The UAE continues to carry forward on its journey to becoming a leading sports destination, and the new home for jiu-jitsu.
Jiu-jitsu, whose origins began in Japan in the Sengoku period (c.1467 - c.1600), is now widely popular in the hearts and minds of the martial arts community. The sport's core values of loyalty, justice, morality, serenity, humility, honour, self-confidence and respect, are admired by the UAE leadership which has invested in bolstering the sport within the nation.
The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, first saw the emergence of martial arts practice in 1997, thanks to the efforts of H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Adviser, who is dubbed the UAE's "Godfather of Jiu-jitsu". His Highness was first introduced to the sport while studying in the United States. Realising its importance, and the lessons learnt behind the sport, His Highness formed the Abu Dhabi Combat Club, ADCC, in the same year.
In 1998, the first ADCC World Submission Fighting Championships was created, with a set of "neutral" rules that would allow practitioners of various martial arts to compete against each other, using "grappling" methods applied in jiu-jitsu.
A decade later, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, launched the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
Also in 2008, the Abu Dhabi Education Council, ADEC, adopted the sport of jiu-jitsu in public schools across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions, launching the 'Jiu-Jitsu School Programme'. The decision stems from the UAE leadership's belief in the sport contributing to building a focused and robust youth. Today, the number of schools that have adopted the programme in the emirate surpassed 165, with over 76,000 students taking part.
Another triumph for the sport was attained in 2012, following Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's decision to establish the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, UAEJJF, as the official authority for jiu-jitsu in the country. It's mission: "To work towards creating a supportive and motivating sports environment to achieve excellence and global competitiveness in jiu-jitsu sports."
Since its launch, the federation has played a significant role in strengthening the local, regional and international presence of the sport, and launched its leading strategy to promote the culture of jiu-jitsu, through signing partnerships with leading institutions from various sectors and jiu-jitsu federations from around the world.
Following its establishment, the federation supervised jiu-jitsu programmes in schools and worked to strengthen the UAE’s international position in the sport. The upcoming 11th Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship is a testament to the growth of martial arts within the UAE.
Currently, the UAEJJF boasts a membership of 35,000 jiu-jitsu practitioners, with 11,000 members from the around the country participating in local, regional and international championships.
The 2019 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship will take place from 24th to 26th April at the Mubadala Arena, welcoming male and female athletes from more than 100 countries competing across various championship categories.
Abu Dhabi continues to support the martial arts, earning its position as the new home for jiu-jitsu.