MMA in the Middle East:

Uploaded by vice on 29.01.2013


SAMY AL-JAMAL: In the Middle East, I think people are
warriors by nature.
They're born in conflicts.
They live their whole lives in conflicts.
And I think that martial arts, for them, is something that
suits them perfectly.

SAMY AL-JAMAL: Go, fight.
Let's go.

SAMY AL-JAMAL: My parents were Palestinian refugees.
They went to Brazil in the early '60s.
I was born and raised in Brazil.
They came back to Jordan.
They acquired the Jordanian passport and citizenship.
I also did that.
So basically, I'm Brazilian-Jordanian but lived
all my life in Brazil.
And I've been here living for the past five years in Jordan.
My name is Samy Al-Jamal, I'm a fourth degree black belt in
Brazilian jujitsu.
I'm a black belt in judo.
I'm a black belt in Karate, Shotokan.
I needed to defend myself in the streets of Rio.
Rio is not an easy place for you to grow up, especially in
the streets at the time was very violent.
So I decided to start learning martial arts in Brazil.
And since I was five years old up to now, I'm 46, I still
train martial arts.
I decided to come here, stay here, and teach jujitsu for
the Jordanian people, because I thought it would be very
nice for them to learn the true, original jujitsu.
And I stayed here and I opened the school in order to teach
the real jujitsu, the real Brazilian jujitsu.
Overall it's a way of life.
So I thought it was very important for the Jordanian
people to be exposed to that.
And I actually felt a difference here when I first
came and started wrestling with they guys.
I thought they were very strong.

And I don't think the Muslim empire was an empire just by
chance, because these guys were really, really strong
since back then.
The Source MMA is located in Rabia, which is west Amman, in
the heart of the city.
And our dojo is about 200 meters for training.
I think we are like a mini New York here.
It's like a melting pot of cultures, religions.
And sometimes we have people in the cage behind me here
praying, and right next to them people fighting, and
right behind them people actually doing mixed martial
arts and hitting each other, which I think is a beautiful
scene to watch.
And not many places in the world can have
this type of scenery.
We have foreigners that are non-native Arabic-speaking
people, and because they become Muslim they come to
Jordan, to live in Jordan to live a life of a Muslim.
And they also are into martial arts, so they come
and train with us.
And they're very religious, but at the same time very good
martial artists.
RAMZI NABULSI: My name's Ramzi Nabulsi.
I'm from Australia--
Melbourne, Australia.

I often get asked why did I come to Jordan.
Why did I leave the land of milk and honey of Australia
and come to the original land of milk and honey?
And the reason for me was to provide an environment for my
children and for my family and myself where we could
spiritually grow as people.

See this is learning sensitivity and how to stick
to your opponent.
It's very awkward, with the idea of
always remaining stuck.
So it's like a two-man drill.
And then you can start adding strikes and so on.
You win when you can move your opponent.
And you want to do so without having to muscle them.
You're just feeling and finding their center.
The good thing about playing with children is you don't
become aggressive.

So I live in a little town off Sports City, what's known as
Sports City in Amman.
It's called Haya Karupsha.
And it's known for the many scholars that live here.
The community is people from the US, the UK, Canada,
Australia, India, and local Arabs, Jordanians, and so on.
So it's a big mix of people.
And so we have every color of the rainbow here and many
languages, coming under the same banner or the same
intention to work on themselves and improve

There is a stereotype present within the world that Muslims
have something in their genetics, they just want to
get in to violence and they have a passion for violence.
I'm interested very much in the seeking a supremacy in
fighting in terms of the art form itself.
So I'm looking for excellence of fighting, which I think
comes down to something to do with justice, and so on.
An importance put on being able to stop people
evil with your hand.
So there's a need to do that.
And to do that, I find that martial arts gives you the
tools to do so.
So I don't find martial arts contradicts my faith at all.
And I find that, if anything, it's just a tool in order to
do what I'm supposed to do, which is support what is good
and stop what is bad.
I'm interested in competing at some point in the mixed
martial arts arena and other arenas, very much with the
intention to dispel any myths within myself, what I'm
capable of doing.
I don't want to lie to anyone.
And I don't want to lie to myself.
So I'm studying a number of martial arts--
Brazilian jujitsu, and I come from a background of Kung Fu,
and recently have started Tai Chi.
Much like in the same sentiment as Rickson Gracie
had said in his documentary, "Choke," in order to believe
in what you're doing, you need to be open to competition at
some point.

SAMY AL-JAMAL: Don't take the back.
Let go.
Take the back.
Go, go.
Two points.
Move, move, move.
Pass the guard.

What are you doing?
Why is the hand and that leg over there again?
The bottom of the leg.

Go down.
Go down.
Good guard.
Good guard.
You OK?
It's interesting, you have a lot of female BJJ fighters
here, more than my school in Brazil, more than many schools
that I see outside.
And although the culture here it's a bit restricted towards
women training martial arts, the girls here are doing a
very good job and this year we made two world champions.

