The final day of Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship came to a close Monday at the IPIC Arena, Zayed Sports City.
Part of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship which runs until April 22, the championship was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The second day of action saw boys aged between 10 -17 years old take to the mats of the IPIC Arena.
It followed on from the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival that all last week welcomed hundreds upon hundreds of young players through the doors of the IPIC Arena.
Here, we share with you some of the best pictures from the week-long action in the UAE capital.
Stacy Duchscherer (in blue) competes at the Abu Dhabi World Para-Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
Stacy Duchscherer will look back at his silver medal with great pride – but the experience of competing in the Abu Dhabi World Para-Jit-Jitsu Championship brought to fruition the reality that he has a future in the sport following an emotional journey of self discovery.
The Canadian, 50, has had to face the challenges of being disabled after his left leg was amputated during a work accident when he was just 20 years old. Understandably, it was an incident which left him reeling internally.
“I was pretty devastated at the time,” he recalled. “I was 20 years old and you look at it like your
morale has changed and think that I can’t do that or this. I lived like that for a while. Then you start realising that you can do all these things but you just have to look at it differently.”
He did exactly that and looked at life in a positive way. He got married and found a new love for jiu-jitsu after being introduced to the sport by his 15-year-old son Ryan (who will compete in the Abu Dhabi World Youth Cup on Monday) four years ago.
“My first impressions (of jiu-jitsu) was hell no,” he said. “There was no way I could do that. But just watching my son do it, it looked so beautiful. At first I thought everybody would be full of egos but that’s not the way it is. They (coaches) help you do it and want you to do well. They all want to make it work. It’s overwhelming and often brought me to tears because I’ve never experienced anything in my life in what I’ve done during my life so far.”
In his short career so far, he’s tested himself against some of Canada’s best but was yet to compete on the world stage until the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) came knocking, inviting Stacy to the Para-Worlds and Ryan to the Abu Dhabi World Youth Cup.
At first, Stacy was contemplating whether to make the long 17-hour flight from North America especially as the competition came 12 months after his wife Tina passed away following a battle with terminal brain cancer.
“I was still in mourning when I was asked whether I’d be interested in coming to Abu Dhabi or not,” said the
father of three. “I wasn’t eating much and I wasn’t training as much as I could. I was falling into much of a depression because of my wife’s death.
“Before she passed away, we raised enough money to send Ryan to California for the Kids Worlds. But she had a seizure and then died 11 days later. We didn’t know what was happening because we didn’t know she had cancer.
“Myself and Ryan went and he won silver in Non-Gi and Gi events. And those medals were for her. She was a huge and big figure in my life. Of course we had our ups and down as what every marriage does but I’m grateful to have the kids (Ryan, Jamie, 17 and Sheniah 23) that I have today.
“The Abu Dhabi World Para-Jiu-Jitsu couldn’t have come at a better time and my daughter (Jamie) said for us to go. We wouldn’t have been able to come here if it wasn’t for her.”
He added: “This is the World Para Jiu-Jitsu Championship and this is the biggest of them all. Abu Dhabi is so beautiful and I didn’t envisage it in my head.
“The experience of competing was such a blast. I thought I would retire from competing and just train after the championship but I’m looking forward to next year. This has pushed me to train harder and there’s no way I’m walking from it. I will continue this ride and take it wherever it takes us.”
The festival has seen many young players take part.
Young male athletes continued to show promise on day four of the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival, part of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, and spoke of the impact of the sport on their life.
For many of the youngsters, the competition is one of the last competing as a boy before they progress to the men’s division next year.
The best youth players are monitored by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation throughout the competition, offering a select group support and encouragement to develop their skills.
One of those young players is Mohammed Al Kutbi, 14, who won 3 golds medal in his category since he took up Jiu-Jitsu three years ago.
“I have been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for more than three years, and during that time I have kept training to develop my skills and physical fitness,” he said. “Today, Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival has given us the opportunity to participate at a high level and gain experiences which will help us in the future.
“I will never forget the encouragement from my friends and family during the tournament. By participating today, I have achieved my dream.
“I have won three gold medals already and now I am looking forward to the Abu Dhabi World Youth Jiu-Jitsu Championship on Sunday. I am pretty sure I can achieve good results there to also reach the podium.”
Jiu-Jitsu is currently having an impact on UAE society, helping many lead a healthier, more active lifestyle.
UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation believe that is why they have seen a growth, not only in the Championship event, but across all of their programmes.
Two players in combat.
Abdulaziz Hasn al Hamadi, 15, who also won the gold medal in his category, explained that since he took up Jiu-Jitsu two years ago the sport has changed his life.
“Jiu-Jitsu helps make people become friends and come together,” he said. “It creates strong links between fighters when you see each other at competitions like this. I want to keep fighting and eventually become a black belt and then turn professional.
“Before I started Jiu-Jitsu I was too fat. I weighed 65kg, now I weigh 52kg and am much healthier – I know about good nutrition now.
“Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to be calm and respect your opponent. Nobody loses in this sport, everybody learns something new every day.”