On a hot California summer day in 1995, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) class was being taught at Nelson Monteiro Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu Academy. During that time, BJJ was the hype shortly after legendary Royce Gracie had submitted everyone in the first couple editions of The Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The scrawny Brazilian bedazzled the entire world as he dominated much larger and stronger opponents, basically, it seemed, without laying a hand on them. Led by the Gracie Train, Royce had stepped in the cage to change the world’s perspective about Mixed Martial Arts. Going back to that hot California day, a new student walked into Nelson Monteiro’s class and introduced himself as “Ben”. He asked if he could join the class and was immediately registered, bought his Gi, and started attending BJJ classes. The student seemed very eager to learn, always among the first to show up at training and among the last to leave. Rumor has it that he would often offer to help in cleaning the mat before training sessions (a ritual left to BJJ white belts or beginners who usually shunned the task). Coming in most martial art classes, a novice or a white belt was given little if any attention. It was during the winter, after months of training and getting to know his new professor, that this humble, polite and noble gentleman student revealed to his professor his real identity: no one other than His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahayan!!
The SIXTH son of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan, the ruler of the extremely rich United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Tahnoon was ready to go back home, to Abu Dhabi, and invited Nelson Monteiro to come visit him in the small nation. Since that time Sheikh Tahnoon has continued to demonstrate great interest in BJJ and MMA. This started a new generation of UAE born Brazilian Jiujitsu athletes , ready to live the Jiujitsu lifestyle!