|David Jansson standing proud with his Filipino martial arts students. Photo courtesy of Camp Jansson
MANILA, Philippines - He walks around wearing a crew cut and an easy smile as he mingles with the crowd.
He is quick with the hand shake, always open for a chat. If he wasn't standing around with the guys at the ONE Asia MMA Summit, you wouldn't think he has anything to do with martial arts.
In fact, you would easily mistake David Jansson as a regular tourist.
But David had Muay Thai battles in Thailand, worked with well-known MMA fighters and founded a now famous martial arts gym in California. He now sets his sights on the Philippines as he establishes a martial arts camp comparable to Muay Thai schools in Thailand.
“I see amazing talent here in the Philippines,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com. “ Filipinos are warriors and everyone here has that warrior blood running through them.”
“Needless to say there are more Manny Pacquiao's just waiting to be world champions.”
David is currently working on setting up Camp Jansson, an eight-hectare facility in Nueva Ecija filled with a wide out door training area, four boxing rings, an octagon, over 20 heavy bags, double-end bags, uppercut boxes, among others.
The camp also has a shooting range, swimming pools, and accommodation area for incoming students.
“We are still in the process of building and will have the main training in September,” said David.
David was exposed to martial arts at an early age in Orange, California.
“It started when I'm at the age of 13. I tried boxing at 11-12 years old and then I was introduced to Richard Bustillo and Dan Inosanto, they were my first professional coach. That became an introduction to me to the Filipino culture, the Filipino martial arts,” he narrated.
He studied many martial art forms including Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do, and Kali. But Muay Thai was the art he was drawn toward.
Years later, he found his way to Thailand after getting encouragement from his Thai friend Vut Kamnark.
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“He bluntly said ‘look I see you have a passion for Muay Thai. And what you’re learning here (US) is not really Muay Thai’. I said ‘What!? How can that be I was learning from x,x,x and they are all considered to be the best here,’” he recounted.
“’Yes I know them, but what you really need is to go to the source and see the difference,’” said his friend.
In Thailand, he went to a training camp called Sityodtong where he learned authentic Muay Thai.
David said the experience was an eye-opener.
“That’s where everything I knew didn’t matter. I had learned the real deal form the moment I stepped into the camp,” he said. “Everything was done 100% differently than what I was taught in the USA.”
After going through bouts at bars in Thailand, David was set up for a real fight at a local stadium.
He engaged a local in a thrilling Muay Thai fight. He lost the fight but gained the respect of fight fans because of his gallantry and skills.
“We got a standing ovation, had people coming up to me offering me all kinds of things. The odd part was I lost that fight in points but won the crowd. I apparently did such a good job that I had three promoters wine and dine me to fight for them,” said David.
It was because of that fight that he was handed by his teacher, Master Yodtong Senanan, a certificate to help spread Muay Thai.
This led to the establishment of OC Muay Thai, which is now one of the more well-known Muay Thai camps in Orange, California.
Among his students were UFC pioneer Kimo Leopoldo, former UFC champion Josh Barnett, Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Cub Swanson, James Wilks and Cyborg Santos.
Discovering the Philippines
The first time David set foot in the Philippines was in 2007 when he helped Josh Barnett’s team prepare for the “Ring of Fire” MMA event at the Araneta Coliseum.
As soon as he got off the plane, he knew this was the place to be.
“[Manila] is world renown as the ‘Fight Capital of Asia’. It was an honor to have been to the same arena as the world famous ‘Thrilla in Manila’ was held at. I saw that fight when I was a kid on the first televised satellite fight ever. I never forgot about that and now I was standing in the same Araneta Coliseum as Ali and Frazier,” he said.
“There's so much talent in the Philippines, it's phenomenal. There's golden nugget everywhere. C'mon there's got to be more than one Pacquiao, right?”
Six years later, he was setting up a camp in Nueva Ecija that will cater to Filipinos and foreigners who want to train and compete in Southeast Asian countries.
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Aside from offering Muay Thai classes, they will also teach MMA, boxing, Filipino martial arts (FMA), yoga, boot camp fitness, and firearms courses.
In light with the Filipinos’ recent defeats in ONE FC, David said he plans to hold wrestling camps to help the locals improve their ground fighting skills.
“We will be holding MMA wrestling camps and workshops to other people and gyms so as to make the Philippines a better MMA nation,” he said.
He said Filipinos, who are known for their stand-up skills, can't afford to lag behind when it comes to ground fighting techniques that are a must for any MMA fighter.
“It’s an evolving sport. It was just Brazilian Jujitsu for the ground in the beginning. Now that wrestlers are coming in it shows how strong a wrestling base can be. And reality it’s a must-have.”