by Jia Ying Chia
A self-proclaimed ‘average hometown boy’, Pro Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)fighter and co-worker of Khalifa MMA Gym, Ahmed Faez Anuar certainly has a reputation and history that reveals him to be anything but. ‘Eazy’ as his is affectionately called amongst family and friends, became Brunei’s first homegrown black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in November 2022, a feat that is the culmination of his years of hard work and grueling training as a professional fighter and coach.
Starting from just a group of four, Eazy took on the task of coaching and building the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community in Brunei after its original practitioner and teacher had to move back home due to work commitments. Khalifa now hosts 20 students on average daily, from all walks of life and across both genders. The booming popularity of Mixed Martial Arts led more interest in the sports locally, although Eazy admits that the long time between progressive accolades can often be mistakenly used by the general public as a comparison of skill to other martial art practices. “I don’t blame people — it’s just perception and comes with the territory. But they need to understand getting a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu takes more than a decade.”
He says that he is focused more on honing his skills and improving his techniques to improve as a fighter and coach, even though obtaining his black belt was an obvious goal. “Anyone who starts doing Jiu-Jitsu seriously, obviously the end goal would be to get a black belt and continue on from there. My plans for Khalifa are all still the same. It only matters now because people take you seriously — fight promoters and tournaments (organisers) look at you legitimately now that you have a black belt.”
Competitions mean Eazy will be pitted against fellow black belt holders, many of whom having been practicing the art of Jiu-Jitsu far longer such as Brazilian coach Professor Alexsandro ‘Leke’ Machado who is the affiliated coach to the Khalifa MMA Gym. He visits annually to host seminars and grade any belt promotions, Including Eazy’s recent promotion. Asked about how training with Professor Leke is now he is progressing towards a similar level, Eazy admits that the first instances “are like night and day” and that there are clear differences between their skill set as fighters. “I’ve trained with him a lot of times and every time I go to Singapore, Professor Leke would invite me to an exclusive black belt training session and that’s where I’d improve more. As the years went by, I felt like maybe I could put up a good fight and didn’t feel like I was being ragdolled around anymore,” he says with a chuckle.
Although Eazy plans to continue competing (his first black-belt challenge slated for a grappling superfight in Singapore, December 2022), it is now about finding the “right fights and the right offers“ that will allow him to maintain his focus on building the Khalifa MMA Gym. “This is the main thing — when I’m done fighting, I’m going to come home to Khalifa. This is what keeps it going because it’s really about the community anyway.”