When the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) held its’ first ever tournament in 1993, Brazilian jiu jitsu was brought to the attention of the world. This martial art is a grappling style, where fighters use leverage based maneuvers (including joint locks and choke holds) to counteract the brute strength of their opponents. Over the past two decades, the popularity of this fighting system has grown exponentially worldwide.
In the UAE (United Arab Emirates), jiu jitsu has been officially embraced by the government, championed by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed – who belongs to the powerful Al Nahyan family. In 1998, Sheikh Tahnoon set up the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club), which organizes competitions featuring the world’s best modern submission grapplers. Also, Sheikh Tahnoon has converted the UAE into a haven for exponents of Brazilian jiu jitsu – so much so that lots of athletes relocate to the country to teach and train.
Jiu jitsu is part of the syllabus in over 100 UAE schools, and there are over fifteen certified jiu jitsu dojos that are governed by the UAEJJF (UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation). Furthermore, the UAEJJF is presently overseeing the construction of seven additional jiu jitsu dojos throughout the UAE. This country is unique in that billboards are often used to advertise jiu jitsu matches along roadsides, and many jiu jitsu competitions are shown on national TV.
Brazilian jiu jitsu is a state funded national sport in the UAE, however it is not usually practiced by women and men in the same way. The UAE government observes Sharia Law, which enforces strict rules about what women are permitted to do. Women have nowhere to train, unless they are jiu jitsu coaches. The UAEJJF has changed its’ rules about unisex training classes on numerous occasions. Press Release The Guardian