The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour takes place in the capital this weekend at ZSC. Fancy taking the sport up yourself? Here’s where you can take a class in the city, plus we have wise words for beginners from a UAE champ at the sport

The UAE’s love affair with jiu-jitsu shows no sign of slowing down – this weekend sees the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour take place at Zayed Sports City. Fighters from all over the world are taking part, and there’s kids’ competitions as well. There’s also a cash incentive, with more than $190,000 up for grabs in prize money. Fancy having a go? There are plenty of gyms in the capital offering lessons, with some of them offering five classes a week. Still not sure it’s the sport for you? Get some inspiration from Emirati champion Salem Al Suwaidi below, who will be competing this weekend at Zayed Sports City.
January 12 and 13
Ipic Arena, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, Fri and Sat 10am to 6pm. Tel: (050) 5108844. Taxi: ZSC.

Five tips from Salem Al Suwaidi

Jiu-jitsu is done wearing a gi
Make sure to have a good understanding of the techniques when you start jiu-jitsu training in a gi (a kind of kimono) before venturing into the world of “no-gi” (which of course means competing without wearing one). It’s easier to adapt your gi techniques to no-gi than vice-versa. That is the correct way to learn the basics of jiu-jitsu.

Do your homework
Always do your homework and soak in as much information you can about this gentle art – many beginners get discouraged when their start in jiu-jitsu is not what they expected or hoped for. Make sure you pick the right coach or instructor and make sure they’re training you properly and paying attention, don’t accept anything less. If you feel you are not getting correct amount of information in the classes, it is better to switch gyms than to quit.

Tap out
Don’t be afraid to take chances when you are sparring with a fellow student, who may have better technique than you. Take your chances and If you aren’t at a better level, than there is no shame in tapping out (which means you call for the bout to end). It is a lesson, so you can work and focus on what you need to correct after experiencing how those techniques can help you the next time.

Have faith in the techniques
Jiu-jitsu is all about adaptability. Never stop believing in the techniques that you have learned and what you haven’t yet. Sometimes it is frustrating – try your best to defend by using the correct techniques, but if you feel there are certain techniques you aren’t able to apply at your level, talk to your coach – I’m sure they will be happy to help you adapt.

The art of self-defense
Jiu-jitsu was invented by the Japanese to defend themselves during the times of war. Self-defense techniques will give you a confidence that you can defend yourself in some unwanted situations where you have to. Keep in mind that each of the current self defense techniques, even the tournament-level techniques, in some way or another originated from the basics. Knowing and understanding the basics is like taking a history lesson and will keep you from making basic mistakes.

Where to try jiu-jitsu in Abu Dhabi


You can burn around 600 calories an hour doing jiu-jitsu, and you can take classes up to five times a week on Reem Island at Primal. You’ll be taught by Coach Ammar, who is a black belt and also happens to be a commentator on MBC Action’s martial arts show Desert Force. Beginners and experts can attend classes, but wearing a gi (otherwise known as a kimono) is compulsory on all days except Tuesdays.
Primal Gym, Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, Sun, Tue, Wed 7.30pm, Mon and Thur, 6.30pm, Dhs500 per month. Tel: (050) 2962157. Taxi: Amaya Towers, Al Reem Island, near old Repton School.

Cobra Fitness

This gym in Al Bandar offers classes in the Brazilian martial art for both adults and children. Once again, you pay a monthly fee and can then turn up to as many of the scheduled classes as you like. Get ready to master grappling, ground fighting, joint-locks and chokeholds.
Cobra Fitness, Al Bandar, Abu Dhabi, various classes Sun to Fri, Dhs500 per month. Tel: (02) 4496524. Taxi: Al Bandar.

Titan Sports Academy

While you can learn the moves associated with jiu-jitsu here (such as grappling), the classes on offer are slightly different – you’ll train not wearing a gi, meaning the moves are slightly tweaked as a result. For example, instead of grabbing the kimono when making a move on an opponent’s arm, you’ll grab their hand instead. It’s a popular class with people learning MMA.
Titan Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi, Dhs550 per month for four to five classes a week. Tel: (050) 2200326. Taxi: Abu Dhabi City Golf Club.

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