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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Young Emirati jiu-jitsu fighter Khalifa Al Kaabi focused on continuing to evolve with the martial art

At 17, Khalifa Al Kaabi already seems to have his career path chalked out.

The Emirati has two objectives he wants to achieve: to serve as a police officer, and to continue his jiu-jitsu development that he hopes will one day bring international fame to his country.

After completing his final year at Emirates Private School in Abu Dhabi, Al Kaabi aims to join the Police College during which time he intends to focus on accomplishing as much as he can in jiu-jitsu, as well as in academics.

Al Kaabi, a member of the UAE national age group team, is looking to round off his last year in the junior category on a high when he competes in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, which takes place at Mubadala Arena from Monday until April 28.

“Jiu-jitsu has taken me to places where I wouldn’t even have dreamed of reaching," he says. "When I say places, it’s not travelling abroad. My achievements stand out in my CV and are recognised by people who put me on my career pathway.”

Al Kaabi, who competes in the blue belt 60-kilogram category, has been undefeated since his gold medal win at the World Pro 12 months ago. He has won five golds from his previous five appearances at the World Pro, including one each in the yellow, green and blue belt categories, and two in the orange.

His other notable victories during the season include gold medals at the Grand Slams in Los Angeles, London and Abu Dhabi, as well as during last month’s Jiu-Jitsu International Federation’s World Championship for Aspirants and Juniors held in the capital city.

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Evidently, he is pleased with his success.

“I have lost count on the gold medals I have won since I started competing more than five years ago,” says the fighter, who is ranked world No 1 in the juvenile blue belt division. “I know I have a cupboard full, for sure. That’s the reward for all the hard work."

However, he quickly adds wanting to "take my success forward when I compete in the adult division".

“It’s going to be tough," he concedes. "But if you want to reach the pinnacle in the sport, you have to be prepared to face any challenge. I’m really fortunate because of the support I receive from our federation and my coaches.”

Al Kaabi also points out that much progress has been made, not just by him, but by the martial art as well. "Jiu-jitsu makes its debut at the Asian Games in Jakarta [in August] and the Olympics in the near future," he says.

“One of my dreams will be to be at the Olympics, perhaps in 2024. If not the next. That’s what I understand. I have age on my side and hope I’ll be still around.”

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