ABU DHABI -- A five-year-old Filipina has won a gold medal in the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Abu Dhabi, to become one of the sport's youngest champions.
Aleia Aielle M. Aguilar ruled the Kids 1 Under-16 category at the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Festival last Sunday. She defeated Maria El Halabi of the United Arab Emirates, 6-0 in the semifinals, before beating Brazil's Gabriella Vercosa via verbal submission to secure the gold.
Aielle is from a family of martial artists: her mother, Maybelline Masuda, is a former world champion and a gold medalist in the 2014 Asian Beach Games; her father is URCC founder Alvin Aguilar, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
"Mula nung pinanganak si Aielle, I guess, jiu-jitsu family po kasi kami, so 'yung dad ni Aielle, first Filipino black belt po sya sa jiu-jitsu. Tapos ako rin matagal na ring nag tretrain, so it was sort of like, it's just became part of her life," said Maybelline Masuda, who personally coaches her daughter.
According to Maybelline, Aielle was only three weeks old when she first brought her daughter to training. As a baby, Aielle was also present in tournaments.
"Eventually, it was really something she wanted to do. Kasi we owned a gym also in the Philippines so everyday nandun kami since negosyo namin 'yun, so talagang exposed siya sa jiu-jitsu," she added.
"It's basically inevitable but it really came from her, that’s why we are happy and proud na she was really interested in it and it's something she wanted to do."
Aielle is not the only jiu-jitsu athlete in the family as her older brothers, Alonso Lucas and Andreas Lucho, are set to compete in the event as well.
Their mother is grateful that they have gotten the support of their fellow Filipinos in Abu Dhabi while competing.
"Grabe po talaga ang suporta," said Maybelline. "Pagpunta namin dito sa Abu Dhabi, we were met by mga kababayans na we never met before, pero kung paano kami tratuhin, parang pamilya."
"Talagang all-out po 'yung tulong," she said.
She also offered some advice to parents who want to get their kids involved in martial arts.
"I mean the scene is changing, people are starting to train earlier, younger. And martial arts is really something that is good for kids, you know 'yung discipline and then 'yung hard work, talagang they learn the value of it all. They become athletes and I would really recommend that parents get their kids into a martial arts, and jiu-jitsu basically," she said.