ABU DHABI // Schools across the emirate are being asked to nominate students to represent them in regional jiu jitsu championships later this month. The second annual regional championships will take place in Abu Dhabi on March 7; in Al Gharbia on March 11; and in Al Ain on March 24. An emirate-wide school championship will be held on April 8, and on April 26 a national championship will take place in the capital.
The competitions are being organised by the Abu Dhabi Education Council under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces - who is a big fan of the sport - and Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed, the chairman of the School-Jitsu project. In late 2008, the authorities launched a scheme to allow students from grades six to eight in 42 Abu Dhabi schools to study Brazilian jiu jitsu. So far it has provided training for thousands of students, including more than 2,000 girls.
Many of the students are receiving training from instructors brought over from Brazil. Modern jiu jitsu found its way from Japan to Brazil a little over 100 years ago, when a businessman from Japan introduced the Gracie family to judo and jiu jitsu. The Gracie family has been credited with creating the modern form of the martial art in Brazil, which has since become known worldwide as the home of jiu jitsu.