Jason David Frank is well-known to kids and pop culture fans as the longest-tenured Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. Many young MMA fans grew up watching him as one of the Power Rangers, and most have uttered the phrase, “It’s Morphin time!” at one point or another. But Jason’s martial arts skills go beyond stunt doubles and dummies; he’s been training martial arts very seriously since he was 12 years old. He’s started a clothing line called Jesus Didn’t Tap and even created his own form of combat fighting, called Tose Kune Do. Now 35 years old, Jason has decided to step into the world of MMA.
Jason’s main training partner is the UFC’s Melvin Guillard, who has helped to transition his martial arts game to MMA. He’s also been training with Raul Marquez former world boxing champ and BJJ coach Larry Shealy and Charles Dos Anjos. Frank has been doing all of this out of his own school, Rising Sun MMA, in anticipation of his debut in mixed martial arts. We recently spoke with Jason to find out about his feelings on his past with the Rangers, and his move to MMA.
Phil Lanides: Does your experience with the show help or hurt you?
Jason David Frank: As many fans as I have right now, if you look at the demographics of 18-34, which is the MMA demographic, I have that fan base from there. Looking at my age, a short-term career will be good for me because I will be able to give my fans what they want. I went to an anime convention recently, and they were asking me about fighting. They were all over 18 years-old. So I think there will be a lot of interest in my entrance into the sport. As long as the fights look good, I think it’ll be great.
PL: Tose Kune Do (The Way of the Fighting Fists) is your own style of fighting. Tell us about that.
JDF: I modified and adjusted [disarming] gun techniques. People don’t hold guns like they used to on the streets, so I took different moves, got away from the politics of martial arts, and came up with Tose Kune Do. We’re very serious at my gym; you have to earn your belt at my school. Bruce Lee, who created Jeet Kune Do, is an influence of mine, and I like to follow his philosophy. There are many great martial arts out there. But when the time comes, the question is whether or not you can take care of yourself and your family on the streets. That’s the real test. Jute Keen Do is the way of the intercepting fists, focused more on defense. I wanted to cut out the stuff that doesn’t work. I was doing MMA, in essence, before MMA became big. MMA is the philosophy I had in 1994 when I invented Tose Kune Do. We were doing sprawl and brawl at that time, and I’m excited to see how my fighting art will do in competitive MMA.
PL: Is it applicable to MMA?
JDF: I think so. My style was missing the ground fighting. I have my blue belt in BJJ from Gracie Baja now, but we needed to have that ground game integrated into Tose Kune Do. There was a blank there. So we added wrestling, BJJ, etc. to it. Melvin Guillard has really helped add the wrestling. I needed to get with someone who could put it all together for me.
PL: Why have you waited so long to have your first fight?
JDF: I was supposed to fight in 2007, but it fell through. In truth, I’ve wanted to put the work in until I’m ready. I know I have a target on my back. Everyone is going to want to beat up the Green Ranger. But I am no Kimbo: I’ve been training for a very long time. I wanted to get in there before, but I got injured. But I’ll be ready when the time comes.
PL: What is your ultimate goal in MMA?
JDF: Just to go out there and do my best, and prove that I’m a real fighter. I’m not looking for any titles specifically. Ultimately, I want to give my fans something to watch and be proud of.
PL: Why did you sign with Brian Butler [president] and the SuckerPunch organization?
JDF: I’ve worked with Jesus Didn’t Tap, and Brian’s been one guy that I’ve stuck with. He’s stand-up. I believe in him, I believe in his fighters. It’s a first-class operation. Being from one of the top kid’s shows of all time, I want to be with a first-class organization, and that’s SuckerPunch.
PL: Any message you want to leave for your fans?
JDF: Please support my fights, and I hope I put on a good show. It won’t be any putties or monsters at the end of my fists and feet. It’s going to be for real this time.
photos provided by Fighter Portraits