Fighters in Combat Series – Brandon Gibson, by Trula Howe

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You’ve seen his face in photos and videos of the biggest stars in the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator, holding mitts or coaching from the corner.  His name is Brandon Gibson, and he is the assistant striking coach at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA.

A native New Mexican, with NM roots on both sides of his family, he grew up in theSoutheast Albuquerque.  Gibson was always interested in martial arts, even as a child, practicing on things and people. Seeing that he needed an outlet for his excess energy, his parents signed him up at Ed Erler’s Martial Arts & Karate when he was 6-years-old.  Since that time, there has not been any period of time longer than one month, in which he has not trained at one dojo or another.  Gibson’s one school sport was swimming, which he did for 3 years in high school, going to state as a senior.  He attended UNM and studied Emergency Medicine, going on to Paramedic school and obtaining his EMT license.  He worked as an EMT for a while, but after about a year, he decided the work was not for him.  When he was 20, he was given the opportunity to manage one of the City ofAlbuquerque’s pools. “It was a better path for me, and I stuck with it.”  He has worked for the City for the last fifteen years (starting that career at 15 as a lifeguard); and he is now the Division Manager for CABQ Aquatics for the City for the last 15 years.  On top of that, he was recently named Chairman of a multi-agency task force in the City ofAlbuquerque, to prevent drowning in the metro area.  The task force, organized as an educational outreach program, includes members of Albuquerque Fire Department, Albuquerque Police Department, and the Flood Control Authority.

Gibson first began training at Winkeljohn’s Kickboxing in 2005, at the invitation of Hein Smit, and he has stayed with Coach Winkeljohn ever since. In 2009, after suffering a leg fracture, he was forced to focus more on his boxing, while his leg healed.  It was right about this time, that Jackson’s Kids Coach at that time, Nick Gonzales, asked him to start working with the kids, to teach them striking.  Coaches Jackson and Winkeljohn were all for it, and that was Gibson’ first step into the world of coaching.  He taught the kids for about a year, working hand-in-hand with Gonzales, “we played well off each other.”  He took an interest in working with the amateur fighters, and Coach Winkeljohn began to teach him how to hold mitts.  He worked with amateurs like Hunter Tucker and Nick Urso (now Jackson’s professional cagefighters) and professional Travis Marx. He has progressed since then to Assistant Striking Coach, and for the last two years, has worked primarily with the professionals atJackson’s, as part of the coaching team, working on game plans “I know these guys, I’ve trained with them for years; I understand Jackson’s school system; I know the fighters, and I know their strengths.” As part of this coaching team, Gibson often travels around the world with UFC fighters like Jonny “Bones” Jones.  With so many world-class professional fighters, Coaches Jackson and Winkeljohn cannot often be with each fighter for the entire week before the fights.  That’s where Gibson steps in, keeping them sharp and working with them daily, to make sure they are in top form when they step in the cage.   “Lots of guys can draw X’s and O’s on a blackboard; but a real coach motivates and leads.  I’m sure there are good mitt guys out there, but I want to be much more than that.  I want to give my guys confidence; making them believe in themselves is what I’m about.”

Gibson views his team atJackson’s as more than coaches and fighters; he sees them as family.  First and foremost, Gibson is a family man, with a supportive wife and 3 sons, so when he is not at work or the gym, he is spending as much time as possible with his family. “It’s definitely a balance, but Colleen is beyond supportive.” Fortunately, Gibson’s wife works for the new Jackson’s facility, Jackson’s Martial Arts and Fitness Academy, where she also works out, as does the couple’s oldest son.  “I don’t care if he ever fights; I just want him to have the things that training can give him: focus, self-discipline and confidence.”