Faisal Al Ketbi is one of the most decorated jiu-jitsu athletes in the UAE. From Asian Championships to World Championships to Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, he has won them all.
His most recent feat was winning the gold medal at the recently concluded Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Faisal Al Ketbi successfully defended his Asian Games title by defeating the Korean Kim Heeseoung by advantage points in the men’s 85kg final.
Faisal Al Ketbi, Jiu-Jitsu Athlete from UAE
After his historic performance, he said that the limitless support he enjoyed from the UAE’s visionary leadership is the secret to all his achievements to date.
“The support I had from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates and Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Ruler of Abu Dhabi and National Security Adviser, is the primary reason for whatever little I have achieved in these years.”
The 35-year-old also credited His Excellency Abdel Moneim Al Hashemi, Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, President of the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Union, and Senior Vice President of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation for his remarkable journey in the sport.
“The close care and attention from His Excellency Abdel Moneim Al Hashemi and the trust he placed in me throughout my career, was an incredible factor that kept me moving forward.”
After having achieved countless medals and glories, Al Ketbi is still eying more. He said, “The constant drive to become No 1, the passion to be the best, and the fact that I always wanted to shine, and hard work, are factors that keep me close to jiu-jitsu and something that makes me not want to leave the sport.”
Al Ketbi feels that the sport of jiu-jitsu helps him approach everything in a realistic way.
‘When I lose, I take lessons and move on’
“Jiu-jitsu helps me learn new things, be kind to everyone, and try to exchange experiences. I always listen to coaches, friends, and people around me in general who have more experience in the sport or jiu-jitsu. The sport teaches me to deal with ups and downs; when I lose, I take lessons and move on, and it helps me become smarter in everything. These are all the secrets that kept me going.”
Faisal Al Ketbi, who has been practicing the sport for at least 20 years now, said he doesn’t keep count of medals. “To be honest, I don’t distinguish between a gold or a silver medal; every achievement holds a special place in my heart as a cherished memory, each one representing a step towards glory. I genuinely enjoyed the entire journey. The number of steps I had to take never mattered to me; I never counted the medals. My thirst for more kept me going. Whether it’s a victory or a defeat, I savour the experience and learn from every mistake.”
Al Ketbi’s First Medal in Jiu-Jitsu
Faisal Al Ketbi’s first medal in jiu-jitsu was in 2007, at the Asian Super Cup held in Abu Dhabi. He won second place, and he has still kept the medal framed in his office.
Before switching to jiu-jitsu, Faisal Al Ketbi tried his hand at various sports. “I’m also an Asian wrestling champion with a collection of medals from various ranks, in addition to triathlon and endurance horse racing accolades. My journey has taken me through a variety of sports, each rewarding me with medals. But in 2007, I fully switched to Jiu-Jitsu, and you know what happened afterwards.”