Hi everyone, my name is Harks and you may know me as The YES Project Team Manager; if not, hello – it is nice to meet you! I have been in post for a short duration, since the beginning of December 2019 to be precise, and prior to moving into my role I have worked for the local authority and the voluntary sector with children and young people, with over 10 years of experience in this field.
One of the things that I do in my spare time is practice and teach Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I have been involved in Martial Arts for almost 30 years. I initially started off with Tae Kwon Do, I then explored other arts such as Boxing, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and NUDDA M.A.X.Training. Tell me you didn’t want to be like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Jean-Claude van Damme?
Initially, I got involved in martial arts as I grew up in a not so friendly or nice part of Leicester, but coming from a family with older cousin,s we were generally very boisterous, I know, it explains a lot about me! However, from an early stage I was able to understand the ethics and code of conduct of martial arts which taught me the following;
“I would rather know it than never need to use it, than need it and not know how to use it!”
Today, since 2016, I am a co-owner (with two very good friends of mine) of our own mixed martial arts and fitness academy in the heart of Leicester City. We train and teach others who come from all walks of life to train and one of the things we pride ourselves on is the knowledge, skills and how welcoming the academy is for students.
So why Martial Arts? Well for me it was so I could hit someone and not get arrested for it! I am joking – for me it was about the level of discipline required to do a form of martial arts which is second to none, you will find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals and who will help push yourself beyond that comfort zone. You end up feeling satisfied knowing that you have both mentally and physically tested yourself and you come back stronger after every session. It can be hard, it can make you feel like you want to puke, is it worth the pain you are feeling, am I ever going to need this in real life, I feel like quitting… but then you go back in your zone of digging deep and pulling your skillset and experience out of the bag to survive the 1, 3 or 5 minutes remaining and then that bell sounds, now you can relax!
I believe that in martial arts the instructor doesn’t find the student, it is the student that finds the instructor. Some people may not like your training style but I come from the grassroots of old school training and know from testing myself in competitions that this is the way it worked for me. As a reflection, the number of students that look up to me fills me with pride and passion knowing that I am responsible in guiding these individuals in their martial arts journey to one day make their own decisions and potentially open up their own school, who knows!
If you want to give Martial Arts a try to learn a new skill, distress or to make new friends then I suggest you just give it a go! You have nothing to lose and if this story inspired you then don’t forget to use #SayYESto on social media and we’ll be sure to see it!