He calls himself a former “bad boy from the streets” – but Knowle Wester Jamie Horsman has made good through taking up Brazilian Jujitsu.
He’ll be celebrating a year of teaching classes at Filwood Community Centre this September – which he started to “put something back into the area and inspire others”.
Jamie (39) says: “I was on heroin at 15 before I left school, I went to young offenders, prison. I got out of jail in 2000 and I’ve been clean now for 17 years.
“I’ve got an addictive personality and I’ve found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has kept me on the straight and narrow. It keeps the kids off the streets and stops them making the same mistakes as I did.”
When he first set up the Filwood-based club last year he only had a handful of students – but says now it’s is getting “bigger and better”.
Three children have won Golds at the Bristol Open and students have also been getting medals at the British Open.
“My youngest student is five and the oldest in their sixties, you’re never too old to start. It’s the kids who are really excelling.”
Jamie himself is modest about his achievements but since starting the sport in 2009 has won the Bristol Open nearly every year, the British Open twice and the European Championships three times – and is about to take his Black Belt.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a descendant of the traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu and also features throws, joint locks and chokes – but places greater emphasis on the ground fighting aspect of the martial art.
Jamie explains: “The whole idea is you can take a bigger, stronger opponent to the ground and use leverage and techniques as opposed to strength and power. You can train hard without hurting each other…”
He can’t say enough about how the martial art has completely helped him turn his life around and hopes his story will inspire others.
He says: “It’s opened my eyes to the world outside Knowle West – I’ve made friends across the board… It’s a great way to keep fit, make friends and learn a good defence and sport which teaches you respect and discipline.”
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes take place at Filwood Community Centre in Barnstaple Road on Tuesdays from 6-7pm for children and 7-8.30pm for adults. On Fridays there’s a mixed adult and children’s class from 6-7pm. Contact Jamie on 0793 980 5097.