Director: Armand Rupert
Country: Senegal, USA, 27 mins
Synopsis: The Lion Heart Initiative is a non-profit endeavor to introduce, develop, and promote mixed martial arts (MMA) in West Africa. The initiative aims to introduce West African urban youth to reality-based combat sports and eventually help establish regulated competitive MMA circuits; thereby, creating local and international opportunities for underprivileged combat sports athletes to compete in the world’s fastest growing sport. MMA popularized by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championship has a worldwide fan base and is expected to surpass boxing as the world’s premier combat sport.
In collaboration with KOA Martial Arts from Stafford Virginia, Lion Heart Initiative organized its first event on African soil in November 2013. KOA Martial Arts owner Kelly Grissom, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Judo black belt, traveled to Senegal with four of his coaches to hold seminars, exhibitions, and cross-train with traditional West African Laamb wrestlers.
KOA team lived in a small house within the local community and traveled using public transportation, truly experiencing the colors, sounds, and smells of local culture, as well as the smoldering heat and many challenges of living and training in West Africa. Hundreds of martial artists and spectators attended BJJ seminars, as well as “flash mob” MMA exhibitions along city streets and beaches. KOA visitors rapidly immersed themselves in the exotic and ancient martial art of Laamb, Senegal’s national sport and most popular distraction. Alongside their African counterparts, KOA team competed in both BJJ and Laamb matches during a climactic tournament held on a beach along the Atlantic coast.
Rollin’ in Dakar (Coeur de Lion) is a film documenting KOA team’s journey and the Lion Heart vision.
Click here to buy tickets: Sunday 5th July 11am