Sunday, 9 October 2016

The amazing side of Martial Arts, The Fighting Spirit Awards, celebrating diversity in Martial Arts

On October the 1st, a very unique awards ceremony took place in the United Kingdom, the awards known as the Fighting Spirit Awards, which were hosted by the Warriors Assemble, who are a collective of amazing martial artists who have chosen to highlight and celebrate some wonderful people involved in Martial Arts.
Tony and Sarah Pillage, along with professional Mixed Martial Artist Alex Reid resided over proceedings, and did an amazing job in every aspect.

Tony Pillage presenting the Fighting Spirit Awards

Honestly being asked to attend and listen to some of the most heart warming, inspiring and courageous insights into some remarkable martial artists who have overcome extraordinary odds was an honour in itself, and also emphasises the benefits not just of partaking in Martial Arts, but the sense of belonging to something very special and unique within some of the fantastic clubs that are out there.

Insights from a young gentleman called Callum Williams, who at a young age, had to have his feet amputated and is fitted with prosthetics, instead of sitting back, this amazing young gentleman not only took up Boxing and Judo, but is exceling in both, Callum has been working with the Adaptive Boxing Organisation, which is beginning to see adaptive athletes being able to compete in boxing events, the Adaptive Boxing Organisation (ABO) is headed by Colin Wood, who himself is battling a condition that is deteriorating his eyesight.

The inspiring act of courage and spirit shown by a young paramedic, who after having a heart attack, which had left him with confined to a wheelchair, through sheer determination and the love and support of his martial arts family, he was guided to his feet in order to accept his award, to a rapturous applause.
The young lady named Sam Morris who despite having global developmental delay that had gone on to thrive in Taekwondo being awarded by her coach Chris Jones, to the poignant gift of a coveted  belt to Robbie Hirst by Tony Bailey of Basingstoke Ju Jitsu Club, accompanied by the background on how that belt was earned and what it represents was incredible and emotional to listen to, Robbie had been nominated for the award by his coach and mentor, Richard Olpin of Ilyokwan Black Belt academy.

 Luis Coward and Gina Hopkins, who have thrived in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, show the positive steps made by martial artists and their clubs in working alongside some outstanding people and truly bringing the best out of the clubs, and those who train there, a very humbling and wonderful sight to see and be able to hear of so many fantastic people celebrating dedicated martial artists from their clubs at an event, that will hopefully go from strength to strength owing to how unique and special it was.
                                       The inspiring winners of the Fighting Spirit Awards 2016
Bethany Butler, Andrei Lazar, Alex Patterson, Casey Leigh-Statham, Callum Williams, Mohammed Afzal, Christine Batcheler, Chris Bird, Mark Brown, Andrew Burt, , Paul Coleman, Paul Couldrey, Luis Coward, Kevin Fitzgerald, Santosh Gurang, Robbie Hirst, Carl Hodgetts, Gina Hopkins, Mike Kilbane, Dave Lee, Sophie McCarron, Mandi Miles, Sam Morris, Lee Myring, Claire Payne, Gary Povey, Martin Ridley, Aaron Stevens, Ben Stevens, Connor Stokes, Colin Wood,

Tony Pillage, himself who is a coach ambassador for Fighting For Autism, gave a phenomenal account of his battle against cancer, putting into words the amount that this gentleman does for others through Martial Arts, is so hard to  do as he does so much, his wit captivates those listening, Tony himself is a man who defies the odds on a daily basis, Tony has gone on to present on radio and also write an autobiography called "Breaking Bob" ( Bob being the name given to the cancerous tumour by Tony)

From hearing feats that defied the odds, being in the presence of so many awe inspiring people really was a humbling experience, each and every award given had the "WOW" factor, and it really did highlight one thing and that is the fundamental importance in how much of a difference can be made with the right encouragement and application, each and every award given was so very much deserved, this event really did give some remarkable people their chance to shine, people with life changing adaptions but with one of the most positive mental attitudes, that really did make any issues prior seem to bade into insignificance, the amount of support offered by renowned martial artists towards Fighting For Autism was amazing. and with our amazing friends at Immortal 365 Martial Arts Academy in Peterborough and some other outstanding martial artists , we hope to be working on something rather special in the early New year...we will keep you posted ;-)

          Fighting For Autism was extremely honoured in receiving an award that evening too.

Fighting For Autism was founded by Christian Mitchell over in Australia, Brian Higginbotham in the USA and the addition of some amazing people involved in Martial Arts around the world, we have been so fortunate to be able to help raise Autism Awareness and actively involve those on the Autistic Spectrum as well as their loved ones and carers in awareness campaigns, meet and greet sessions with some amazing martial artists, to each and every Ambassador, club and promotion, whose kindness towards us has spoken volumes, to each and every Facebook or Instagram like, or retweet on Twitter, to every reader of a blog where we have been featured you are what makes Fighting For Autism what it truly is and you are the ones who carry the message of hope and bring the brighter day for so many, we wont ever be able to thank you enough.
Paul and Fighting For Autism Fighter Ambassador and Host of the Fighting Spirit Awards Alex Reid

A Huge Thank you to Peter and Beth Holmes, Karl Butcher and Magda from Immortal 365 in Peterborough, UK, Peter presented a very humbling award to Paul, Head of Operations for Fighting For Autism ( Europe), again without the support of so many wonderful people making Fighting For Autism what it is, it wouldn't be possible.
Christian Mitchell founder of Fighting For Autism over in Australia whose idea is gaining momentum worldwide with the assistance of some absolutely amazing people.
And last but by no means least Tony and Sarah Pillage, Alex Reid and everyone in attendance at the Fighting Spirit Awards, THANK YOU, your kindness and inspirational insights are the things that legends are made of, We truly hope that these awards grow and grow, with more people becoming part of something that is truly special.

Meanwhile  in the USA...... Head of Operations. Brian Higginbotham was inducted into the Horizon FC Hall of Fame, Brian who was in the cage with owners Aceamous Anderson and Shaun Scott, Brian was pleasantly surprised to be presented with his own Horizon FC Belt, by Regional Director Dwayne "The Titan Smith" who may be one of the hardest people to hide out of sight in order to surprise someone. Congratulations Brian, and Thank you to everyone at Horizon FC, and of course Dwayne "The Titan " Smith
Dwayne "The Titan Smith", Aceamous Anderson, Mark McLean, Brian Higginbotham, Shaun Scott and Jeralyn Spear.


  1. Was great to meet you and talk about all the fantastic work that Fighting For Autism does. I look forward to doing my small part to help towards the cause.

    Chris J

  2. Chris, an absolute honour in meeting you, your club will go from strength to strength ,making champions on and off the mats.