5

LIONHEART 2016 MMA FIGHT NIGHT

LIONHEART 2016 MMA FIGHT NIGHT

On 15 July 2016, profesional and amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters came together in Dakar, Senegal in an effort to promote the world’s fastest growing sport. Local talent joined by foreign fighters from the USA, Costa Rica, France, the United Kingdom, and Thailand participated in one of the first major regulated MMA event in the small West African country. The MMA event attracted numerous professional Traditional “Laamb” Wrestlers  and several hundred local spectators who the time were exposed to modern MMA. Most fights had commentators explaining the techniques and positions over the sound system. GoorFit Fighting Championship was produced by JK&J, and promoted by Radio Live SN and 2STV media networks.

This event brought local attention 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.

 

7

LIONHEART 2016 DAKAR OPEN

LIONHEART 2016 DAKAR OPEN

The LionHeart 2016 Dakar Open is the first international and formally ran Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) tournament ever held in West Africa. Audacious BJJ practitioners representing BJJ and MMA teams in seven countries, spanning four continents, had an opportunity to face off against each other, as well as against local competitors from Senegal. The Dakar Open is set in an exotic land where an indigenous form of grappling has endured for over 600 years.

LionHeart 2016 Dakar Open Dakar Open competitions are key to the development of BJJ on the continent, particularly in West Africa, by shining a light on this newly introduced art taking root in Senegal. As a cornerstone to develop multi-dimensional mixed martial artists, BJJ is a crucial component of the Lion Heart Initiative’s
intricate scheme to introduce Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in West Africa, leading to competitive MMA circuits and economic opportunities for dedicated athletes.

 

 

2016 DAKAR OPEN results:

No-Gi Debutant
Gold: Julien Mahieux (France)
Silver: Ousmane Sagna (Senegal)
Bronze: Momar Ka (Senegal)

No-Gi Advanced
Gold: Alan Jennings (USA)
Silver: Boubacar Diallo (Senegal)
Bronze: Moustapha Diop (Morocco)

Gi White Belts
Gold: Ousmane Sagna (Senegal)
Silver: Alassane Niang (Senegal)
Bronze: Julien Mahieux (France)

Gi Blue Belts
Gold: Boubacar Diallo (Senegal)
Silver: Aziz Fouda (Senegal)
Bronze: Ashriel King (UK)

Gi Purple Belts
Gold: Lamine Diedhiou (France)
Silver: David Baker (Germany)
Bronze: Musa Conteh (Thailand)

 

 

 

11

TUFF in DAKAR ’16 by KOA Team

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.

 

8

STEADFAST in DAKAR ’15 by KOA Team

STEADFAST in DAKAR ’15 by KOA Team

KOA Team returned to West Africa for LionHeart Initiative project “Steadfast in Dakar -2015” and to organize the Dakar
2015 Open, the first formal Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) tournament in Senegal. From 28 Feb – 6 Mar 2015, Kelly Grissom and a team of BJJ instructors/coaches held open seminars, closed training sessions, and promoted two deserving African KOA BJJ blue belts. Additionally on 7 March, KOA in collaboration with LionHeart Initiative organized and executed a BJJ tournament in Senegal.

On this trip, Kelly was accompanied by his long time friend and fellow BJJ Black Belt Todd Crompton, and four of his students Anthony, Jaron, Adam, and Malick, all returning to Dakar for their second trip with the LionHeart Initiative. All four are original members of KOA Team and started training with the team when it was started in May 2010.  In 2013, Jaron, Anthony, Adam, and Malick became “plank-owners” of the LionHeart Initiative and cast member in documentary film Rollin’ in Dakar.  These guys were members of the first US team to participate in a LionHeart Initiative project and introduce BJJ to Senegal. They traveled to Dakar, Senegal, where between 2 – 10 November he participated in BJJ seminars, “flash-mob” style MMA exhibitions, trained in Laamb wrestling, and participated in a BJJ/Laamb tournament on a beach, in which he competed in a Laamb match.

Kelly Grissom holds a BJJ black belt under Leo Dalla and black belt in Judo.  A retired U.S. Marine, Kelly is the owner and BJJ head instructor of KOA Martial Arts, and a “plank-owner” in the Lion Heart Initiative.  Kelly’s impressive competitive resume includes medals at International BJJ Federation Pan Championships in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as a gold medals in the 2006 Hawaii Triple Crown and Hawaii GXL tournaments.  His Judo record includes gold medals in North Carolina State Senior Judo Championships in 1999 and 2000, as well as a gold medal at Virginia State Championships in 2001.

“With Steadfast in Dakar we went from dream to reality, but our workhas just began…” – KJ Grissom

Kelly Grissom holds a BJJ black belt under Leo Dalla and black belt in Judo.  A retired U.S. Marine, Kelly is the owner and BJJ head instructor of KOA Martial Arts, and a “plank-owner” in the Lion Heart Initiative.  Kelly’s impressive competitive resume includes medals at International BJJ Federation Pan Championships in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as a gold medals in the 2006 Hawaii Triple Crown and Hawaii GXL tournaments.  His Judo record includes gold medals in North Carolina State Senior Judo Championships in 1999 and 2000, as well as a gold medal at Virginia State Championships in 2001.

