ABU DHABI // Jiu-jitsu competitors from schools across the emirate of Abu Dhabi have graduated through university and on to the worldwide stage.
The sport is now on the curriculum at 47 government schools in the emirate and 60 pupils from the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Schools Programme were among 210 participants in an international competition at Zayed University's sports hall in Khalifa City B at the weekend.
They had earlier qualified from preliminary competitions involving 10,000 pupils from Grades 6 an 7 to reach the finals of the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Cup.
The youngsters represented 15 schools in the Abu Dhabi region, 17 from Al Ain and six from Al Gharbia.
At the end of the first day of the cup competition on Friday, Abu Dhabi schools had won five gold medals, Al Ain took four and Al Gharbia claimed one.
After the schools' competition the tournament was opened to fighters from all over the world, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco represented at regional level; and the UK, Brazil, USA, Philippines, Canada, France, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia at international level.
The second day was "No Gi" and involved submission fighting or grappling.
The highlight was the UAE's five gold medals through Saoud Al Hammadi in the Under 74kg White Belt Division, Shamis Al Shamsi in the Under 68kg Blue Belt Division, Hammad Al Dhuhouri in the Under 92kg Blue Belt Division, Mohammed Nasser Al Qubaisi in the Open Weight Purple Belt Division, and Abdullah Hamad Al Ketbi in the Under 92kg Senior (40+) Blue Belt Division.
This part of the competition also underlined the dominance of Russian mixed martial arts fighters who compete in this form of jiu-jitsu using their experience of sambo and wrestling in their native country.
The third and final day of competition on Sunday featured Gi bouts, the traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) competition and rules.
The UAE again did well with six gold medals through Saoud Al Hammadi in the Under 76kg White Belt Division (his 2nd of the competition), Ahmed Moussa Al Nuaimi in the Under 100kg White Belt Division, Khalid Al Nakhi in the Under 70kg Blue Belt Division, Khalifa Al Qubaisi in the Under 76kg Blue Belt Division, Hammad Al Dhuhouri in the Under 94kg Blue Belt Division (his 2nd of the competition), and UAE's female fighter Shamsa Hassan, who won the Under 56kg White/Blue Belt Division beating a Brazilian Blue Belt with more experience, resulting in a huge upset and a new chapter in the UAE's women's Jiu-Jitsu storyline.
The next major jiu-jitsu competition to be staged in the country is the sport's main event, the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Cup in Abu Dhabi from April 12 to 14.