Al Ahli Club has announced the launch of their new jiu-jitsu programme with the aim of creating a talent pool for the UAE national team.
The club opens today for children and adults of all ages who will be taught by a professional coach who has moved from Brazil to Dubai to help train the next generation.
While jiu-jitsu is popular across the country and in various high profile sports clubs, the majority of these clubs are based in Abu Dhabi, with Al Wasl the only club in Dubai that offers jiu-jitsu lessons.
Al Ahli now join other high profile football clubs such as Al Ain, Al Wahda, Bani Yas, Al Dhafra, Emirates Club and Al Jazira in offering jiu-jitsu coaching.
Announced at the Rashid Stadium on Sunday by club CEO Ahmad Khalifa in the presence of UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation representative Joseph Al Batran, Al Ahli are hoping to immediately compete for championship honours at the regional and local levels.
“The game is of great interest among young people in the UAE,” said Khalifa. “Thanks to the unlimited support of the country’s leadership, jiu-jitsu is a popular game with the youth here and the activities at the club will be in collaboration with the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.
“We look forward in the future to seeing Al Ahli teams competing in tournaments both inside the country and outside, winning medals and seeing players climb the podium and represent the UAE on the international stage.
“We will be developing a plan and strategy to get the most out of the men and women that come to the club, and like other sports within Al Ahli, we will be well supported.”
The UAE currently has a substantial 32,000 registered people practicing jiu-jitsu across the country, according to Al Batran, and with the sport likely soon to become part of the Olympic agenda, the federation has an eye on making a difference on the biggest stage of all.
“We want to have players ready for when it becomes an Olympic sport,” Al Batran told Sport360°. “There is an international competition in April where we will be able to have a good look at the talent.
“They will be able to come to Al Ahli and hopefully the idea will spread across Dubai.
“We want to have players who are talented then nurture that talent so we have players serving the national team.
“The federation will give players to the clubs who will take care of them and help them.
“We have the talent, we just need the club to look after them so we can have a strong nat-ional team,” added Al Batran.
The UAE claimed three gold medals on the third day of the Abu Dhabi Jiu Jitsu Cup yesterday – but it was the Russians who dominated, winning 12 of the 17 No-Gi categories.
The UAE’s Abdulrahman Al Tamimi won the 62kg blue belt division, while Abdulwahab Jasem Al Hosani overcame compatriot Mohammed Salem Al Shami in the 98kg white division. Mohammed Hamad was champion in the Masters 80kg blue division.
The triumph for Al Tamimi was impressive, especially as the 17-year-old is still at school.
“I know I can do well in Jiu Jitsu but it is tough as I have to concentrate on my studies also,” said the Emirati. “I didn’t take part in any tournaments last year as I was focusing on my studies.
“I just don’t want my school work to be affected as my parents have been very supportive in whatever I do. I will keep myself out now for five to six months and then come back again,” added Al Tamimi.
When asked about whether he is still interested in taking part in the world championship in the UAE capital in April, the Emirati, replied: “Yes, world championship participation is very much on my agenda and hopefully I can carry this form.”
The final day of the competition is today at First Gulf Bank Arena
If you have nothing planned for the next three days then you may want to consider attending the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Cup tournament at First Gulf Bank Arena, Zayed Sports City.
You probably have never watched or even heard of the sport. But it’s proving to be very popular and with more than 1,500 contestants from white to black belts in the UAE capital, the popularity of the sport speaks for itself.
Jiu-Jitsu is a combat sport and martial art that focuses on ground fighting, minimum power and maximum technique to beat your competitor.
The word Jiu-Jitsu is a combination of two Japanese words, Jiu and Jitsu. The combined word means the ‘Gentle Art’. Started more than 250 decades ago in Asia, the sport is now popular in many countries around the world.
Today, the trend has continued and the first day of the Abu Dhabi Jiu Jitsu Cup tournament on Wednesday attracted a great number of spectators with 600 contestants competing in the boy’s 10-12 age group.
The attendance numbers will surely increase for the next three days with the juniors, ladies and men’s titles up for grabs.
Entrance is free for all spectators and there are prizes to win so apart from watching the grappling sport, that’s another reason to attend.
For instance, UAE’s Zayed Saleh Al Kurbi won a bronze medal in the Yellow/Orange 38.5kg weight division. “I started only last year and someday I want to turn professional,” the 14-year-old said.
“There are a lot of boys in training and they all enjoy the sport because it is given a lot of prominence,” he added.
Al Kurbi’s success will be one of many as today more than 200 contestants will be in action in various boys and girls categories.
Friday will see 180 contestants in the No-Gi event, which means contestants do not wear the traditional ‘kimono’ that is usually worn in the Gi category. The strategy behind No-Gi will see contestants trying to control an opponent by gripping the body’s natural handles: the neck, the wrist, the elbow, the knee or the hips with the aim of scoring points, rather than using the grip of the ‘kimono’.
On Saturday, you will be able to witness the main Gi event where 260 entries are already confirmed including four Emiratis with a total cash prize of $10,000 (Dh37,000).
For the first time a competition will be staged at the First Gulf Bank Arena which is perfect venue for the tournament. Fahad Ali, the chief executive of the UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation, said: “We are trying to improve the facilities all round because of the remarkable increase in the number of participants.”
“The numbers have kept increasing every passing year and we are inundated with the demand for more competitions. The sport is fast spreading across the Middle East and now enjoying popularity all over Asia.
“This competition alone has drawn more than 1,000 school children, both Emiratis and expatriates. This is the result of the sport being included in the curriculum of the local schools. So, good times are ahead for the sport,” he added.
“We want to encourage people to come and watch and while they enjoy the action on the mat, they can also win valuable prizes from the raffles drawn on the free entry tickets over all four days,” he said.
If you want to see some fun grappling action, come along to the First Gulf Bank Arena (adjoining the Abu Dhabi international tennis complex) with your family and friends.
You never know but you may want to give the sport a try after attending!
Thursday’s action commences at 11.00, while Friday begins at 15:00. Saturday’s matches starts 11:00.
WHAT: Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Tournament.
WHEN: Now until Saturday. Thursday starts at11:00, Friday begins at 15:00 and Saturday at 11:00.
COST: Free entry for spectators.
Sport360 VERDICT: The tournament will see a variety of people competing from different nationalities and ages. It’s the fourth time the championship has been held and spectators will enjoy the entertaining matches.