Jonathan Jackson, Uechi-ka, and Great Friend

by Mike McGee

During the summer of 1993, a tall and fit young gentleman entered Joe Guidry’s dojo in Brandon, FL. I noticed his calm demeanor and his bright smile immediately.

Jonathan had recently relocated with his family from the Northeast and was looking to get back into Uechi Ryu, the karate style he embraced when he was younger.

He began his training in Uechi Ryu with Sensei Charles Earle while living in Massachusetts in the ’70s. He told me that he also trained with Master Frank sometime in this period.

Jonathan did join Sensei Guidry’s dojo and we had some fantastic training together. “Please call me JJ,” he said one day. That began a nearly 30-year friendship. While working out with him I gradually got to know Jonathan Jackson.

JJ was the son of a minister, The Rev. David Jackson. We would sometimes talk about our faith and how it helped us through our lives. God was a guiding light for him. JJ was kind, generous, helpful, and always had kind words. One of his favorite comments was “Life is Good!!” and he meant it.

As a Certified Financial Planner, he owned Freedom America Retirement Services which helped many folks, including my wife and me, to deal with the inevitability of retirement. To this day his guidance continues to help us.

JJ “made it up the ladder” in Uechi Ryu, earning a stripe on his obi for the highly respected rank of Rokudan, 6th-degree blackbelt. We worked together closely at OMAS (Okinawan Martial Arts and Sciences) in Brandon, trading methods and guidance to our students. For a number of years, we worked out in his garage on hot summer nights enjoying each other’s company and our karate. We tested together twice as I remember, and he was the best partner, always there, always working hard. I think we did pretty well. I miss him terribly sometimes as he left us unexpectedly on February 29th, 2020.

JJ lives on in his daughters, son, and grandkids. They remember him as I do: Kind, Generous, Loving, Helpful, always available, always “JJ”.

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