Gyms Around The World: AKA

Evolve Vacation introduces a new series called, “Gyms Around The World!” With this new series, we will introduce you to the world’s top martial arts schools in every country.

Established in 1985, The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) is one of the pioneering MMA schools in the U.S. With lessons in kickboxing, Muay Thai, MMA, boxing, jiu-jitsu, as well as conditioning classes for both adults and children, you’ll definitely find something you enjoy. Psst! AKA is also home to UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier and former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold, among others! Besides that, it was also named Gym of the Year in 2015.

Want to find out more about AKA? Today, Evolve Vacation speaks to former World Champion Kickboxer and founder of AKA, Javier Mendez.


How did you get involved in martial arts?

I got involved in martial arts for self-defense.


What’s your favorite thing about martial arts?

My favorite part about martial arts is that you can learn from everyone.


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your martial arts career?

My biggest challenge has been keeping my team together for a long time. We have been together since late 90’s and we are still together till now.


What do you consider your biggest martial arts accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment was winning two World Championships in Kickboxing.


What do you believe are the main benefits of training martial arts?

If you truly train properly in martial arts, it will become a way of life for you.


When and why did you start AKA?

In 1985, I started AKA in Jim and Sandy Armetta’s business called Capitol Glass Shop. I started it because there was a growing demand for what I was teaching.


What’s your favorite thing about running a martial arts gym?

My favorite part of running a martial arts gym is the friends you acquire and the happiness you create for your students. At AKA, my team is really like a family, and that makes me really proud.


What’s the hardest part about running a martial arts gym?

The hardest part about running a gym is losing any of my students, for whatever reason they decide to leave.


Who are some martial artists you admire?

Muhammad Ali is the only martial artist that I truly admire and respect.


How does your philosophy for martial arts differ from those of other instructors/coaches? 

I don’t know how my philosophy is different. I just spend every day coaching and learning about the fight world, and life.

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