Watch: UAE's Sultan AlNeyadi becomes first-ever astronaut to practise jiu-jitsu in space

Sultan AlNeyadi demonstrates the ways in which practising the sport on Earth helps him perform manoeuvres on the ISS

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Published: Thu 4 May 2023, 8:01 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 May 2023, 4:33 PM

Sultan AlNeyadi is back with a fascinating and informative video from the orbit. This time, he has set another record as the first astronaut to have practised jiu-jitsu in space.

In this latest communication with us on Earth, the UAE astronaut can be seen floating into the frame wearing a jiu-jitsu kimono.

Hands at his side, he bows briefly, saying "Oss!" In Jiu-Jitsu, this word is an enunciation of respect, commitment and trust. There are multiple origins discussed for the word.

The could be a short form for 'Onegai Shimasu', which translates to “please, if you will”, or ‘Oshi Shinobu’, which means “enduring under pressure”. The enunciation is not used by everyday Japanese speakers, although the origin phrases are spoken daily.

After introducing himself, he says, "Today you see me in a Jiu-Jitsu. This because I love Jiu-Jitsu, I've been doing [it] for so many years, and I think [it] helped me a lot with my preparation for this mission, and getting adapted to the environment here on the International Space Station."

He then describes the specific and unique circumstances in space where Jiu-Jitsu poses and the discipline he learnt from the sport came in handy.

1. Centrifuge experiment

AlNeyadi talks about his times in the centrifuge, a machine that simulates an environment with multiple times the G-Force, or weight, encountered during launch and re-entry. According to AlNeyadi, this could go up to 8 times the force we feel on the ground. He says that it felt like a weight on his chest.

"One of the first things we learn in Jiu-Jitsu is to regulate the breathing. So this is exactly what I did during the centrifuge experience, and I think Jiu-Jitsu really helped me overcome that experiment," he explains.

2. Stabilising yourself in space

The UAE astronaut then talks about arriving in space and being surprised that the primary way to stabilise yourself in space is with your toes. If you balance on your heels, a slight touch could send you moving in any direction, he says, demonstrating by pushing himself off the walls.

He also shows us how he uses his toes to move around the station, pushing himself off the floor and then off the walls, doing tumbles mid-air. As he comes back to his original position he stumbles slightly.

"I'm still learning," he chuckles.

AlNeyadi says that Jiu-Jitsu training helped him with this aspect of space living as well.

3. Spacewalk

Jiu-Jitsu also helped the UAE astronaut during his spacewalk.

"It's called a spacewalk, but actually we don't walk, we use our arms," he says, using his arm to hang upside down and rotate around. He explains that training for the sport strengthened his forearms and grip - something that "really helped [him] accomplish the mission."

4. Bicycle kicks

AlNeyadi explains that gyroscopes help keep the ISS at its altitude, and that they work similar to the bicycle kicks that Jiu-Jitsu practitioners do as warm-up exercises. He demonstrates rotating backward and forward, doing the kicks in the air.

He demonstrates a front roll and back flip as well, showing how it can be fun to live and work aboard the floating laboratory.


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