UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has made history by becoming the first person to practise jiu-jitsu in space.
In a six-minute video that he posted on social media, Dr Al Neyadi can be seen floating aboard the International Space Station (ISS) sporting a UAEJJ Gi, the traditional kimono-style attire worn by the sport's athletes.
Dr Al Neyadi said that jiu-jitsu helped him during his preparation for his six-month mission and in adapting to life in microgravity. He recalled how training in jiu-jitsu helped him to regulate his breathing during a centrifuge exercise that simulated the G-forces that astronauts feel during launch and re-entry.
“When I was encountering my weight times two, three, or even up to eight times, the first sensation was feeling an opponent on top of my chest. One of the first things I learnt in jiu-jitsu was to regulate my breathing, so this is exactly what I did during the centrifuge experience. I think jiu-jitsu really helped me overcome that experiment.”
Reflecting on his experience in space, Dr Al Neyadi said that his lifelong passion for jiu-jitsu is paying dividends in the confines of the orbiting laboratory, 420km above the Earth's surface.
“During jiu-jitsu training, we try to train our forearms and this was really helpful in the EVA (extravehicular activity) mission, where I worked for several hours outside the International Space Station.
"It’s called a spacewalk, but we don’t walk – we use our arms. Having trained in jiu-jitsu for so many years, and having really strong grips, it helped me accomplish that mission with no problems.
"I relate a lot of things from my jiu-jitsu experience to life here on the ISS.”
Abdel Moneim Al Hashemi, chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, president of the Asian Ju-Jitsu Union and senior vice president of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation, expressed his pride in Dr Al Neyadi's historic achievement.
"He has put the sport of jiu-jitsu on an entirely new map, taking us from mats to stars. We wish for his safe and successful return and the UAE takes great pride in his remarkable achievements," he said.
Updated: May 05, 2023, 6:46 AM