STEADFAST in DAKAR ’15 by KOA Team

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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.