x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

What It's Like To compete in jiu-jitsu for the Emirates

Abu Dhabi-based Faisal Fahad al Kitbi is a member of Emirates Jiu-jitsu - the national jiu-jitsu team of the UAE.

I started learning jiu-jitsu five years ago when Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan invited me to try it. I had trained in wrestling for a long time before, but I wanted to give jiu-jitsu a go and Sheikh Tahnoon was very supportive. Within five years I have progressed from white belt to blue belt. I train three or four times a week, concentrating on sparring, physical conditioning work and running. Sometimes we train at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club - where Emirates Jiu-jitsu is based - and other times on the beach.

Jiu-jitsu is a very exciting sport to be involved in, especially in the UAE. It is a very new sport for this country, but it is growing fast. In May, Abu Dhabi hosted the first World Professional Cup for jiu-jitsu - the biggest competition ever held for the sport. Being a part of it was unbelievable. I competed in the blue belt under 88 KG category. The competition was tough, but I fought hard. My wrestling skills gave me an edge and I had confidence I could win.

Winning gold in my category was one of my proudest moments. Being one of the first Emirati jiu-jitsu fighters to compete in the World Professional Cup and to win is very special. We can say we were there for the beginning of the UAE's success in jiu-jitsu. Only a few will be able to say that. In October I travelled to America with the Emirates jiu-jitsu team to compete in the Renzo Gracie Cup in New York and the International Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Miami.

Competing in America was a wonderful new experience, especially as I won two gold medals in New York and one in Miami. It is great as people across the world are now taking us seriously as fighters. My ambition is to become the strongest fighter in my category, in jiu-jitsu and wrestling - and to win another gold at the second World Professional Cup in Abu Dhabi next year. Representing the UAE is very important to me. A lot of the time we organise competitions and tournaments in this country without actually competing in them.

In jiu-jitsu we organise the tournaments, compete in them and go on to win them. Abu Dhabi-based Faisal Fahad al Kitbi is a member of Emirates Jiu-jitsu - the national jiu-jitsu team of the UAE