TUFF in DAKAR ’16 by KOA Team
Tuff in Dakar held from 10 – 15 March 2016 was the third KOA/Big Brothers project in West Africa. After executing “Rollin’ in Dakar” to introduce BJJ to Senegal and “Steadfast in Dakar” in 2014, KOA Team led by Professor Kelly Grissom continued on their mission to develop BJJ in West Africa.
On this latest trip, KOA was joined by three other Black Belts, including Kenneth Brown, Scott Salb, and Chris Colley, as well as Joc a blue belt, who all selflessly gave their time, money, and energy to support the LionHeart vision. This team brought an unprecedented level of BJJ skill and experience which undoubtedly benefited Senegalese jits. The project was held in conjunction with the 2016 Dakar Open, and included seminars and focused training sessions with our Senegalese partners, as well as an exhibitions to promote the gentle art. Tuff in Dakar was documented by LionHeart partner Isaac Kesington, better known as Genghis Con, a cuttingedge filmmaker responsible for some of the best MMA docu-series on the internet.
This project contributed to the LionHeart vision to lift deserving and talented athletes from poverty by driving a long-term development of MMA in Africa with the aim of creating local and international opportunities for young athletes to excel in the world’s fastest growing sport and mainstream entertainment. A unique strength of the LionHeart Initiative is its ability to motivate volunteers and connect experienced martial artists with talented athletes in Africa. Over the years, the MMA for Africa movement, which grew out of the LionHeart Initiative, has led to dozens of volunteer instructors worldwide traveling to Africa and offering free seminars in MMA or underlying grappling and striking arts. In return, these foreign visitors are afforded a life-changing experience in training with local martial artists and being exposed to the rich culture and traditions of African communities.
While continuing short-term projects led by foreign volunteers to grow MMA and underlying martial arts (thereafter cited as MMA) in Africa, but recognizing its limitations, the LionHeart Initiative will also fund long-term MMA travelers to live and train in African communities. Concurrently, LionHeart will promote and support pan-African exchanges for African MMA fighters to travel to neighboring countries to share their skills, which represents a cost effective and sustainable long-term concept of operation. Additionally, LionHeart will help organize competitive circuits and collaborate with local promoters to hold MMA events, which will serve promote the sport locally, motivate aspiring pro-fighters, and alter the local martial arts landscape.