A guide to mixed martial arts in Albuquerque
Personally, I'm more of a lover than a fighter, but even a lover can benefit from knowing a little something about the age-old arts of self-defense—especially since my own self-defense technique simply involves running really, really fast. Let's face it, in certain situations that just isn't going to cut it.
Back in the '90s, a popular pay-per-view television program called Ultimate Fighting began to rise in popularity. The concept was simple. Masters of various martial arts styles would pair off against masters in other styles. A boxer might fight a karate guy, for example, or a Sumo wrestler might take on a tae kwon do expert. It soon became apparent, however, that if a fighter knew more than one style he could whup even more ass. In this way, mixed martial arts—sometimes called "no holds barred" or ultimate fighting—was born.
The most typical mixed martial arts combination seems to emphasize lethal doses of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, muay thai kickboxing and good ol' fashioned wrestling, but an ability to apply the principles of other martial arts is always helpful. Since Albuquerque is one of the butt-whuppin' capitals of the universe, it's not all that surprising that some of the best mixed martial artists in the world live and train right here in the Duke City. If you really want to learn how to defend yourself, you might as well learn this mixed style of fighting. It's proven itself to be the most effective self-defense method around.
2404 San Mateo Place NE
Jackson's Gaidojutsu is by far the most famous mixed martial arts studio in Albuquerque. Actually, it's become one of the most famous in the country due to the fact that it's developed a reputation for training some of the toughest mixed martial arts fighters around. Since Greg Jackson opened the studio in 1992, it's produced 11 world champions. The studio's reputation expanded even further when Spike TV ran an ultimate fighting reality show last season, and Jackson's Diego Sanchez fought his way to the finals and won.
"Diego Sanchez has become a celebrity," says Jackson. "People know who he is. We've got two other guys from the studio who are competing in the show this season."
Jackson's competitive team, however, is only a small part of the studio's business. Most of his clients are merely interested in learning how to defend themselves.
"To me," says Jackson, "the martial arts are a life skill. You have to learn how to read. You have to learn how to write. And you have to learn how to defend yourself in certain situations. Actually, it's not even just about self-defense. It's about learning how your body works, too. That's what martial arts can give you."
The studio charges $100 per month. That fee gives members unlimited access to training. Right now Jackson offers classes every day of the week, twice per day. He's even started a program for kids.
"Our regular classes are a little too violent for kids, so we've made a separate program for them. Some of the things we're showing people need to be taught in a very responsible manner. Kids might not have the life experience to understand that, so we teach them in a different way."
110 Lomas NE
Tom Vaughn, a former student of Jackson's, branched off to start his own studio back in 1998. FIT NHB also focuses on training students in mixed martial arts. "Ultimate fighting is the wave of the future," Vaughn says. "These days you've got to know a little bit of everything. The great thing about mixed martial arts is it combines all combat arts, minus the foul areas like groin strikes, head butts, eye gouging, that kind of thing."
FIT NHB boasts an 11,000-square-foot studio in downtown Albuquerque. They've got plenty of facilities and equipment, including a bag area along with weightlifting and cardio equipment. Vaughn offers two programs. For $40, you can take classes twice per week. For $65, you have unlimited access to the studio.
"It's a basic survival skill," says Vaughn. "It's insurance, like any life skill. You hope you never need it, but if you do, it's there for you. It could save your life. I feel like it's something everybody should learn at some point in their lives."
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy
1504 San Pedro NE
Alberto Crane is the 2002 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champ. He's also a winner of the King of the Cage mixed martial arts championship and has nabbed several other titles as well.
The King of the Cage match was Crane's first experience with mixed martial arts competition. "I had been studying and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for about 10 years," he says. "I wanted to put it to the test and see for myself if the stuff really works. And it did!
Crane has operated his Santa Fe Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy for the past five years. He just recently opened a branch here in Albuquerque. Fees start at $129 per month. For details, call the number above.