  All he really wants is for people to accept him as an accomplished Mixed Martial Artist with a passion for fighting.

I caught up with Jason at his gym as he trained for his upcoming fight against Jonathan Mack. The bout is scheduled to take place at Lonestar Beatdown on January 30th, 2010 at the Arena Theater.

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TCD.net: You have had fame as a TV star and you are a well respected Hall OF Fame Martial Artist with successful schools. Why are you getting into MMA?

Jason:  I do it for my brother.  When we were 18, we both wanted to fight.  This is my passion, and I just like it.  I read an article about Forrest [Griffin], and he said he just liked getting in the cage and smashing people in the face, and I was like, “œyeah, me too”.

My heart is in the right place.  When I’m in the ring, I’m in the right zone.  I don’t need the money. It isn’t about money.  I feel if you are a teacher in MMA or have a Karate school, at least you should know what it’s like to brawl and know what does work and what doesn’t.

I’ve been out there.  I’ve fought in Los Angeles and I’ve had some smoker fights.  I just think it’s important when you are teaching that you should know what you are doing.

TCD.net: Do you think that your status as a TV star is an advantage or a disadvantage for you?

Jason: You know, I used to think it was a negative before, but I’ve got to be honest, a lot of the fighters I work with are younger.  Guys like Yves Edwards and Todd Moore.

At the HDNet fights, I sponsored 4 guys, really big fighters.  I went into the locker room, and this is what I THOUGHT they said, “œDo you know how many people in this room wanted to beat you up at one point?”

I was thinking, “œDude, I’m sponsoring you.  I’m about to pull my money out.”   So I went outside and I asked somebody, “œWhat did he say?” and the guy told me, “œHe said, do you know how many people wanted to BE you at one point, not beat you up.”

The whole time I was thinking, “œMan what did I do to these guys?” [Laughs]

These guys treat me really nice.  I think they have grown up past the point of the whole Power Rangers is too cool thing.

The negative side is, “œOh, he’s the Green Ranger. If he fights someone, is the guy going to spark?”

It’s like, WHAT?  Should I fight this guy and be like “œSpark! C’mon! He didn’t spark.  What should I do?” [Laughs]

All talk is good talk.  Sometimes you just have to let it roll off your shoulder, but it’s hard to do that sometimes you know.  I don’t like to read the internet.  I just try and focus on the work and focus on my business.  I’m just doing it for my fans, so they have something to watch.

People always ask me if I feel a lot of pressure fighting because I’m a Power Ranger.  I don’t feel like I do. I feel like the guy I’m fighting does.  If he gets beaten up by the Green Ranger, it’s worse for him.  If he beats up the Green Ranger, all the kids are going to hate him.  So, he can’t win. [Laughs]

TCD.net: Do you feel that your late start in MMA will keep you from reaching your goals in the sport?

Jason: I don’t think so.  I’ve been in stand up fighting my whole life.  When it comes to wrestling and Jiu-jitsu, I have people that I’m working with.

I try and focus on hooking up with certain people and putting the different elements together.  For instance, I’ve got stand up, then there is blank, and then the ground.  I’ve got Jiu-Jitsu.  I’m a 2 strip blue belt under Gracie Barra’s (in Jacksonville, FL) Larry Shealy and Chris Deangelos.  Then, there is that blank spot in between stand up and jiu-jitsu wrestling.   I’ve been working with Melvin Guillard, Rocky Long and Casey Hobson.  Casey has some real good wrestling. I’ve been really working the wrestling defenses and takedowns.

Besides, look how old Randy Couture is.  He’s still in the rings banging, and I know he got a late start to his career.  I haven’t had a lot of damage or a lot of punches to my head.  I’m ready.  I’m a good stand up fight, and I’m ready.  I’m just doing this to have fun.

TCD.net: What brought you to Houston?

Jason: I met my wife.  She brought me here [to Houston].  I moved out here for her.  I don’t have too much family in California.  My brother passed away, and he was my closest friend at the time.

I moved here so Jenna could have a family.  I think family is important.  That’s why I like working with a team like Patrick [Hutton] and Casey.  It’s more than just a fight team.  Loyalty and friendship goes a long way.

When my brother died, that’s what I missed more than anything in the world, loyalty.  The ability to pick up the phone and say, “œHey, I’m in trouble.  Will you drive the white Bronco across the border for me?”

It’s that loyalty of them being there and not judging you.  Trying to find that is really hard.  That’s why I like Patrick.  He’s been my friend for a long time, ever since I’ve been here in Houston.

You know, a friend sometimes want things from you.  I mean, I can’t hook you up with a movie or anything like that.  Those are things I just can’t do, but when I do have I movie, trust me, the people who have been loyal to me will be in that movie.

The phone rings when you’re doing something, and the phone doesn’t ring when you’re not on TV or not doing something.  Right now, my phone is ringing.  “œHey, good luck in your fight” “œHey, we hear HDNet is going to be there” “œHey, we heard this…”

Well, after the fight, is my phone still going to ring?  Well, yeah, it will because I’ve got a movie coming out.

Buster Douglas is a friend of mine, and he said the same thing.  He said when he knocked out Tyson his phone was ringing off the hook.  Now, his phone hasn’t rang in years.  It’s those people who are there with you when you are down.  Like my team, I’m here for them when they are down, and they are here for me when I’m down.

TCD.net: How did Rising Sun Karate come about?

Jason: A buddy of mine, in New Jersey came from a hard core school called BKG.  It was a hard knocks school.  During the time of Power Rangers, everybody wanted to promote me.  I came across Rick Herbster, who runs a school called Rising Sun Karate.  I just kind of stepped away from the politics, got the RSK tatted on my stomach, and I said, you know I’m going to do RSK.  I tested under the BKG out there.  They got hard core, and they promoted me.

