AKA History

javier w belt wall printThe American Kickboxing Academy was established by Javier Mendez in 1985. Just as Mendez was starting his pro career, he held training sessions at the Capital Glass Shop during after hours with a small contingency of students. Mendez later started training at the West Coast Institute Of Tae Kwon Do facility run by Strikeforce founder, Scott Coker.

Mendez officially opened the first San Jose AKA in 1995. In 1996, after Mendez helped him improve his kickboxing, Brian Johnston became the first fighter out of AKA to enter the UFC. Frank Shamrock then joined AKA in 1997 and would be under Mendez’s tutelage all they way through to his first retirement. Soon, AKA would see more and more interest from others who, through the attention of Shamrock, were interested in greatly improving their striking. This included BJ Penn, who would go on to win his first three fights by knockout; Bobby Southworth, Josh Thomson, Mike Swick, Paul Buentello, Jon Fitch and Mike Kyle.

In 2005, Mike Swick and Bobby Southworth were picked up for a new reality TV show from the UFC called The Ultimate Fighter, which brought major exposure to the sport of MMA and the AKA team. Through the partnership of manager and trainer of Team AKA, Crazy Bob Cook, and DeWayne Zinkin; a collegiate wrestler himself, AKA saw an influx of wrestlers joining the team, notably starting with Josh Koscheck.  Eventually, the stable would grow to include Daniel Cormier and current UFC Champion, Cain Velasquez.

When long time MMA fan and former NFL star Herschel Walker decided to train full-time and become a pro MMA fighter, he went to AKA. After joining the team and attending every session, Herschel went on to win 2 consecutive pro MMA fights in the Strikeforce organization before retiring. Walker credits MMA as the world’s most difficult sport and AKA as the place to train should you choose to pursue a pro career.

In 2008 a second AKA facility was created in Sunnyvale, headed up by Bobby Southworth and Alex Khanbabian. Then in 2011, the new 27,000 square foot AKA Headquarters opened its doors, featuring weight training, a cardio facility, dedicated BJJ, MMA and Kickboxing areas, lap pool, racket ball and an onsite chiropractor and rehabilitation specialist.

Currently Team AKA consists of: Josh Thomson, Jon Fitch, Cain Velasquez, Mike Swick, Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold, Mike Kyle, Gray Maynard, Phil Baroni, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Noad Lahat, Davin Clark, Ron Keslar, Gabriel Carrasco, Tyson Griffin, Trevor Prangley, Kyle Kingsbury, Paul Buentello, Bobby Southworth, Herschel Walker, Justin Wilcox, Nate Moore, Riki Fukuda, Todd Duffee, Rich Crunkilton, Germaine de Randamie, Marius Žaromskis, Travis Johnson, Derek Yen, and Billy Evangelista.

Fighters that have previously trained at AKA include: Frank Shamrock, BJ Penn, Fedor Emelianenko, Tito Ortiz, Fujita, Ogawa, Andrei Arlovski, Phil Davis, Kid Yamamoto, Tony DeSouza, Don Frye, Takanori Gomi, Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson, Brian Ebersole, Akihiro Gono, Anthony Johnson, Josh Koscheck, Bobby Lashley, Brock Larson, Cung Le, Lyoto Machida, Sean Sherk, George Sotiropoulos, Ronaldo Souza, Miesha Tate, and Brandon Vera.