Jaron Hampton was a BJJ purple belt under Kelly Grissom. Jaron served as an assistant instructor for the KOA Juniors program (9-14 year old kids) and the KOA Keikis program (5-8 year old kids). Jaron is also the resident photographer and videographer for KOA Team; some of his videos can be seen on the KOA Team YOUTUBE channel – “Stafford BJJ”. Jaron’s BJJ style is agile and aggressive and he is a proven competitor who has brought many medals home that hang on the walls at KOA Team. He is also a veteran of the International BJJ Federation (IBJJF) Pan Championships.

Anthony Garavalia was a BJJ purple belt under Kelly Grissom.  Anthony is passionate about teaching and enjoys sharing the principles of BJJ as he continues to learn himself. He was the primary coach of the KOA Team BJJ fundamentals curriculum and he is an avid BJJ competitor. Anthony had proven his skills on the local competition circuit many times earning a number of medals and he has also competed as a blue belt at the International BJJ Federation (IBJJF) Pan Championships.Adam was a BJJ Purple belt under Kelly Grissom. Adam was the head instructor for the KOA Juniors program which focuses on children ages 9-14 and he has proven himself to be a great coach and roll model for the next generation of BJJ practitioners and competitors. Adam exemplifies the KOA Team motto of “discipline through training” by his consistent performance and hard work. Adam is an active and tenacious competitor who lives the BJJ lifestyle. He is also a veteran of the International BJJ Federation (IBJJF) Pan Championships.

                “The BJJ world should watch out, because we’re coming!” – Moustapha
Diop

Malick was a high school student and a newly promoted BJJ blue belt under Kelly Grissom.  Before joining KOA Team, Malick had begun training in Judo at the age of seven in Okinawa, Japan. In addition to BJJ, he trained in Muay Thai kickboxing with KOA Team’s Muay Thai coach, Miguel Marcano. In addition to his own training, Malick was also part of the KOA Team coaching staff as an instructor for the KOA Junior’s class where he teached children ages 9-14 the BJJ lifestyle. Malick actively competes in BJJ and submission grappling tournaments and he had not lost a single match as a juvenile competitor in over two years.

 

10

GRIZZLY’S QUEST ’15 by Mike Martelle

GRIZZLY’S QUEST ’15 by Mike Martelle

Mike Martelle a professional MMA fighter, Boxer, and BJJ Black Belt visited Senegal and accomplish his lifelong dream of
competing on every continent. Mike Martelle, owner and Head Instructor of Grizzly Gym’s in Kingston, Ontario, has a MMA
pro-record of 15-2 and also competed as a pro boxer and pro Thai boxer.

While completing his quest, Mike offered to support the LionHeart Initiative by holding open MMA and BJJ Seminars, as well as smaller BJJ training sessions with select groups. These events introduced MMA and BJJ to newcomers, and further develop the skills of relatively new BJJ practitioners in Dakar. While in Senegal, Mike trained in traditional Laamb Wrestling under the tutelage of Kairé Deux at Soumbédioune Training Center.

“LionHeart Initiative made my martial arts dream to compete on every continent come true” – Mike Martelle

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.

12

VOYAGE in MMA ’14 by Issa Seck

VOYAGE in MMA ’14 by Issa Seck

On 26 Jun and 29 June 2014, pro-MMA fighter Issac Seck led events in Dakar, Senegal under “Voyage in MMA”, a new LionHeart project to introduce full-spectrum mixed martial arts (MMA) to West Africa. Issa is a highly decorated striker, MMA fighter, and
instructor, who has a competitive record of 30-0 kickboxing and 6-1 in MMA.

Issa held a two class MMA seminar, open to all and free, at Budo Club Cité Khadim in Dakar, graciously hosted by Master Alassane Thioube. These seminars will introduce students to the history & evolution of modern MMA, rules & restrictions, and the principles of multi-dimensional combat. Demonstrations and training focused on striking in MMA,  takedowns, takedown defense, clinch fighting, use of the cage, ground-strikes, and the nuances of transitioning between striking, clinch, and ground-fighting.

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.

“Reaching the LionHeart endstate will be a hard journey, but we will travel it one project at a time because it is absolutely worth it”… – Issa Seck 

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.

9

BJJ without BORDERS ’14 by Brams Samba

BJJ without BORDERS ’14 by Brams Samba

BJJ Without Borders ’14 is a venture created and led by Ibrahima “Brams” Samb, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) practitioner with
Brazilian Top Team Canada based in Montreal. Brams joined the LionHeart team, as a partner in its initiative to develop BJJ
in Senegal.

LionHeart intends to synchronize KOA team’s efforts to develop BJJ in Senegal with Brams’ ongoing endeavors, and coordinate future events to ensure optimal engagement with newly established BJJ teams in Dakar. BJJ Without Borders 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.

13

Rollin’ in Dakar ’13 by KOA Team

Rollin’ in Dakar ’13 by KOA Team

In November 2013, KOA Martial Arts head instructor Kelly Grissom and four of his students, amateur Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA practitioners, trained and competed with local martial artists in an effort to introduce BJJ to Senegal.

“We’re not a big school, but everyday Jiu Jitsu is the spirit we took over there”- KJ Grissom

KOA Team held BJJ seminars, as well as “flash-mob” style MMA exhibitions along city streets and beaches. KOA visitors rapidly immersed themselves in the exotic and ancient martial art of Laamb wrestling. Alongside their African counterparts, they competed in both BJJ and Laamb matches during a small, yet sensational tournament held on a beach along the Atlantic coast. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor and cameraman also traveled to Senegal document the event.

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.

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