x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Emirati jiu-jitsu champ hopes to inspire others

Sheikh Saqer Al Qassimi was part of a seven-man team that won first place at the International Gulf Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Kuwait City last month.

Sheikh Saqer bin Omar Al Qassimi won first place at the International Gulf Championship for Jiu-Jitsu in Kuwait City. Courtesy Saeed Al Jenaibi
Sheikh Saqer bin Omar Al Qassimi won first place at the International Gulf Championship for Jiu-Jitsu in Kuwait City. Courtesy Saeed Al Jenaibi

RAS AL KHAIMAH // An Emirati martial arts champion is hoping his success will inspire others to take up the sport.

Sheikh Saqer Al Qassimi, 25, was part of a seven-man team that won first place at the International Gulf Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Kuwait City at the end of last month.

He defeated competitors from Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar to win a gold medal in the white belt under-85 kilos category.

The team won nine medals – six gold, one silver and two bronze.

Sheikh Saqer took up jiu-jitsu last year after meeting instructors at his gym in Ras Al Khaimah.

“I like grappling and wrestling in general and I wanted to try it out rather than just watch,” he said. “It is a friendly sport and doesn’t result in serious injuries like kickboxing.”

Sheikh Saqer admitted he did not fully understand the sport at the beginning, but grew to love it the more he trained. He now encourages his friends to take part.

“I always tell my friends about my training, I show them pictures and videos,” he said. “It’s a good sport, and it teaches them self-defence.

“It’s a different learning experience every day.”

Sheikh Saqer trains five times a week for between two and three hours, focusing on advanced jiu-jitsu techniques and strength, conditioning and cardio exercises.

“I don’t always have the time to train, but I need to remain fit,” he said.

His first event was a championship in the UAE and he came in fourth.

“It started out as a hobby and loved it. I saw others were entering championships and their level had developed. I wanted to see my level, as compared to them,” he said. “Now, I want to challenge myself and compete more.”

Sheikh Saqer expected to gain only experience from the Kuwait competition and was surprised to be a winner.

“I went for the experience, I wanted to learn and develop, and thankfully I have made it,” he said. “What matters is that I have raised my country’s name.”

He expressed his thanks for the support of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who also enjoys the sport.

“I thank Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for his support and for providing us with what we need in the sport,” he said. “He introduced jiu-jitsu to us and I dedicate this achievement to His Highness.”

Sheikh Saqer said jiu-jitsu had taught him valuable life lessons.

“Whether you win or lose, you learn. If you lose, you go back to your training, see what went wrong and [try] to fix it,” he said. “Next time you compete, you will surely be better at it.”

Sheikh Saqer is hoping his team’s victory will inspire others to take part in future competitions.

The Emirati competitors had already won several championships and that encouraged him to become better, he said.

“Many people will be encouraged and I feel this will give others the chance to develop and have the confidence to participate in championships,” he said.

He is now aiming to compete in the European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Lisbon, Portugal, this month.

“This achievement motivated me to participate in other championships and, if I am able to, I will head to Portugal,” he said. “I aspire to develop myself more and continue with this sport to achieve bigger accomplishments.

“Our [team] goal is to reach the world championships.”

aalkhoori@thenational.ae