By REORG Founder Sam Sheriff
The Gone Wild Festival is a great chance to learn new skills. There’s a ton of stuff on offer for the thousands who flock to Powderham Castle in Devon on the last weekend of August. You can learn to start a fire without matches, or try your hand at anything from archery and axe throwing through to kayaking and climbing, with great live music and food and drink, all helping support the Royal Marines Charity.
This year for the first time Brazilian jiu-jitsu was among the activities on offer. Along with some former colleagues from the Royal Marines, REORG was invited by Bear Grylls to give hour-long taster sessions to anyone at the festival that fancied a go. Big groups turned up, families with kids as young as four, going all the way up to senior-citizen level. So many turned up we were spilling out of the tent. I was amazed by the reaction we got and I think I learnt as much as they did.
The first surprise was how many people knew nothing about jiu-jitsu. When you are in a bubble of martial artists and military types, you forget that most people have zero experience of combat sport. But this was great, because it shows just how much more potential jiu-jitsu still has to grow. It also gave me a chance to speak about jiu-jitsu from a proper ground-zero level, going to the fundamentals of what it is all about, i.e. using skill and technique to overcome brute force.
The next surprise was just how much fun everyone was having. When you’ve been training for years you wouldn’t want to sacrifice your hard-won skills and go back to being a beginner. But then you remember, even when you have no idea what you are doing, jiu-jitsu is a blast. Of course it is, otherwise you wouldn’t see these clubs springing up all over the place.
It is so much fun, in fact, that you need to remind yourself that jiu-jitsu is a martial art that could actually save your life. It’s not that you want to get in a situation where you need it, but it’s good to know you have the skills just in case.
It’s not just as way of self-defence yourself that jiu-jitsu can be a life saver. At REORG we have countless stories of people who have felt their life getting out of control, then they started training and turned it around.
The Gone Wild ethos is very similar to ours at REORG: try something new. A small decision like that can open up a new life. For me it was jiu-jitsu, but it could be boxing or even axe throwing. The point is you get out there and do something that fires you up and gets you feeling the way you are meant to feel.
It was an honour to share my jiu-jitsu experience with so many more people. Thanks to Bear Grylls and the Gone Wild Festival. Already looking forward to August 2022!
· Sam Sheriff MBE served as a Royal Marines Commando for 22 years before retiring after a full career to devote his time to REORG.