TCD.net: Have you seen an increase in enrollment at your schools since the rebirth of sorts of karate with Lyoto Machida?

Jason: That’s a good question.  You read some of these guys’ websites that say things like “œdon’t go to a karate school” or they say “œdon’t do katas”, and they are teaching MMA.  Don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t go to a school where the guy only has a little martial art experience, and they don’t have ANY martial arts experience, none at all.

Who’s the champ? Machida is.  He’s from Shotukon.  He does the same katas I do, so those guys really don’t know what they are talking about.  I think karate is important.  Now, when I say Karate I’m talking about things like Muay Tai and Kickboxing too.

If you take Karate out of MMA, you have a no respect game.  Look at GSP, he’s a real nice champion.  He comes in with his Gi and his belt.  The kids can look up to that guy.  Machida is the same way.  Kids look up to these guys, and I think it’s important that they look up to guys who have respect.

To answer the question, I think MMA period is helping.  We’re starting to get a lot more people coming through the door saying, “œI want to be an MMA champion”.

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TCD.net: How did you come about with your style Toso Kune Do?

I started it in 1994.  It means “œThe way of the fighting fist”. Back in the day it was just like UFC.  It was basically if you fall on the ground, we can punch you.  We kind of broke the rules of traditional Tae Kwon Do stuff.  It was continuous fighting.  We had a good time doing it.

Bruce Lee’s philosophy was to shorten the time span between thought and action.  My philosophy was it’s just the way of the fighting fist.  You fight, and whoever wins, wins.  The point behind that is to have different styles behind it.  Nobody really recognized it until I got covered by Black Belt Magazine.  I’m older now (36), so they refer to me as the “œfounder of Toso Kune Do”.  When I was young, nobody cared about that, they were just like, “œWHAT EVER”.

I’m not looking for it to be huge.  It’s just my own system, and I’m my own boss.  I think being free is good.

TCD.net: Is there such thing as a superior martial art?

Jason: No. I think every style has its strong points.  I think the best thing is to be well rounded.  I think the most effective style is a mixed style because every style has it’s strong points.

TCD.net: Talk a little bit about your grappling experience.

I started in Jacksonville, at Gracie Barra with Larry Sheely and Charles Deangelos.  I went out there, and I just got hooked on it.  At one point, I absolutely hated Jiu-Jitsu. I got the bug, and I really started getting into it. Larry helped get me hooked, and then I tested for my tips.  I’ve even rolled some with Travis Tooke.

I just like it.  But Jiu-Jitsu is different than MMA Jiu-Jitsu, that’s why I’ve been working with Rocky Long.  When you’re trying to pull an arm bar and somebody is smashing you in the face, it’s different.

TCD.net: How did your “œJesus Didn’t Tap“ clothing line get started?

Jason: Patrick and I started it.  We had different brands that we tried, and I got to talking about how it would be cool to somehow tie Jesus to Martial Arts.

So we sat around trying to think of something, like “œJesus didn’t quit” or something like that, and we ended up with “œJesus didn’t tap”.  I had some money to put behind it, then we just kind of hustled it.  It’s been something we’ve all been working for.

Patrick came up with some good ideas for the shirts. I came up with some designs, and then we put them out.  We’ll be a million dollar company some day.

TCD.net: Who have you been training with for this fight?

Andy Yout, Casey Hobson, Patrick Hutton, Rocky Long (and his camp out at Rocky Long MMA), Melvin Guillard some and Raul Marquez.

I think we’ve got a good camp.  The people are good, and we’ve got good trainers.  I hear those haters talking about “œMcDojo” and stuff, but I don’t know what they are talking about.  I’ve probably got more people here that are involved in martial arts that don’t have egos than the people out there saying stuff about us that do have egos.

TCD.net: What can we expect to see from your fighting style?

Jason: I’m known for my kicks.  I love my kicks and my hands, but I also like the submission too.  I was talking to Rocky [Long] the other day, and it’s just a matter of where the fight goes.  If the fight goes to the ground, I’m going to submit him.  Triangles or arm bars or whatever.  I’ve been working with Casey [Hobson] because he’s real quick.

So really, it’s where ever the fight takes place.  If I kick him in the head and he drops, then it’s going to be ground and pound.  If he takes me to the ground, then it’s going to be a Jiu_Jitsu submission.  I’m prepared to go in all different areas of the fight.  I’m calm, I’m relaxed, and I’m confident I’m going to win this fight.

TCD.net: What do you know about your opponent Jonathan Mack?

Jason: Nothing really.  I don’t know too much.  I hear he’s going to stand and bang.  I’m not too worried. My mind is so on other things right now. I’m not worried about it. I’ve sparred a lot of good people. I’m ready to just go in there and fight.  I’m not worried about this.

TCD.net: Anything you would like to say to him?

Jason: No.  I’m a good sport.  Thanks for taking the fight.  This is just a stepping stone for me.

TCD.net: Prediction?

Jason: This fight will end in the first round.

TCD.net: Anyone you would like to thank?

Jason: I’d like to thank all my training partners and Jesus Didn’t Tap.  I’m really fighting for them.  I’d also like to thank MMA Overload, MMA Warehouse, Performance MMA and On The Matt .  I’m putting them on my shirts as a token of appreciation because they carry the Jesus Didn’t Tap line.

I’ve also got a small group of people rooting for me in California, so I’d like to thank them too.

Every fight I do I dedicate to my brother, Eric Ray Frank, so this one is for him.

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