Dubai welcomes some of the top jiu-jitsu fighters this weekend when not only can you witness the matches for free, but you could walk away with some fantastic prizes.
The Dubai Jiu-Jitsu Open Championship on Friday and Saturday marks the first competition of the new season for the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) with 335 fighters from around the world competing.
It’s the second straight year Dubai will host the competition following its success in the previously-launched Asian Jiu-Jitsu Open Cup.
Headlining the UAE field is Faisal Al Ketbi, who will be eyeing a podium finish when he makes his first appearance of the new season in the black belt category. The 26-year-old only made the move up from brown in May, winning gold at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship (ADWPJC), and will now be looking to improve on his fourth place finish at the Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan tournament in July.
He joins 118 Emiratis, including Eid Rehan Al Tunaiji (purple, +95kg) who will all be looking to excel at the Al Wasl Indoor Stadium.
The field includes fighters from Brazil, Jordan, Syria and the US with medals in five belts – white, blue, purple, brown and black up for grabs at the two-day event.
Friday’s action begins with the No-Gi (non-kimono), while fans will be treated to thrilling action in Saturday’s Gi (kimono) category.
The UAE has vast experience of hosting jiu-jitsu competitions, most notably with the ADWPJC which attracts some of the best jiu-jitsu fighters around the world in April each year.
With competitions planned in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah, the UAEJJF is keen to popularise the sport around the country, starting by offering the public the chance to witness the action for free.
Fahad Al Shamsi, UAEJJF CEO, said: “It’s the federation’s first event of the new season and the marketing and media departments have worked very hard to ensure it is properly organised for competitors and the spectators.
“We have some great competitors already signed up along with a big UAE team including Faisal Al Ketbi. It’s going to be an interesting and fun two days which will entertain the spectators inside the stadium.”
While the jiu-jitsu fighters eye glory in their matches, the spectators will have a chance of winning some attractive prizes in the raffle draw that will take place on each of the two days.
Al Shamsi added: “There are different prizes to be won in the free raffle draw for those who attend. The prizes are attractive products of high value.”
Al Shamsi believes it’s the perfect opportunity to make a day out of it with family and friends to witness some top-class action.
“It’s a chance to learn and understand the rules and the benefits of the sport because it’s very different to other sports. It’s a martial art so there will exciting moves made by the competitors and I am sure that people who attend will enjoy it.”
By witnessing the action, not only will your presence make a difference to the atmosphere inside the stadium, but will also help the UAEJJF in their attempt to promote the sport and attract more competitors.
Mohamed Humaid Dalmoog Al Dhaher, UAEJJF board member, said: “Our main objective is to unearth new talent and provide a good environment to enhance the quality of our champions and the champions in the making.
“The UAEJJF is striving hard to increase participation and draw new audiences to the sport all over the UAE. The federation aims to spread the sport and wants to focus on supporting young talent,” added Al Dhaher.
Legendary jiu-jitsu fighter Renzo Gracie predicts the UAE will have more world champions in the future after hailing the federation’s efforts in developing the sport.
The 47-year-old from Brazil who is a 6th degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, founded by his grandfather Carlos Gracie, was in Abu Dhabi this past week to see for himself how the sport has flourished in the capital.
During his 10-day visit, Gracie conducted workshops at schools and also addressed a seminar attended by 300 UAE jiu-jitsu fighters and coaches at the First Gulf Bank (FGB) Arena.
And Gracie, who flies back to New York today, was impressed with the UAE-Jiu Jitsu Federation’s (UJJF) vision for the sport.
He said: “The UJJF are not only promoting the sport but they are also working extremely hard to make the sport better. They have improved in many aspects in raising the profile of the game and popularising the sport to the Middle East in a very efficient way.
“The UAE is developing a lot of future world champions and we’ll see some in a few years time. I had a chance to see kids who have been training at school every day, and when they finish they go to their academy to do after-school training. That is dedication and the UJJF is going the right way in doing all they can to raise the profile of the game, starting from the grass-roots.”
Among those at the FGB Arena last Thursday was the UAE’s Faisal Al Ketbi. The 26-year-old was conferred the black belt in May, just a month after winning double gold in the 100kg and open weight categories with a brown belt at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship.
During the Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan tournament in Abu Dhabi, Al Ketbi missed out on the podium, finishing fourth in the black belt competition.But Gracie, who has his own academies in the US, Brazil, Singapore, Canada and Mexico, has backed Al Ketbi to claim gold in the black belt division.
“I’ve known him since a very early age, when he was 13 or 14, and during that time I saw him develop and become a very good competitor,” said Gracie, who regularly visits Abu Dhabi.
“He’s a very good fighter and for sure he’s a star in the Emirates. And he worked very hard to get to the top. He has very good qualities – he’s a very smart and aggressive fighter and very technical. He has a strong mind and a heavy heart, those are the qualities a fighter needs. He has so many fantastic coaches here in UAE to train with.
“It takes a lot of hours and hard work to win gold in any belt colour. There’s no such thing as an easy match in jiu-jitsu.”
Four finals remain before the Armed Forces Officers Club (AFOC) Ramadan tournament comes to a close Wednesday.
And for those who turn up for the free admission finals, will not only witness entertaining matches, but also have the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes.
AFOC, now in its 18th edition, is one of the biggest Ramadan competitions in the UAE. Held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the tournament has grown popular year-by-year.
When the tournament concludes, approximately 3,000 competitors from 45 countries around the world will have taken part in this year’s edition.
Having opened on Wednesday July 2, the competition is well under way with plenty of spectators making their way to AFOC in Abu Dhabi. Judo, ironman, taekwondo, boxing and chess have already been completed, which received a huge turnout of competitors and spectators.
For instance, more than 150 judokas from around the world including Brazil, Armenia and Russia, took part in the jiu-jitsu category that concluded on Sunday, which saw a big attendance.
Dr Musbah Al Ketbi, general co-ordinator at AFOC, said: “The attendances since the tournament began has been exceptional. All the sports so far have been of the highest quality.
“The participation has been key and we have been fortunate to have a huge number of entries across all sports, which adds more value to how big this Ramadan tournament is.
“The judo competition has been by far the most successful event in terms of competitors and spectators which isn’t a surprised considering that the sport is so huge in Abu Dhabi.”
The finals begin approximately 22:00 and depending on the schedule, ends by 01:00 the latest. Today’s schedule includes the finals of bowling, shooting and playstation. And the final event of the tournament is football tomorrow evening.
Al Ketbi says it’s a perfect opportunity to bring your family and friends. “We’ve had people of different ages attend the finals which is great to see,” he said.
“Some have come to support their friends or family members who were participating or some came because they had an interest in the sport. It’s a very friendly environment and the general atmosphere has been great.
“There have been some exciting matches so far and that will continue in the finals.”
Besides the sports, there are some fantastic prizes to win.
Al Ketbi said: “Each day we will have a prize draw where some lucky people could win valuable prizes which are donated by our sponsors.
“It’s an extra element of making the tournament more exciting as it’s regarded very highly in the UAE.”
What: Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan tournament
Where: Armed Forces Officers Club, Abu Dhabi
When: Today and tomorrow approximately 22:00