ArabsMMA had the honour of interviewing Rio Altaie, a grand master of several martial arts. Altaie is the founder of the World Black Belts Center; the first Martial Arts Center to introduce Tang Soo Do,DaiDo Juku, JiuJitsu and MMA to Dubai.
Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Master Altaie started his training in boxing at the young age of 15 after having been involved in a street fight in the United Arab Emirates. Some time after that he moved to the United States where he started training Tang Soo Do.
He became certified by Grand Master Hwan Kee who is the founder of the Tang Soo Do style. Rio earned his black belt in Tang Soo Do and then started practicing other disciplines such as Jiu Jitsu, Kali, Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, and Hapkido until he formed his comprehensive signature art which he calls “ARCA”, standing for Arab Reality Combat Art. Rio Altaie hold a black belt in Tang Soo Do, Hapkido, and Kali in addition to a purple belt from Royce Gracie himself!
For the few who don’t know, Rio Altaie operates closely with the most prominent mixed martial arts promotions in the region. He works as part of the commission of Desert Force, Quest Fighting Championship, and DFC (Dubai Fighting Championship). In addition, the Iraqi/American martial arts Master hosts his own MMA TV Show “MMA All Out” aired on Physique TV, as well as provides live Arabic commentary for Asia’s largest MMA promotion, ONE Championship.
Check out what Master Altaie had to say when asked about his views on these promotions lack in when it comes to the organisational side of life:
“The organizations I have worked with such as DFC, Desert Force, … have good organization compared to others I’ve seen abroad. Fighters sometimes make their own mistakes, for example I’ve seen a lot of fighters come without a coach and I’ve also seen managers take half of their fighter’s cash. There have been issues like fighters taking fights with too much of a weight difference.
Officials don’t always have a backup plan, when they should keep two fights in prelims. They don’t make all the rules clear to fighters individually. We face a lot of visa issues with in this region as well which prevents fighters from coming to different promotions. Another main issue also is that many sponsors don’t support MMA.
A little story I can recount for example that indicates the type of problems we still face, a Jordanian coach once in DF was standing in a restricted area just because he’s Jordanian. We cannot make exceptions to anyone.”
Many are still in need of improvment. Slowly, with the help of Arab pioneers, many little problems that could be fixed to improve the situation of MMA in the region are coming to light.
Thank you Rio Altaie for your time and experiences.