Tom Hardy got his first taste of martial arts while training for Warrior, the 2011 film where he starred as an MMA fighter. Apparently he caught the martial arts bug, because he’s continued to train and enter tournaments—including one in England last weekend. According to The Guardian, the 45-year-old actor used his real name, Edward Hardy, to stealthily sign up for a local Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament held at a school in Milton Keynes, a town outside London. The tournament organizers and competitors didn’t realize someone famous was showing up to compete until Hardy arrived for his matches. And he didn’t just compete—he emerged victorious in every match and won the whole tournament.
In addition to showing off his skills on the mat, Hardy also found time to hang out with fans at the event. A spokesperson for the tournament said he was a “really nice guy.”
“Everyone recognized him but he was very humble and was happy to take time out for people to take photographs with him,” the spokesperson told The Guardian. “It was a real pleasure to have him compete at our event.”
At the end of the tournament, “Edward Hardy” walked away with a certificate of achievement—and left behind a whole gym full of competitors and spectators with a great story to tell.
Hardy has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and this isn’t the first time he’s turned up at an event to compete. Just this past August, he won the REORG Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the U.K. It’s an event that raises funds for “military personnel, veterans, and emergency service workers,” The Guardian reports. Hardy is also a trustee with REORG, a charity that offers jiu-jitsu lessons to people suffering from serious injuries, PTSD, and depression.
After the August REORG event, a local news outlet interviewed Danny Appleby, a veteran and one of the competitors who faced Hardy on the mat in the tournament. Appleby called him “genuinely a really nice guy,” although getting over the surprise of wrestling a celeb was an unexpected challenge.
“I was shell-shocked,” Appleby told Teeside Live. “[Hardy] said, ‘Just forget it’s me and do what you would normally do.’”
Hardy went on to win the match, and Appleby was impressed.
“He’s probably the toughest competitor I’ve had.”
Be warned: If you’re entering a Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament in the U.K., you never know when you might face Hardy as a surprise opponent.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!