Muhammad Hyder, 14, punched above his weight when he won gold in the adult category at Grandprix Jiu Jitsu Open 2023.
Grandprix Jiu Jitsu Open is Singapore’s very first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition that adopted International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s weight categories. It includes categories for masters, adults, juveniles and kids.
Hyder also came in first in his age category, walking away from the competition with two gold medals around his neck over the weekend.
Speaking to Mothership, Hyder shared that it was his first time competing in the adult category on Sep. 23, and he was "insanely happy and relieved" after his wins.
According to Hyder's coach, Brendan Foong from The Gentle Art Academy, Hyder took on opponents who were at least eight years older than him.
"It is a really new feeling for me," Hyder added with two gold medals around his neck, "I rarely get to experience this feeling."
Wanted to test his limits
When asked why he decided to enter the adult category, Hyder said that he wanted to test his limits and see how well he would do in a category that was more difficult and at a higher level.
"It's also to stand out more and be more noticeable so that I could hopefully get invited to Singapore Jiu-Jitsu team in the future."
Going into the match, he reassured himself that it was okay if he lost because he was the underdog in that category, but he would try his best to win and remember all the techniques he learnt in training.
And most importantly, to have fun.
However, the biggest obstacle Hyder faced was his nerves leading up to the match.
Hyder felt intimidated by his adult opponents — the first one was a 22-year-old and the second one was a 35-year-old — making it more difficult to calm himself down before the fight.
After winning the gold in the adult category, Hyder went into his match against teens his age on Sep. 24, feeling more confident. And he won.
Did not enjoy the sport at first, but grew to love it
Hyder told Mothership that his father introduced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to him, but he did not immediately fall in love with it.
"At first, I did not really like to sport, and it was really difficult for me fighting all the bigger kids. And I was pretty skinny and weak back then. Then as time went by, I found out I actually love the sport and I found a lot of ways to overcome the numerous obstacles I have encountered in my Jiu-Jitsu life."
Foong shared that when Hyder first started training in Jiu-Jitsu, he was a nervous child. Hyder and his younger brother trained together, but his brother would beat him.
Foong also said that Hyder would cry in class when he was seven and would get beaten by the smaller children.
Hyder wondered if he should continue Jiu-Jistu, but he persevered.
"Over time, he developed a mindset of 'he will persist', and he would be self-motivated to do his best. Since then, he has been doing more and more of the adult classes, training with the adults... He's now entering the adult competitions because he wants to test himself and he's won all the kids competitions already."
Foong praised Hyder for his technical prowess, especially his "De La Riva Guard". He also described Hyder as someone who is very determined and would always put himself out there to find new challenges.
The next step for Hyder is to achieve his blue belt, which he can only do when he is 16.
Foong shared that they want to help Hyder eventually progress to a black belt and have him represent Singapore in international competitions.
Hyder hopes to continue competing in both adults and children categories.
Top photos by Hannah Martens