World’s most prestigious jiu-jitsu competition opens in Abu Dhabi
Millions of Jiu-Jitsu fans across the globe turned their attention to Abu Dhabi today as youth female athletes took to the mat at the opening day of the ninth annual Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championships, 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.
Organised by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, the sport’s most prestigious international Championship opened today with the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival which saw dramatic day of clashes watched by thousands of spectators at the IPIC Arena, Zayed Sports City, in addition to a worldwide live television audience.
The Festival, which will run until April 15, features thousands of young athletes, beginning today and continuing tomorrow with girls’ competition, before moving on to boys, senior athletes then finally the newly added Para-division.
Today also saw workshops being held by the Federation with the theme of education and was hosted by Major Khalifa Al Darmaki.
Over two-weeks of competition, more than 7,000 male and female competitors as young as four-years-old, right through to a select group of the world’s elite professionals, will be fighting for AED3 million in prize fund.
Abdulmunem Al Hashmi, Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and Senior Vice President of the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation, said: "Abu Dhabi has strongly reinforced its position over the past nine years as the world capital of Jiu-Jitsu. Over this time, the sport and its values have become increasingly embedded in UAE community.'' "Our main objective is to make this a tournament for everyone - from the devout Jiu-Jitsu fan to the complete novice. We are hosting young amateurs, up-and-coming stars, and the very best senior fighters from around the world. It is a global platform to inspire young people to get into the sport and to leave a lasting legacy in the UAE and throughout the region."
"The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and the Abu Dhabi Government continue to bring together both sport and local entities such as schools and military across the Emirates to foster the teachings and benefits of Jiu-Jitsu, such as courage, loyalty, respect, commitment and discipline. This is reflected in the Championship wherein each day welcomes a different initiative magnifying the importance and meaning of these goals," he added.
Split into categories for amateurs, young professionals and the world’s senior elite, the competition aims to inspire and nurture an emerging generation of Jiu-Jitsu athletes throughout the region. To mark the UAE’s 2017 Year of Giving, the contest will for the first time hold a dedicated Para-Jiu-Jitsu division for fighters with disabilities and special needs.
After the Festival, next to step onto the mat will be a select group of young fighters on the verge of professional stardom. The two-day Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Youth Championship on April 16th and 17th. The stage will then be set for hundreds of the sport’s elite to compete for the highest honours as they battle out the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship from April 18-22. Fans will also be able to see international legends including Gabriel Arges, Alexandre Ribeiro, Jose Junior and Mackenzie Dern in an epic contest of strength and skill.
Ten Jiu-Jitsu icons, both current and retired, will then battle it out for five gold belts in the ultimate clash of talent on April 22. The return of the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Legends for the second-year running will feature Bantamweight legends Wellington "Megaton" Dias (USA) and Helio "Soneca" Moreira (Brazil); Lightweight legends Alexandre "Soca" Freitas and Baret Yoshida (HAW); Welterweight legends Kenny Florian (USA) and Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro; Middleweight legends Amaury Bitetti (BRA) and Roberto "Spider" Traven (USA); and Heavyweight legends Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz (BRA) and Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga (BRA).
"This year, the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championships is much more than simply a Jiu-Jitsu event, said Al Hashemi. "We wanted to honour the spirit of Year of Giving by forming partnerships with initiatives such as ‘Jasadak Amana’.
"And for the first time ever, the contest will hold a dedicated Para-Jiu-Jitsu division for players with disabilities and special needs. Workshops will also run alongside the event covering topics such as the environment, social responsibility, culture, and education, demonstrating that the event offers far more than a Jiu-Jitsu championship and will inspire the community to leave a lasting legacy,"