Rana, she came to me, she had never done any sports,
especially any sports that she really had to push hard.
And she started kickboxing with me.
And then she merged into jujitsu.
And last year she competed in the European championship and
Abu Dhabi World Pro Championship.
She won both, the World Pro in her weight and open weight and
the Portugal, also, her weight, without anybody
scoring one advantage on her, which is a huge accomplishment
for anyone.
She's the first Arab woman to do that.

RANA QUBBAJ: I don't know why, but people think that girls
should be delicate and they should not be strong.
But I was never able to follow that concept, because I think
everybody should be strong because you cannot stand up
for yourself.
Not necessarily like being aggressive, but every person
should be able to stand up on their own.

My name is Rana Qubbaj.
I like to do MMA and Brazilian jujitsu,
mostly Brazilian jujitsu.
And I train and compete in jujitsu.

I started doing competitive fighting by chance.
I started doing jujitsu by chance.
I was just looking for a workout to lose
weight and get in shape.
I was a lot overweight.
And I had to lose some weight.
And it was very hard for me to get into working out because I
knew nothing about sports.
I tried to go to the gym, I don't know how
to carry the weight.
I don't know how to do anything.
I tried to jog, I can't jog.
Couldn't do anything.
I was totally out of shape.
I was a smoker.
I never worked out in my life.
So I tried a lot of things for six months.
And then I started kickboxing.
There was a jujitsu team in my gym.
And I kept on looking at them for like 2 and 1/2 years, and
I didn't feel I'm interested.
And then the first time I tried it, I really loved it.
The first time, the first five minutes, I really loved it.
And six months after there was a tournament in Abu Dhabi.
And I decided to try my luck out.
And I loved it.
So I didn't plan for it.

OK, so my normal routine is I wake up, like, 5:30 in the
morning, sometimes 6:00 when I'm really tired.
I prepare my food, because I have to eat certain stuff.
So I prepare my food.
I cook whatever I want to cook, whatever.
I have to prepare four meals.
Up to now, I have to eat four meals.
So I prepare my four meals.
And I try to be in the gym like 6:30, 7:00.
I start my morning workout routine, which is basically
cardio, strength, and weight-lifting and strength
exercises and whatever-- balance-- whatever I
need to work on.
So that goes in the morning.
And then I go to work.
I try to be on time at 9:00.
And I work 9-6.
My training is usually at 7:00, my second training.
So I leave from work to the dojo, to the gym.
I'm actually the first Arab girl to win an IBJJF
tournament, which is the International Brazilian
Jujitsu Federation.
These are the tournaments that are organized by the
International Federation.
So they're the hardest to win.
So the Europeans was the first IBJJF tournament
I've ever been to.
And I'm the first Arab girl to win that one.
There are a bit of difficulties actually.
The community's a bit conservative about girls and
guys grappling together and any form of being in very
close distance.
So it's harder here, because girls outside get more
opportunities, or they fight with guys more.
And guys are stronger, physically, obviously.
So that helps you develop your jujitsu more.

My family, the first time they thought it was just a trip.
They knew I'm fighting but nobody took me seriously.
And I still remember I was pissed off when I lost.
And then my father called and said, how'd it go?
And I was like, I lost.
And he was like, why are you pissed off?
Of course you're going to lose.
So nobody took me seriously the first time.
The second time when I told them I won,
it was like a surprise.
Everyone was surprised.
It's like, how can you win in the Europeans?

The last competition, the World Forum,
I didn't see that.
I wish I could see that.
But it was on TV.
So my sisters were telling me my parents panicked when they
saw me fighting on TV.
And especially in jujitsu it's sometimes complicated, because
you can be on bottom and winning and you are the one
who's in control and you're the one who's
not in pain or anything.
But it doesn't look this way.
So I was winning all the fights and they were
panicking at home.
So this is my Dad.
My mom went away.
I don't think that living in my parents' house effects my
ability to be a good fighter, because I know that our world
is conservative, but even not every part of the society is
as conservative.
So my parents have no problem with me going out, training,
travelling to compete.
And I've always travelled before competitions and after
So for me, it's not a problem.
I know it might be a problem for other Arab girls.
But for me it's not.
Thank god.
And sometimes guys in this country, unfortunately, have
the habit of just commenting on girls when they're walking.
So it used to annoy me more before I used to do jujitsu.
For example, I never would have stopped at an ATM at
night to withdraw money two years ago.
But now I don't care.
I had to use my jujitsu only once.
I was walking down the street and this guy started making
comments and I ignored him because this is what we do.
We ignore the guys when they do that.
And then he grabbed my hand.
He was like, I'm talking to you.
So I had to use some jujitsu.
But not too much.

SAMY AL-JAMAL: Every part of society, they have something
against it, which, to me, creates a platform for them to
show freedom, for them to actually go there and conquer
their rights and show to people that people are wrong
through going to championships, conquering
world championships.
And that's what I tell them all the time, their results in
the martial arts is what's going to make people
understand and except them better.