Professional Jiu Jitsu comes to Africa

The African Continent is the most isolated when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One can find renowned brazilian coaches of BJJ in North America, Middle East, Asia, Australasia and Europe, as well as many competitions of all sizes, but in Africa the locals must do with what they have. Not many black belt travel often there, and the distance for them to travel is huge, so very seldom African fighters have the chance to train in Brasil or North America. I met some South Africans living in England and training BJJ there, but most of them don’t return home, which would contribute more substantially to the growth of the sport in their area.

When it comes to competition, the problems are even bigger. The distances between the major cities can only be covered by plane, offering another challenge to the fighters that must struggle with money in order to compete. So even competitions have mostly hometown crews entering them, not many people can afford flying from Luanda or Johannesburg to Cape Town and vice-versa to dispute medals.

Having read that, one would think that BJJ is pretty small in Africa, and the level is not really high. Nonsense! The local fighters have a very good grappling, the clubs are booming in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Luanda, as well as in other parts. All comes down to dedication, and after 4 trips to South Africa, I can say those guys are serious about grappling and committed to overcome the barriers. 

So the importance of the Abu Dhabi African Trials to Africa is huge and cannot be underestimated. For the first time, a BJJ competition will be offering the chance to local fighters to qualify and have all expenses paid to compete in the most prestigious BJJ tournament in the World. Distributing over Us$ 148,000.00 to the competitors in the next main event, the Abu Dhabi BJJ Pro World Cup offers a real chance to 5 Africans to go compete against the BJJ elite next April in the UAE. This event will be a turning point to BJJ in Africa, allowing all practitioners to fight for the chance to represent their flag in the biggest professional BJJ competition.

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This opportunity is only possible due to the generosity of the National Government of the United Arab Emirates, which will pay the flights, accommodation and grant Visas to the five African qualifiers, as well as others qualified through the same process around the World. This initiative is an effort of Carlos Santos and Fernando Paradeda, sponsored by H. H. Sheik Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyam, Patron of the World Professional Jiu Jitsu Cup.

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We’d like to thank them for making it possible, as well as to our local crew in South Africa that is putting the pieces together to deliver a great tournament: Nathan Raaths, Sheryl Newman, Reinhardt Fourie, Jurgen Putter, Michal Shapiro, Stuart Rider and the Rio Grappling Club South Africa Crew that are contributing to bring this project alive.

5th of December will mark this important step towards including Africa in the map of Professional Jiu Jitsu, with the Trials happening in Johannesburg, and if all goes well, the idea of the organisers is to expand the number of qualifiers in future trials, opening even more the doors of Professional Jiu Jitsu to Africans and helping promote the sport all over the continent. We hope to have the full support of all the African Grappling community, because this is a project worth being involved with, one that will bring inclusion not only to South Africans but to the whole continent.

For more info about the African Trials, please go to: www.africabjjtrials.wordpress.com

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