Fighting Star

By Matt Hammond

Hi everybody, Matt, one of your amazing activators writing for you again. Today I’ve been asked to tell a story about how I really got into my sporting life and into the gym. My sport is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which I currently compete in, on a national level. I study BSc Sports Studies so I’m very passionate about sports.

I’ve always been into sports ever since I was little. I’ve always been a very competitive child who strives to be the best I can be, it’s my personality and perhaps an instinct that I was born with. That said however, I will admit I hated PE in school most of the time, because I was one of the smallest kids in the class and very skinny, with asthma, and many of the people in my class were quite nasty kids. I never got rewarded for my efforts which would bring my self-esteem down even more. What often happens is people from a young age like me, have a bad experience of sports and physical activity in school, and often this leads to lack of participation later in life. Maybe your experience of PE was similar to mine?

So after that bad early experience, how did I end up becoming and athlete who loves sports and goes to the gym regularly? Well although I had the bad experience, I still had the determination from a young age to be the best I can be. Later on at the age of 14, my mum took me to my local judo club. My mum always encouraged me to be sporty and physically active, and if I wasn’t doing any sport, she would make suggestions for me to get into. Judo really caught onto me, I loved fighting, it gave me toughness and confidence in myself, I would eventually compete, get better and more into it. To help me develop my strength, my parents bought me a dumbbell set for my 16th birthday, which I then became interested in strength and conditioning. Over 9 years of Judo I have achieved my Black Belt and won medals. This achievement felt amazing.

One day when I was competing as a brown belt, I was in one of the finals, I was winning up on points when suddenly, Bang! I had broken my arm, my humorous bone clean in half, I was out for 4 months. In this time, it felt like being a kid again. I order to get my strength back up, ready to get back into Judo competition, I signed up to the gym. I was still unhappy and conscious about my physique, as I was still pretty small and thin. From there I started bulking up, and eventually went from about 45kgs to a healthy 68kgs. When somebody compliments how I look, I’m reminded of the determination I had which motivated me. Once satisfied with my body, I began to research and develop some serious strength and conditioning that was sports specific. 6 months after breaking my arm, I returned to the same competition and took the Gold medal, for me it was like triumph, finishing what I had started, the comeback.

From the day I started in the gym, I have maintained the habit created. If you are struggling to keep a good habit, changing things up and keep setting yourself goals. Nearly 3 years ago, I decided to take my passion for fighting even further, and took myself to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club, They help me, and in return, I began to coach them Judo to help their fighting skills. I fell in love with the sport. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about ground fighting, involving submissions and wrestling, much like judo, although the more open ruleset allowed me to express myself more, as the limited judo rules began to annoy and demotivate me. Moving to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is just an evolution of my quest for self-expression and success really. I found it difficult at first, but through perseverance and hard work, I’m now battling with some of the best in the country in my division, and have been promoted up to my current grade of Blue belt 1 stripe. I continue to this day to be the best I can be, and I enjoy it, meeting many friends along the way.

In summary, a moral of my story is, that even though your past experience of sports and physical activity may be negative, it’s not the be all end all. Start again, it’s never too late, there is an activity out there for everybody. Strive to be better than you were in the past. I think Active Students is a fantastic way to get into sports and physical activity again, a great way to better yourself every time you participate in one of our free sessions on campus. A great way to meet new people, and meet Me!

I hope you have found my story interesting, now I ask you one favour… Go onto the Active Students timetable, find a session that looks appealing and try it. There are many opportunities for you to take. I hope to see you soon – Matt