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Henry Akins
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Henry Akins

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Henry Akins is a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under Rickson Gracie and a former instructor at Rickson’s academy in California, US. Often regarded as one of the best black belts produced by the legendary Gracie, Akins’ views on the “fundamentals” of jiu jitsu and his style of coaching are revered by many in the grappling community. Henry Akins is also well known for having a more traditional stance on martial arts, not being a fan of the sport aspect of jiu jitsu, comparing it to Tae Kwon Do, as in to explain a diluted sporting format of the original martial art.

Henry Akins Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: Henry Akins

Nickname: n/a

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rickson Gracie > Henry Akins

Main Achievements:

Favorite Position/Technique: n/a

Weight Division: n/a

Team/Association: Dynamix MA

Henry Akins Biography

Henry Akins was born in Oklahoma, United States of America, starting his martial arts training in his native town, through Tae Kwon Do. In watching some of his best friends during highschool, who were wrestlers, dominate larger opponents in street fights, Akins understood that the way forward for self defence would most likely be a grappling based martial art.

In the early 1990’s Henry Akins got a hold of a VHS tape of Rickson Gracie competing in vale-tudo. He immediately got interested and finding out that the Gracie family was in California, he decided to leave everything behind and move to the west coast.

Henry sought the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in Torrence first, back in 1995. Akins had heard that Rickson was the best in the family and he wanted to train with the best. He knew Rickson had an academy and California, but when he asked Rorion the whereabouts of his brother, he was told they didn’t know anyone with that name. When interviewed by On The Mat in 2010, Akins had to say about this period:

Actually I called the Gracie Torrance Academy first as it was the only one listed, but at the time there was big rivalry between Rickson and Rorion Gracie, they had a big falling out at the time and when I asked if Rickson trained there they said “Rickson, we don’t know anyone named Rickson,” and they wouldn’t give us any information. So what happened was that my aunt had a personal trainer that trained at Rickson’s so we were able to get the number. It was kind of hard to track down, but I knew I wanted to train with Rickson because I heard he was the best of all of the Gracies so I figured if you’re going to go train you might as well train with the best. – Henry Akins

At the Rickson academy in Pico blvd, West Los Angeles, Akins met and befriended Luis Herédia who was the assistant coach. Akins would also quickly become a part of the academy’s staff as the gym’s secretary, spending up to 70 hours per week at the academy.

In 1997 Henry became the assistant instructor for Luiz Herédia’s gym at the Pacific Palisades, though he continued training at Rickson’s academy. In 2000 he also became an instructor at the Rickson Gracie academy at Wilshire blvd.

In 2004, after a training session at Rickson Gracie’s residence, Rickson awarded the black belt to Henry Akins, who that way became Rickson’s 3rd American black belt. Akins would later be hired as the head instructor at the Rickson Gracie academy, after his instructor moved back to Rio de Janeiro, a position Akins had to abandon in 2008, reportedly due to a severe injury. He would later reappear in the grappling scene as the head coach of Dynamix Martal Arts, a prime MMA academy in Los Angeles, California.

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