For the 3rd consecutive year, The Kayyali Brothers are proudly representing Jordan for the 3rd time at the world championship for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu next month in Abu Dhabi. To them, Jiu Jitsu is more than just a sport but it’s more of a lifestyle. They eat, sleep, breathe the sport as it developed into a passion of theirs over the years which binds their family together.
I sat down with both Laith and their father Mohammed Kayyali to have a little chat about the sport in general and how it became a lifestyle for their family. “At first, my wife and I used to only observe Laith and Hazem fight to see how they handle it and it honestly builds their personality. I used to force them to come and train with me and they eventually hated both the sport and my guts for it, but I kept on pushing them until I made it in their blood.”, said Mr. Mohammed.
Mr. Mohammed carried on sharing stories about how both Laith and Hazem got into Jiu Jitsu and later on got recognized by Noah Thomas, an ex ultimate fighter, at such a young age. “As soon as we signed them up at the gym, everyone was questioning whether those 2 young kids were up for the challenge or not. The funny thing was, they beat everyone up at the gym. That was the moment when Noah Thomas recognized how talented they were. Approximately a year later, he arranged a fight for Laith and it was actually his first. Even though he was 13 years old, he managed to defeat the 17-year-old by split decision after winning 3 rounds. That shows you that the sport is not only based on strength, but it is more based on strategies.”
“Not only can the 3 of them promote the sport, but they can actually develop it. Hazem is a wizard to the point where he actually creates his own moves. The funny thing is, even though both Laith & Hazem have all the tools they need to make it, the advantage came to Zaki. He took Laith, Hazem, and even my style and it resulted in a wonderful marriage. If there’s going to be any competition, it’s definitely going to be from him”.
Laith then took the time to elaborate more on the sport itself and their previous achievements as The Kayyali Brothers.
1) Can you explain Jiu Jitsu as a sport to those who don’t know it that well?
Jiu Jitsu is a self defense sport. You can never tell who practices such a sport actually. It could be the nerd who shows up early for class, or just a random guy who’s always confident and very outgoing. It’s more than a sport honestly, not only does it boost one’s confidence but it also teaches you how to protect yourself and those who you love the most where it leans towards being a safe sport rather than being an aggressive one.
2) For those who don’t know, can you tell us more about your previous achievements as Jiu Jitsu fighters?
Believe it or not, and it’s even hard for us to believe it actually. As for me personally, I have the honor of being the world champion under 71 kilograms in the white-belt division of 2015. I am also Jordan’s national champion for several occasions over the past few years. However, my brother Hazem is also the world champion in 62 kilograms in the white-belt division as well as being ranked the 3rd globally in the blue-belt division in 62 kilograms last year. Last but not least, the youngest Kayyali, Zaki, was also ranked number 3 in the world last year. It’s genuinely hard to believe that at such an age, we’re world champions and we’re hungry for more success.
3) Who supported the 3 of you throughout your career so far?
In the beginning, when we competed in national championships we had no support whatsoever bar our family, our gym which is The Source, and our very close friends. We also have the support from the Brazilian world champion, João Assis, who is the founder of Checkmat, who has been constantly supporting us for the past 2 years and he will also be competing in this year’s tournament. Even when we competed on live television at the world championship back in 2015, we were only supported by our father’s company, MK Group, and our Uncle where they helped us both financially and morally which helped us massively to help us win the 2 Gold medals.
However in 2016, The Zalatimo Brothers alongside both Cairo Amman Bank and Repton New English School sponsored us in order to compete in the world championship once again. It was a true honor to have them sponsor us, however we do not have anyone to support us throughout our daily lifestyle and I believe that is truly the real obstacle we are facing.
4) Tell us more about the world championship you guys are competing in for the 3rd consecutive year?
It is the biggest Jiu Jitsu tournament in the world as it opens up for approximately 5,000 athletes all coming from 80 different countries. This is where the biggest, strongest and the best fighters come together all fighting for the same goal, and only very few talented athletes are accepted so it is definitely a challenge for everyone. You can watch the tournament live on Abu Dhabi Sports and it is open for the public for free.
5) Do you have any message for anyone who’s considering to practice such a sport?
To the people who are considering such a sport, my personal advice for you would be to sign up as soon as possible. Don’t just say that you want to, start immediately and I am confident that you won’t regret it. Almost 99.9% of the people I know that thought of giving it a shot now have blue, purple belts and they instantly fell in love with the sport.
6) Who would you guys thank for supporting you throughout all those years?
We would like to thank our family, friends, The Source MMA, Coaches Noah Thomas, Yazan Janeb, Ehab Janeb, Tareq Kalimat, Saad Al-Naser, Omar Al-Madanat, and Nasser Al-Faouri.
We would like to wish Laith, Hazem, and Zaki good luck at this year’s championship. Bring those gold medals home boys!