The Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, which is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, made history today by including the first event Para-Jiu-Jitsu competition within their schedule.
Today the IPIC Arena was full of fans cheering on the Para-Jiu-Jitsu athletes. As they entered the arena the Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union and Senior Vice President of the Jiu-Jitsu International Federation H.E. Abdulmunem Al Sayed Mohammed Al Hashmi greeted each player on the mat. His Excellently Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, Chairman of the High Committee for Abu Dhabi hosting the Special Olympics was also there to support the event.
Speak at the event H.E Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi said:
“The ninth edition of the Championship has raise the bar with this kind of competition and this is due the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation successfully developing the sport across all levels, both locally and international, for children, adults and those with special needs. This success is attributed to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.”
“I am really excited and proud to see players coming to Abu Dhabi from across the globe to participant in the event and this is indicated by how popular the sport is becoming both in the UAE and around the world. I would like to wish every participant luck in the Championship. We are very proud of our UAE players in all kinds of sports and especially Jiu-Jitsu.”
H.E Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi also thanked that the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and H.E. Abdulmunem Al Sayed Mohammed Al Hashmi for all their effort in organising the Championship event and said that Jiu-Jitsu is playing a huge role in developing the nation’s health, fitness, body and mind.
The competition marks a big step forward for Para-Jiu-Jitsu athletes as it is the first competition opportunity for them compete in the same arena and with the same prestige as non-disabled athletes.
55 athletes with special needs and disabilities took part in the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival which is part of the 14-day Championship event.
The para-event featured adults, masters and juvenile competitors who travelled from as far as Argentina, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The classifications of disabilities to compete include impaired muscle power, limb deficiency, leg length difference, vision impairment, intellectual impairment and more.
Mauricio Carvalho, 36, has been practicing Jiu-Jitsu for almost 30 years. The black-belt para-athlete, who cannot use his left arm, has flown all the way from Rio de Janeiro to compete in Abu Dhabi.
“When I saw the arena for the first time I thought it was beautiful, a really great job. This is a fantastic opportunity for Jiu-Jitsu and para-athletes. ”
“As para-athletes we expect to show everybody that even with a disability you can still perform Jiu-Jitsu and you can still use the sport to better yourself – we will show that anybody that they can take part in Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to be respectful, to overcome your difficulties and be a better version of yourself. You learn how to get out of difficult situations, to breathe and think calmly. That’s important in life too.”
“I haven’t met the other para-athletes before but we’ve all spoken online before coming here. Today has been really competitive and everyone wanted the gold of course, but just to be here we are all champions.”
Another athlete competing in the Championship was local Emirati Para-Jiu-Jitsu athlete Mohammed Essa Al Balooshi who said:
“I had a lot of support from the home crowd today which was amazing and I wanted to win for them. As the only Emirati para-athlete I want to show the world that the UAE can do a lot of things. The biggest support today has come from my Mum – in nine years of competing this is the first time she has ever come and watch me so I am so happy I won in front of her. My award is for my Mum.”
Also, competing at the IPIC Arena was 350 white belt athletes grappling for 53 gold, 53, Silver, 31 Bronze across several categories. New to the schedule this year was the white belt Masters 3 and Maters 4 categories which saw fighters over 40 years of age compete to take home medals.
Additionally, running alongside the competition today was a technical workshop for referees allowing them to learn new skills and develop current practices.
The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation has embraced the Year of Giving and on each day of the Championship is promoting a theme that furthers this noble cause. The past days saw themes that included: Education, Health and Fitness and Media Awareness.
Today and every day of throughout the Championship spectators can enjoy the fun filled family atmosphere of the IPIC Fan Zone. As well as a food truck park, which is open throughout the event, spectators can test their skills out in the Fatima Bint Mubarak game zone, try their hand Jiu-Jitsu at the Palm Sports taster sessions and get snap happy the Majid TV photo booth. Each day there’s also a draw for one lucky winner to win a return ticket on Etihad Airways which will take them anywhere on the Etihad Airways flight network. Spectators can even enter a draw to win a brand-new car from Premier Motors; a Jaguar XE.
Tomorrow, the six and final day Festival, will see male and female participants compete across the Master 1, 2, 3 & 4 categories. Which will then be followed by the exciting Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Youth Championship on April 16-17.
Highlights to come over the coming weeks include the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship from April 18-22, which will see hundreds of the sport’s elite compete for the highest honours including international stars Gabriel Arges, Alexandre Ribeiro, Jose Junior and Mackenzie Dern; the Abu Dhabi Legends weigh-in event which will take place at 7pm Town Square, Yas Mall on 21 April; the return of the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Legends, an epic clash of Jiu-Jitsu icons such as Kenny Florian, Marcio “Pe de Pano” Cruz and Helio “Soneca” Moreira; plus the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Awards which recognises the talent of the sport at every level.