Members of UAE national team among fighters who have ideal day out before start of Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship later this week
Day 2 of Jiu-Jitsu Festival serves as perfect dress rehearsal for fighters to prepare for World Pro
Even as Day 2 of the Jiu-Jitsu Festival was dedicated to the Armed Forces of the UAE, as well as the country's police, some fighters made use of the stage at Mubadala Arena to prepare for the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship later in the week.
Among them were Zayed Al Kaabi and Nasser Omar Al Breiki, both members of the UAE national team.
“Yes, you can say that it was a nice little trial ahead of the World Pro,” Al Kaabi said after winning a gold medal in the 110-kilogramme brown belt division on Tuesday. “Obviously it’s not the toughest competition as compared to the World Pro, but it’s always a challenge for myself before the bigger test.
“I had two fights because there were not many in the brown belt. So it worked out well for me in my preparation.”
Al Kaabi pointed out that it was a good opportunity for those serving the country to showcase their skills on a bigger platform. “Being in the Armed Forces myself, I know how much these chaps enjoy to be in the spotlight,” he said.
“Jiu-jitsu is part of their training in the Armed Forces, and it’s nice to see them pitting their skills against each other in a competition.
“There are hundreds of them who took up jiu-jitsu after joining the services, and I’m sure everyone enjoyed this outing regardless [of whether] they reached the medal round or not.”
Meanwhile, Al Breiki took less than a minute to beat Omar Ali Al Mazrouie with a triangle choke in the final of the 77kg blue belt category. But he conceded the level of competition on the way to the gold medal round was challenging.
“The final was easier but the fights before that were a bit tougher than I expected,” Al Breiki said. “I’m pleased with my performance and the result. I got around six days to return to a tougher competition.
"My preparations for the World Pro has gone well, and we’ll see what’s around the next corner for me.”
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Relative newcomers to jiu-jitsu had a field day as well.
Thamir Al Shamsi, 31, won gold in the 69kg blue belt Masters-1 division by getting the better of Humaid Essa of the Air Force. He won 8-0, on points.
The fighter from Fujairah, who represented the Presidential Guard, took up the martial art only two years ago. But his rise to capture the blue belt has been rapid.
“I got into jiu-jitsu by accident,” Al Shamsi said. “I tried out once and the coach told me I should start competing. I won my first competition and have been successful in a few others."
The self-proclaimed fitness fanatic won gold in the white belt last year, in the competition for Armed Forces, before joining Al Jazira Club to continue building on his success.
“Jiu-jitsu came naturally for me because of my fitness," Al Shamsi pointed out. "I was an athlete in my younger days, competing in the sprint events, and later in long-distance running and rowing.
“I’m loving my time in jiu-jitsu. This is my new passion, and that’s what I’m going to do as long as I stay healthy. It’s never late to pursue on a new sport.”
Day 2 drew more than 1,100 competitors to fight for the 48 gold medals on offer.