By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Coleman, Navy Operational Support Center Baltimore
These are the qualities Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Grebb routinely relies on in his civilian career as both a mixed martial arts fighter and trainer. Grebb credits both his military training as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) and his time in the fleet for laying the keel that serves as the foundation of his martial arts career.
Grebb’s passion for martial arts opened the door to his Navy journey. While competing as a teenager, he found himself at an event where the USNA karate team was also competing. After seeing them in action, he was inspired to pursue a career in the Navy.
“The Sailor's Creed talks about a ‘fighting spirit,’” said Grebb. “I believe that ‘spirit’ refers to the underlying willingness to take risk and make sacrifices for what you believe in. The ‘fight’ can come in many different forms. Our Sailors at the tip of the spear exemplify that fighting spirit every day.”
According to Grebb, the continuing benefits of a martial arts practice extend far beyond just fitness and self-confidence.
“It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to train successfully,” said Grebb. “The sport will teach you something about yourself.”
While at the academy, Grebb served as the USNA karate team captain for two years. He continued to train in different disciplines while on active duty before transitioning to the Reserve. Along the way, he’s fought as a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and now co-owns two martial arts and fitness facilities where he teaches Brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, MMA and fitness classes.
Over the years, Grebb has shared his skills while teaching other Sailors during self defense and combat tactics classes. He’s also taught self-defense techniques to members of the Army, Secret Service and various law enforcement agencies.
Most notably, Grebb and his training partners recently served on the coaching staff of the USNA Brazilian jiu jitsu team, bringing his Navy martial arts journey full circle.
“My approach to MMA both as a former fighter and now, as a coach, is very clear.” said Grebb. “We want to win, and do so as efficiently and safely as possible.”
Grebb identified parallels between the goals of the Navy Reserve and the in-the-ring objectives of his civilian career, placing an emphasis on focus, determination and elimination of all distractions in the pursuit of mission accomplishment.
“The CNR said in his recent fighting instruction, ‘We are focused unambiguously on warfighting readiness. It is my number one and only priority... period,’” Grebb recited, verbatim. “That is our job, and why the Navy Reserve exists. All else is secondary.”
Grebb reiterated the importance of staying on track and keeping the goal always in sight.
“It is vitally important to keep focus on the objective,” he said. “For those of us in the world of martial arts, all the other ‘stuff’ that surrounds competition — sponsors, fans, money, etc. — is secondary to winning.”
Grebb drills at Navy Operational Support Center Baltimore and credits his flexible drill schedule for allowing him to stay local, grow his business and pursue his lifelong dream of teaching martial arts. He remains committed to serving both his community and his country while passing on techniques to improve discipline, toughness and resilience to both Sailors and civilians alike.
“The knowledge and discipline I’ve gained as a martial arts expert has helped shape my commitment,” he said. “It’s an unwavering honor to serve as an officer in the Navy Reserve.”