‘Once a Royal Marine, always a Royal Marine’
When Royal Marine commando Mark Ormrod was injured on duty in Afghanistan, he thought his life was over. He stepped on an improvised explosive device in 2007 and lost both legs above the knee and his right arm above the elbow. He was very lucky to be alive, but devastated to be told he was going to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
But the expression “once a Royal Marine, always a Royal Marine” is one that stuck with Mark. He was the UK’s first triple-amputee to survive the conflict, but he didn’t want to let that define him and hold him back. So he applied the dedication that brought him the Green Beret and set about seeing what he could still achieve with his body.
He began the long, tough task of learning to walk with prosthetics and left the wheelchair, as he put it, for “someone that needs it”. He competed at the Invictus Games, winning medals in events he had never tried before. Then, beyond all his hopes, he began training in martial arts again.
“I was a martial artist from about 12 years old and then when I got injured I had a couple of people from different disciplines approach me and say: ‘Do you want to come and train this martial art, or that martial art? We can get you to a black belt standard no matter what your injuries.’”
Mark added: “I just knew it was bullshit because of my experience, you know, these disciplines involved kicking, punching katas, as much as I wanted martial arts back in my life. I didn’t want to do it on sympathy I wanted to do it on hard work and effort.”
When Mark started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Sam Sheriff he found a grappling art that could be adapted to his capabilities. He was immediately hooked and has now been training for more than two years, getting his blue belt – a big step up, as anyone who has got that far will tell you.
A mainly ground-based grappling art is perfectly suited to him. As Mark puts it, with typical barracks humour: “Its about grappling and ground fighting – I can do this because I’m sat down with no legs – I’m on the ground anyway!”