All posts by Can

Artemis BJJ was founded in 2014 by Dónal Carmody and Can Sönmez. We offer Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) in Bristol at Bristol Sports Centre, five days a week.

Artemis BJJ visit to the 2017 Leuven BJJ Globetrotters Camp

Artemis BJJ team at BJJ Globetrotters Leuven 2017 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Bristol

In July 2017, the intrepid grapplers from Artemis BJJ made a return visit to Leuven. All of us had been before, while in my case it was my third Leuven Camp. There was lots of excellent training, top notch techniques and some funky dance moves at the random mass singalong that happened in the centre of town on the last day.

Most importantly for the club, Can had loads of techniques to bring back and teach. So far, we’ve had a look at half guard techniques from Fran Vanderstukken and Kenny Polmans, along with some nifty triangle details from Joey Carta.

There is plenty more to come in the next few months, which will be further enhanced by yet another BJJ Globetrotter Camp, this time in Heidelberg. Can is the only Artemis BJJ representative at that one, as sadly Chris had to pull out due to injury. Not to worry, as the techniques will be coming back to Bristol.

Be sure to book your ticket as soon as possible for Leuven next year: they sold out a few weeks after the box office opened last year, so you will need to be quick. Don’t miss out!

There are also more upcoming camps this year which will feature Artemis BJJ students. A large group (not including Can, who will be teaching class as usual) is planning to go to Zen Camp in Poland, another brand new offering from BJJ Globetrotters. Hooray for even more techniques to bring home!

12 New Blue Belts & 1 New Purple at Artemis BJJ Grading Seminar with Kev Capel

Grading Seminar with Kev Capel at Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu group

Can and Dónal founded Artemis BJJ back in January 2014, with the women’s class beginning shortly afterwards in July 2014. We’ve grown a lot since then, going through many changes. The most significant was Dónal’s move to Wales in late 2014, meaning that Can suddenly found himself running a jiu jitsu club on his own. It’s been a steep learning curve with some interesting challenges. Perhaps the biggest has been to decide how to grade the excellent students we are lucky to have on our mats.

As it turned out, the solution was much less difficult than expected. Can originally began his training in 2006 at the Roger Gracie Academy. He soon met a purple belt there, Kev Capel. A few years later, Kev mentioned to Can that he was starting his own school back home in Buckinghamshire. So, when Can was living near High Wycombe in 2009, the choice of where to train was obvious: Kev’s still relatively new school.

Although Can moved to Bristol in 2011, shortly after he was promoted to purple belt by Roger Gracie and Kev, he had no desire to be graded under anybody other than Kev. Can has met countless people in BJJ, but there are very few that can match Kev’s combination of teaching skill, character and integrity. That connection has therefore been maintained ever since, with Can making sure to travel up to Aylesbury regularly.

Grading Seminar with Kev Capel at Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

When Artemis BJJ was founded in 2014, it was intentionally not affiliated to any large organisation. Instead, Can decided he wanted to go the BJJ Globetrotter route (having been impressed by the way Christian ran things, particularly the great atmosphere at his BJJ Globetrotter Camps), as that fit well with his principles and feelings about jiu jitsu. While Can remained individually under Kev, grading under him, he was not sure how to get his own students promoted.

The solution was sat in front of him the whole time: as soon as Can asked his instructor, Kev straight away agreed to pop down and do a grading seminar. We can’t thank you enough.

Grading with Kev Capel at Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

On the 11th June 2017, Kev was able to grade twelve students to blue belt, many of whom had been training long before Artemis BJJ was in existence (ranging from two years to over a decade). He also promoted Artemis BJJ stalwart Chris Jackson to purple belt, very well deserved: Chris has been a blue belt for a long time.

A special moment of vindication and pride was seeing three women get promoted. Creating a women’s class was a priority for Can when he started the club. It’s continued to grow, especially now that as of this year, it is in the capable hands of Lisa. Huge congratulations to Milka, Ruth and Kirsty!

We took a lot of video, plus plenty of pictures: that’s all up on Instagram. Well done to everybody who got a new belt! At the same time, a belt is just a piece of cloth: the goal is to get better, the belt is merely a pleasant side effect that comes with that improvement. Though admittedly it is nice being able to give them out. 🖖

Grading Seminar with Kev Capel at Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pieminister

Thanks for the write-up on the MYGYM blog, Anona!

