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Movie stars like Tom Hardy often act the role of a tough guy in films, but if his recent appearances in Brazilian Jiujitsu competitions are anything to go by, the man who played Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” is one of those rare exceptions: an actor that can hold his own on and offscreen. Behind the Gi, Hardy has become a true is a warrior that harnesses a passion for BJJ to work on his own physical and mental health issues, while helping to raise money for the military, veterans, and first responders. M&F takes a closer look.
Hardy, at age 45, has been making headlines recently by popping up with zero fanfare to legitimate UK martial arts competitions. But, while these appearances seem slightly surreal, and make for a fun read, there’s a ton of seriousness motivating his participation. Pictures of the Mad Max star, on the mat, went viral after he picked up a couple of gold medals in August following two wins via submission. Then, just last weekend, Tom Hardy was back in action at the Ultimate Martial Arts Championship Milton Keynes BJJ Open 2022, where to almost everyone’s surprise, he subtly showed up to the event under his real name, Edward Hardy, and once again bested all his opponents to win gold.
So, when did Hardy’s love of martial arts become serious? The answer to this can be traced back his role as Tommy Riordan Conlon in the 2011 movie, “Warrior.” During the promotion of that movie, in an interview with The Guardian, the star talked about the process of portraying an MMA fighter. “I did two hours boxing a day, two hours Muay Thai, two hours jiujitsu followed by two hours choreography and two hours of weightlifting seven days a week for three months,” said Hardy. “So come on! You have to really want to do that, so it was a challenge.”
As recent images show, Hardy’s love of martial arts continued past making the movie, and he is now a bona fide competitor with a blue belt to boot. But mixing it up on the mat isn’t just about trophies and medals for this man from Hammersmith, London. In fact, Hardy’s real motivation for competing is to work on his own wellbeing, while raising money for REORG; a charity that uses BJJ as a way to find strength in friendship. They provide therapy for veterans and active members of the military, police, and emergency services.
REORG uses jiujitsu training and philosophies to provide therapy for those suffering with a wide range of problems, from PTSD and depression through to loneliness and a lack of general direction. In supporting the cause, Hardy is in the company of a growing list of elite ambassadors including Roger Gracie, Braulo Estima, Kenny Florian and many others. Posting on Instagram recently, Hardy reflected on what his journey with jiujitsu means to him.
“Addiction is difficult and complex stuff to navigate, as is mental health. Subjects which are both deeply personal for me and extremely close to my heart,” he wrote in a touching message. “It is an honor to be able to represent the charity and my team REORG and the great work they do supporting the mental health and wellbeing of veterans of service, military and first responders through the therapeutic benefits of jiujitsu and fitness training. Simple training, for me, (as a hobby and a private love) has been fundamentally key to further developing a deeper sense of inner resilience, calm, and wellbeing. I can’t stress the importance it has had, and the impact on my life and my fellow team mates.”
Tom Hardy is right on. Studies show that physical exercise is one of the most efficient ways to counteract depression. With this in mind, REORG encourages and enables veterans, active military, and first responders to use Brazilian Jiujitsu and fitness training as a form of therapy to overcome physical and mental challenges. Added benefits often include a strengthened social connection, and greatly improved overall health and wellbeing. Their essential work has changed and saved lives around the world by providing an effective, positive means for navigating the challenging psychological aspects of military and first responder careers. The charity has also allowed many people to find a renewed sense of purpose, identity, and community that’s often lost when transitioning to civilian life.
It is apt then, that REORG was founded in Hardy’s homeland, the United Kingdom, and thankfully the group has since expanded to gain a presence in the USA and New Zealand. Sandi Johnson, who was at the competition in Milton Keynes, supporting her 26-year-old son, also called Tom, told M&F that the movie stars’ presence served as a great example to show that we are all a part of one human race. “I think it is very important for someone like Tom to support these charities as it brings more focus and awareness,” she said. “He is so well liked, and well known, that many people follow and listen to his views.” M&F salutes you, sir!
For more information on how you can access REGORG’s services, or support this charity Click Here!