Dubai: Jiu-jitsu might have been born in Brazil, but the combat sport has found the perfect home in UAE where the conditions allow it to thrive and grow to great heights that the country has become the global hub of the sport. After setting the stage, UAE now aim to win more medals on the world stage and cement their position as the leaders of the sport.
“We aim to position the UAE as the leading country in the world in jiu-jitsu. The UAE has already made significant progress in achieving this goal by investing in the development of world-class athletes, coaches and academies to train our youngsters. The headquarters of the Asian and International Jiu-Jitsu Federations are based in Abu Dhabi, which played host to Jiu-Jitsu World Championships for the last three years in a row,” Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Deputy Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF), told Gulf News.
“The UAEJJF has set ambitious targets for the sport, including, hosting major international jiu-jitsu competitions, establishing world-class academies and training centres across the UAE, and supporting Emirati athletes to compete — and win — at the highest level of international competition. The nation aims to establish itself as a global leader in this sport and to inspire a new generation of athletes to take up jiu-jitsu and represent the country on the world stage,” he added.
The UAE leadership has a close affinity for the sport. President His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a constant presence at world events in Abu Dhabi and the growth of the sport could be due to the unstinting support from the UAE President.
Jiu-jitsu has been growing rapidly in the UAE over the past decade, since the jiu-jitsu federation for founded in 2012. It’s a lifestyle and a way of renovated sport for the young generation with more people than ever taking it up as a form of exercise, self-defence, and competitive sport.
“There were only 12,000 students and 14 schools when the Jiu-Jitsu School Programme started in 2009. We now have over 100,000 students across over 170 schools. In the UAE, there are now 25 clubs and training facilities, up from just one in 2009. These figures show how fast and extensively the sport has grown among the local population,” Al Dhaheri added, revealing startling statistics on the exponential growth of jiu-jitsu.
Increased access to jiu-jitsu academies and training centres, the supportive environment the UAE provides for sports and athletic activities and the parents’ growing enthusiasm to enrol their children for the sport all must have played its part in its growth.
“The UAEJJF has been instrumental in promoting jiu-jitsu among Emirati youth by hosting events and training; this has helped increase the number of Emirati jiu-jitsu athletes and raise the profile of the sport among the local population,” he said. “Overall, the growth of jiu-jitsu in the UAE has been remarkable, and the sport is expected to continue to grow in popularity in the UAE in the coming years.”
The enhanced interest for combat sports also saw 32 Emirati fighters taking part in the recent Youth MMA Championship 5 at the Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City. The one-day event featured athletes competing in different categories and is organised by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation.
Fighters from prominent UAE clubs, including Sharjah Self-Defence Sports Club, The Force Sports, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, ADMA and Wolves Zone MMA Academy clashed in an action-packed evening full of enthusiasm and intense competition.
Developing the sport
“The UAE is hosting some of the biggest events and competitions in the sport, including the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. This year’s calendar is another busy one, featuring 18 national and international jiu-jitsu competitions,” Al Dhaheri added.
“The UAE has promoted and developed jiu-jitsu as a sport both locally and internationally over the past few years. In fact, Abu Dhabi has been established as the world’s jiu-jitsu capital with an increasing number of world-class athletes emerging from the country.
As a start, the UAE jiu-jitsu team have embarked to Bangkok on Wednesday to take part in Thailand Open Grand Prix, which begins on Friday. The event marks a significant milestone in the team’s journey towards the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Mongolia and the Hangzhou Asian Games in China.
More than 200 athletes from 16 countries will be taking part in the Thailand Open Grand Prix. It will be the third international participation, out of the nine, in UAE calendar for the season, and their second participation at a Grand Prix tournament.
Enhance athletes' rediness
Mubarak Al Menhali, Director of the Technical Department at the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, who is part of the UAE delegation, said: “Our aim is to enhance the athletes’ readiness, physical condition, and ability to vie for upcoming championship titles including the World Championship in Mongolia in July and the Asian Games in China in October.”
“It is an integral part of our strategy to actively participate in tournaments that are in line with our vision. These tournaments not only enable us to assess the ongoing development of our athletes’ skills but also offer valuable experience to the young talents who are joining our national team,” he added.
The UAE team for Thailand:
Men: Theyab Alnuaimi (56kg), Omar Alsuwaidi (56kg), Sauod Alhosani (62 Kg), Khaled Alshehhi (62 Kg), Sultan Hassan (69 Kg), Mohammed Alsuwaidi (69 Kg), Sultan Jabr (69 Kg), Fahad Alhammadi (69 Kg), Mahdi Alawlaqi (77 Kg), Faraj Alawlaqi (77 Kg), Saeed Alkubaisi (85 Kg), Faisal Alketbi (94 Kg), Abdulla Alkubaisi (94 Kg), Ammar Alhosani (94 Kg) And Hazza Farhan (94 Kg).
Women: Balqis Abdul Karim and Aisha Al Shamsi (45kg), Hamda Al Shukaili and Sarah Shams Al Hammadi (48kg), Hessa Al Shamsi and Asma Al Hosani (52kg), and Shamsa Al Amri (57kg). Additionally, Tattoo Al-Kalbani and Mahra Mahfouz will compete in the 63kg weight category.