From Mats to Stars: Sultan Al Neyadi cheers for fellow athletes at the ADGS Abu Dhabi

May 5, 2023

The dream of reaching space would be just a dream without hard work and daily dedication to reach the goal. With Jiu-Jitsu as an example to follow, our athlete Sultan Al Neyadi, a NASA astronaut representing UAE, reached his peak when he had the opportunity to live on the International Space Station (ISS).

A Jiu-Jitsu purple belt, Sultan was champion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi back in 2018. With that achievement in curriculum, he made a point of saluting his competitor friends who are ready to get into action at this weekend's tournament, on the same event and stage at which Sultan received his gold medal, winning four fights.

Training to be able to walk in space was arduous, and one of the challenges is withstanding the extreme gravitational force applied to astronauts during their journey into space. For Sultan, Jiu-Jitsu training put him one step ahead.

“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 learned in Jiu-Jitsu was to regulate my breathing and stay calm, so this is exactly what I did during the centrifuge experience. Jiu-Jitsu really helped me overcome that experiment.”

Not to mention all of Sultan's skills, acquired over the years practicing Jiu-Jitsu, that help him on a daily basis on the ISS, such as strong grips to move in and out of the station, and even to handle the strenuous work outside the ISS, during the spacewalk, in which Sultan used only the power of his hands to move. The development of foot musculature, always active in Jiu-Jitsu, is also used a lot in zero gravity to stabilize around the space station.

In addition to his personal achievement and the pride of all Jiu-Jitsu practitioners around the world, having a representative of our sport wearing the gi in space, it is worth mentioning the impact of such achievement in the lives of many children and young people who will be inspired by the story of Sultan Al Neyadi.

On the first day of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi, our team interviewed the children who opened the weekend of the tournament, and they were extremely excited about our representative in space. Not only for achieving this achievement, but for the opportunity to train Jiu-Jitsu in zero gravity, and be able to record such an important moment that will be recorded for generations.