Ever since I started judo when I was 11, I have loved all martial arts. But in the last few years, my training has taken on a new level of importance, because it has been a vital part of keeping my mental health on track.
I joined the Royal Marines at 17 and did three tours of Afghanistan. Losing friends and comrades is never easy, and it definitely took a toll on me. Especially when we lost Sgt John Henry Manuel, who we all called Manny.
Manny was older than me and I knew him through martial arts before I joined up. I was just a kid when Manny was already a Marine and he really inspired me to become a Marine too. Manny was an awesome guy, a real father figure to me. He was killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in 2008, and that was when my mental health began to suffer.