‘I don’t want to relax, someone is sitting on my chest’

‘I don’t want to relax, someone is sitting on my chest’

Juniour Mcilhiney is a former Royal Marines Commando who was hit by an IED on his second tour of Afghanistan, sustaining serious back injuries. After intensive rehabilitation he was medically discharged in 2015.

A keen boxer since he was a child, Juniour’s injuries left him unable to train in the sport he loved. He missed boxing and he missed the Marines, so could jiu-jitsu be the answer?

Juniour knew about the work Sam Sheriff was doing with REORG, but something was holding him back. “Sam kept talking to me about jiu-jitsu, but for some reason I was putting it off. Eventually one day Sam just cornered me and I had no other option but to go down and train.”

Having avoided the mats for all that time, how did it feel when he finally started to train?

“It was amazing,” he said. “I didn't think any other sport would give the same feeling as boxing but I think actually it made me feel even better.”

What about the back injury that had stopped him from boxing?

“It's still really tough and it does sometimes hurt, but it's something I can work around.  If I'm hurting in training than we could just work on different things, which is great. We can work on a range of movements and do different things. For me it’s completely different from boxing, it is almost like a meditation.”

You would think a former Royal Marine knew almost all there was to know about remaining calm under pressure, but Juniour found new levels with jiu-jitsu.

“When someone's on top of you and got you around the neck, it's really uncomfortable and it's not natural,” Juniour said. “Sam would tell me to relax and I'd be like: ‘I don't want to relax someone's sitting on my chest and I can’t breathe.’ But even though it’s hard, that’s what is great about jiu-jitsu, it pushes you out of your comfort zone.”