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Future fighters of terrorism gather in Tashkent
Uzbekistan hosts Asian unifighting championship
By Maksim Yeniseyev
TASHKENT – Tashkent is hosting the Asian Unifighting Championship to determine the title of a sport combining boxing, kick-boxing, sambo, karate, knife throwing, firing of air guns and an obstacle course.
The “Unifighting against Terrorism” tournament is sponsored by the Asian Unifighting Federation (AUF) and runs May 24-27.
Unifighting was created in Russia in 1996 to develop the fighting skills of special forces, regular troops and internal affairs officers.
Unifighting contests have two stages. First, competitors race through an obstacle course and fire air guns and throw knives for accuracy; after that, they head into a ring for hand-to-hand combat.
Qualifying rounds and the eighth-finals, quarter-finals and semi-finals took place May 24-26. At least one member of each team – Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, South Korea and Benin – reached the finals.
Ruslan Baiganurov, spokesman for the Unifighting Federation of Uzbekistan, explained the tournament:
“That’s how we understand it – tomorrow, these kids, fighting today in the ring, will be defending our country from various threats,” he said. “The lion’s share of unifighters is current internal affairs officers and special forces troops.”
“The best of the region’s best athletes have gathered at this tournament – the best anti-terrorism fighters,” said AUF President Sardor Tashkodzhayev.
He said the sport is open to all and crosses the spectrum of martial arts. The sport has competitions and training for athletes as young as 15.
“Unifighting is unique in that practitioners of completely different solo combat sports can enter the ring,” Baiganurov said. “We have a section for young athletes. … We don’t simply give them physical training; we educate them. We teach them to control their aggression.”
“I really enjoyed taking up this sport,” said university student Samandar Bolgoshev, 20, of Tashkent. “Unifighting doesn’t take a back seat to any sport in its ability to excite you – you’ve got the battle of two athletes and a thrilling fight that calls on different devices – it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Usniye Salimova, a secondary school teacher from Tashkent, took her students to watch the tournament.
“We live in an anxious time with the threat of terrorism present,” she said. “Attracting young people into this kind of sport will develop their patriotism. ... Many of the boys want to join a unifighting section. I hope that unifighting will develop further.”