BLACKOUT for DAKAR ’17 by Bacar “Blackout” Baldé
French pro-MMA fighter Bacar “Blackout” Baldé returns to Dakar, Senegal where he offered on exclusive MMA seminar free and open to the public. This gave the French champion a chance to reconnect with aspiring mixed martial artists affiliated with the LionHeart Initiative in Senegal.
Bacar is a true MMA activist who uses his skills and notoriety as means to effect social change and empower. Beyond sharing MMA with local martial artists, Bacar had a chance to also experience traditional Laamb wrestling as part of his LionHeart project. Bacar has a deep personal connections with West Africa, and never misses an opportunity to visit and support its development. In this vein, he held one of the most comprehensive MMA seminars held in Senegal. While on vacation and injured from a severely broken hand, Bacar still manages to cover every dimension of modern MMA during this free seminar open to all in Dakar. On a highly observed religious holiday, the event organized by Professor Dame Seck still attracted three dozen aspiring MMA fighters and local martial artists. Bacar led training ranging from striking, clinch, and ground fighting. Complimenting the training of many of the martial artists in attendance whose strength is mostly in one dimension or another; however, several of the students in attendance are actively competing in MMA events organized by Dame Seck in Dakar. The event following this seminar was scheduled for 18 November 2018. The fighters fortunate enough to have caught this training session undoubtedly learned crucial skills to apply during the tournament, as well as future events in which they will challenge themselves. As MMA has begun to grow in Senegal, increased interest for the sport will undoubtedly boost its standing in Senegalese society which appreciates combat sports more than any other form of entertainment. Senegal is one of the few countries in the world where a martial art is the national sport. Senegal’s national sport and by far the its peoples favorite form of entertainment is a traditional form of wrestling known locally as Laamb, which includes strikes in competitions has reportedly been practiced in region since the 14th century.
This project contributed to 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.