Jason David Frank: Morphing From Karate Master To Mixed Martial Artist

Cameron GidariCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2010


Jason David Frank wants you to be his friend.

As the Green Ranger on the show "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers," Frank was constantly in the spotlight, and he met a lot of fans along the way. The only thing is, he doesn't call them fans.

"I've got a lot of fans, but I say friends, because every time I meet a fan somewhere around the world, I don't consider them a fan, I consider them as a friend," Frank said on the Free Roll Radio Show . "I got thousands of friends around the world that I'm nice to. I've never said no to one autograph, no matter how bad of a mood I was in. I always wanted to make their day and talk to them and create friends instead of just fans."

That popularity has equated to a lot of attention for Frank lately. A sixth degree black belt in Toso Kune Do Karate, Frank will make the transition to mixed martial arts when he faces Jonathan Mack on Jan. 30 at Lonestar Beatdown, a fight that will be televised on HD Net.

At 36, Frank has continued to expand his game, training in wrestling and jiu jitsu for the last two years, earning a blue belt in Gracie Barra in the latter.

Frank stresses though, that the color of the belt he wears, be it black or blue, is not the important thing.

"When it comes to belts and rank, I don't care what belt I am, I don't care what rank I am," Frank said. "I'm proud that I've achieved high ranks through some great instructors around the world, but ultimately the mat doesn't lie. When you're out there and you're in the cage, or you're on your own floor, that doesn't lie."

As most great martial artists will tell you, a black belt is just a piece of fabric that you tie around your waist. It is what that belt symbolizes that is important.

"A black belt is what you prove to be, but also what it means in your heart," Frank said. "There's a respect factor that goes with being a black belt, and it's [being] humble and having a good heart.

Georges St. Pierre demonstrates such good sportsmanship that I want my kids to grow up and be like him. There's a lot of guys out there that show great sportsmanship."

A criticism of some martial artists, especially some with more traditional backgrounds, is that they are close-minded to other styles. Frank has taken the opposite approach as he has sought to make his game well rounded.

"I think you've got to go in there and empty your cup," Frank said. "When you're going into a jiu jitsu school and you're doing straight jits, you've got to empty your karate cup and say, 'let's roll.' As long as you can empty your cup and then eventually put it all together, you've got one big mixture of different things that will all work in different elements."

During the last few years, Frank has gone from a master to a student, but he doesn't mind.

"Going into a jiu jitsu school with no belt, a white belt, I have no problem with that at all," Frank said. "I'll be a white belt as long as I can be a white belt."

With former athletes with little to no fighting backgrounds like Herschel Walker and Jose Canseco trying their hands at MMA, it's easy to see why skeptical fans might look at Frank's fight as a cash grab, or an attempt to return to the spotlight. Frank stresses that the reason he is fighting, though, is for the love of the sport.

"I'm doing it because I love it, and I listen to a lot of fighters, if you don't love it, get out of the game," Frank said. "I just read a thing from Forrest [Griffin], and he was saying in that...now it's a job. Before, he did it just to punch someone in the face, he was excited about it. It turned into a job for him, this is not a job for me.  This is just more fun. It's not a promotional thing for myself at all, it's just something that I love to do."

That love is why Frank has spent the last few years rounding out his skills, getting submitted and taken down while trying to acquire techniques that are foreign to him. Some fighters would be content to enter a ring or cage with 30-plus years of Karate training, but Frank wants to be more than that.

"If I do it, I want to do it right," Frank said. "I don't want to go in there and have two months of jiu jitsu and one month of wrestling.  I don't want to do it half-assed."

So while Frank hears the questions and criticisms, they don't bother him. Instead, Frank has an offer for his doubters.

"You've got the haters out there, but it's ok," Frank said. "If you're an enemy, I would love for you to be a fan, because I don't like enemies."

The Free Roll Radio Show airs every Saturday at 4pm EST on Blog Talk Radio . It is hosted by Cameron Gidari and renowned MMA trainer Keith Florian. Listen live, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by searching 'mma radio blog talk.'