By Royal Marines Commando turned magician and adventurer James ‘Steel’ Stott
There is nothing quite like the experience of serving alongside your brothers in the corps. That’s one of the reasons a lot of guys struggle when it’s time to leave. You miss that tight group of people all working together for the same goal.
The other reason of course is that you have to find something else to do with your life. I started doing magic when I was still in the Marines. At first it was just a bit of fun to entertain the lads, but I loved the challenge, and the reaction that it got, and I got more and more into perfecting new tricks.
I did find it difficult when it came my turn to leave the Marines. I felt pretty isolated for a while. I missed having the band of brothers around me and to be honest I felt a little bit lost.
Taking my magic to the next level has been brilliant, and has led to amazing experiences like appearing on Britain’s Got Talent last year. Using explosives to terrify Simon Cowell on live TV was an experience I’ll never forget, and it has opened loads of doors for me.
But something that has really helped me keep my feet on the ground has been since Sam dragged me onto the jiu-jitsu mats. It’s very humbling when you’re new to it, which is great. I’ve never been shy of hard training, so on the mats I always reckoned I could muscle my way through, which will only get you so far against someone who is better than you.
I have always been very aware of the importance of regular exercise for my mental health. But with jiu-jitsu you add an extra layer on top of that, because not only is it great exercise, but it’s also very calming for your mind. It has become such an important part of my life, that I am planning to move close to Ben Wadham’s gym Pantheon Plymouth so that I can train as often as possible.
I am taking my magic on the road with my brother Marko. We will be raising money for cancer and mental health charities - and hopefully having some great adventures on the way. Marko is a historian with a ton of knowledge to keep my mind sharp. He is also a recent convert to jiu-jitsu, so wherever I go, I will also have a training partner.
Leaving the military can be tough, and everyone has to find their own path. But you need to make sure you exercise and eat right along the way or you might never get there. And who knows, a little bit of jiu-jitsu might help too.