The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Now, that might just seem an empty sentiment you used to console yourself with when you faced off against a big, bruising bully in the playground as a kid, but in the martial art of jiu-jitsu, size really isn’t everything.
The Brazilian version of the sport, which will be taking over the capital for the latest leg of the prestigious Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour on January 12 to 13, is based on the principle that method can defeat might and technique, leverage and ground skills can see a smaller, weaker opponent stand tall over a larger foe.
Bosses at the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation feel it can be a sporting craze to sweep through the nation ahead of the Abu Dhabi leg of the tour, which is the fourth of the worldwide series after successful events in Tokyo, Los Angeles and Rio de Janiero, and ahead of the final slam to be held in London in March.
Some of the world’s best players will be taking to the mat at the Mubadala Arena, previously known as the IPIC Arena, this month in search of medals and ranking points, which could lead to lucrative cash prizes at the end of the year.
“Our aim and mission is to transform the UAE into a world leader when it comes to jiu-jitsu,” His Excellency Abdulmunam Al Hashemi, chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, says. “We as a nation always strive for perfection, and that is what we work to achieve. This is the fourth leg of the Grand Slam, and a very important one for this region, as more athletes from the Middle East can participate.
“So we are looking forward to bringing the best jiu-jitsu players to Abu Dhabi and put on an excellent show for the fans.”
Brazilian black belt champion Ricardo Evangelista says it is an “honour” to compete in Abu Dhabi.
Evangelista adds: “The Rio Grand Slam was really incredible last month but it will be amazing to come back and perform here. I have seen this tournament grow from the start.
“It has really become the most prestigious jiu-jitsu tour in the world. It’s a pleasure and honour to compete in Abu Dhabi. I am looking forward to putting on a show for the fans.”
The two-day extravaganza will see players compete in a range of belt categories and in age divisions including juvenile (16-17), adult (18-29), master 1 (30-35) and master 2 (36 and over).
A trophy will be awarded to the best club and there will also be a special prize for the black belt adult division champions.
A jackpot of nearly Dhs700,000 will be on offer for the greatest grapplers on show throughout the sporting spectacle.
Free. Jan 12-13, 10am-6pm. Mubadala Arena, Zayed Sport City. For more information, see www.uaejjf.com.