The UAE national team will step up their preparations for next year’s Asian Games by competing in multiple competitions after the new season calander was announced by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) yesterday.
The sport makes its debut in the Indonesia showpiece event a year from now, and with the UAEJJF wanting to make a big impression in Jakarta, they are leaving nothing to chance for their best fighters.
They have been entered in four global tournaments beginning with next week’s Asian Championships (August 11-13) in Vietnam, with their last event at November’s World Beach Championship in Colombia.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Slams in Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, London and Abu Dhabi will also serve as preparation, and Fahad Al Shamsi, CEO of the UAEJJF, believes the number of tournaments will only aid the national team.
“We are giving full attention to our local events but, as a federation, we are also focused on our national team, because we have more than seven championships coming up this season,” said Al Shamsi, speaking at the calendar launch at Abu Dhabi’s Ritz Carlton Hotel.
“All these championships will be good preparation for the national team ahead of the Asian Games. We give a lot of opportunities for our young players with the aim to build a strong team behind our senior team.”
When it comes to jiu-jitsu in Ireland, then there’s no name more synonymous than Chris Bowe.
With more than a decade of experience under his belt, the 32-year-old black belt competitor has made a name for himself in his native homeland and it’s not just down to his medal collection.
While his trophy cabinet includes multiple World and European Championship medals, as well as his first silver (110kg) at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (ADWPJJC) on Saturday, teaching the tricks of the game as head coach at his Gracie Barra Dublin gym remains one of his priorities.
And it’s definitely not easy considering he’s juggling life as a full-time PE teacher at Drimnagh Castle Secondary School and being a husband to wife Magba and father to their three-year-old daughter.
“I have a very forgiving wife who allows me to go straight from my work as a teacher, to my gym and teach until 11pm at night most of the time,” said the Dundrum-based grappler.
“She puts up with it all the time although I have cut down on the hours in the gym on weekends so I can spend more family time.
“Usually my family wouldn’t come to Abu Dhabi for the World-Pro but I promised them that this year I would bring them along and it was great to have their support.”
His participation at the ADWPJJC came at a perfect time for Bowe. The school was closed for the Easter holidays, presenting another chance to add to his ever-growing trophy cabinet.
A veteran of the ADWPJJC for six years, it was only a matter of time before he claimed a medal, but he admittedly surprised himself by winning silver in the 110kg final.
“To be honest, not a long of people at the school know that I’m a jiu-jitsu athlete,” he said. “I don’t tell the kids and some only find out because they’ve seen something on YouTube or Instagram. When they do ask, then that’s when I tell them. Some of them say they can still beat me but it’s good to know they are interested.”
Since opening his gym on Dundrum’s main street in 2012, it has become the hotspot for potential jiu-jitsu athletes.
“The sport is becoming more popular especially combat sports with Conor McGregor competing in UFC,” he said. “Jiu-jitsu has its place and is now becoming really popular. When I first started training jiu-jitsu, there were just three gyms where you could train in Dublin but now there around 20 in the city alone.
“What makes me more proud is that some of my students have opened their own gyms elsewhere in the UK. I encouraged them to do that and that is good for their development which enhances the profile of the sport in Ireland.
“Now I’m black belt, I’m not looking to get as many world titles as possible. I will continue taking each fight as it comes and give me best.”
You couldn’t blame Nathiely Melo De Jesus for having a big smile as she claimed gold and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) World No1 crown in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The Brazilian entered the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the top of the rankings and with nearest rival Luiza Da Costa failing to win her Brown Belt in the 62kg, she cemented the spot even before taking to the mat.
But that didn’t stop her from sealing the top prize in the black belt 90kg final. Up against compatriot Talita Nogueira, the scores remained 0-0 but Jesus made her move later on to earn a 2-0 advantage which was eventually enough to secure victory.
It was her seventh gold this campaign, her first full season as a black belt.
“I’m really happy to win not just the gold but the World No.1 title,” she said. “I really didn’t expect [to get World No.1] because it was only ten months ago that I started focusing and competing in black belt categories. It has been a great journey for me and it’s now given me more motivation to succeed in the future.”
Meanwhile, Beatriz Mesquita continued her record of being on the podium at every World Pro in Abu Dhabi since its inception in 2009.
The 26-year-old beat Tammi Musumeci of the USA to get her hands on the 62kg gold, a medal that left her thrilled.
“I fought her a couple of times and was reading her game alll time time. Every day it was like a final for me,” she said. “It was a great match and playing her before was the advantage. It really feels great to have another gold here in Abu Dhabi.”
Another Brazilian to go home with gold was Ana Talita Alencar. She won the 55kg title after beating Great Britain’s Vanessa English.
“I really cannot describe how I’m feeling right now,” she said. “I’m very happy. I was only competing in black belt for less than a year and to win in this competition is really amazing.”