SARSAS: A brief introduction to their important work

SARSAS logo grapplethonThis year, we will be supporting local charity SARSAS for our annual GrappleThon event. Artemis BJJ instructor Tracey, who is part of the team running our kids classes, has written a short piece explaining the important work done by SARSAS. Find out more on their website

Helpline volunteer SARSAS grapplethon
Helpline volunteer

SARSAS are a specialist support service for people in South West England who have experienced any kind of rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse at any time in their lives.

SARSAS services include a helpline, one-to-one support, counselling and e-support, all of which are free and confidential.  They have over 40 trained volunteers and 26 paid staff.  Last year, over 4000 calls were made to the helpline and over 500 emails responded to.

The support they give to survivors is life-changing.  It gives them an opportunity to be listened to, believed and supported to rebuild their lives.

counselling room SARSAS grapplethon
Counselling room

Statistics from SARSAS show that in the South West, 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime and over 60 serious sexual assaults take place every week.  Numbers using SARSAS services are increasing, including a significant rise in 13-17 year olds.

Please donate to this wonderful organisation, so they can carry on helping people who desperately need support. We are almost halfway to our fundraising target for SARSAS: if you’d like to help, the donation link is here.

Artemis BJJ women’s course (5 weeks) starts 1st March

artemis-bjj-women-laughing brazilian jiu jitsu

On the 1st March, Lisa will be starting a women’s BJJ course, which runs for five weeks at MYGYM Bristol on Wednesdays, 18:25-19:25. It’s important to pre-book, as spaces are limited. The course will cost £25. For more information, contact us on You can also click here for a course poster.

  • No punching or kicking, just using the body’s leverages
  • Wrestling and submissions, the groundwork aspect of MMA
  • Women of all abilities welcome, very sociable
  • Extremely fun, great for confidence and self defence

For more info about the regular women’s class, which will be resuming after the course, click here.

Episode Seven of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Carlos, Roger & Jean Machado

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For the first episode of 2017, I’m bringing out the big guns. Back in 2012, my friend Triin from Fenom Kimonos arranged an interview for me with Carlos Machado, the eldest of the legendary Machado Brothers. His younger sibling Roger also joined in, along with a representative of the next generation, Jean Machado (son of Carlos’ brother John). An edited version was later published in Jiu Jitsu Style magazine.

We talked at length about the history of BJJ, along with the specific history of the Machado Brothers’ journey to the US. There was a discussion of early female black belts in the States, the important role played by Chuck Norris, as well as a long and thought-provoking discussion of teaching pedagogy. Many of the ideas I’ve brought to the class structure at Artemis BJJ resulted from this chat with Carlos Machado.

In five years, naturally some things have changed. The WBJJO had only just been launched in 2012, with a goal similar to Rickson’s later JJGF. There was also a Machado reality show mooted, which would be cool: as far as I’m aware, that hasn’t yet been broadcast, but I’d certainly watch it.

07 Carlos Machado, Roger Machado & Jean Machado on the Artemis BJJ Podcast Brazilian jiu jitsu Bristol
Carlos Machado, Can, Roger Machado and Jean Machado

The Metamoris Pro was also very recent back in 2012. Carlos talks in this interview about his thoughts on the infamous match between Ryron Gracie and Andre Galvao. That led into discussion of its implications, such as the question of time limits.

This episode means I have now just about maxed out my free storage on Spreaker. If you would like to support the podcast so I can upgrade that storage, head over to our Patreon.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, let us know on

New Instructor at Artemis BJJ: Lisa

Lisa instructor pic Artemis BJJ womens classIn exciting news, we have a new instructor at the club! Lisa will be taking on responsibility for the women’s class from now on, with other women at Artemis BJJ covering when she’s away (e.g., Kirsty, who has been with us for a while now). She will also be part of the team helping to cover the other BJJ classes when Can is away.

Lisa has been training since 2012, earning her blue belt in 2014 from Lucio ‘Lagarto’ Rodrigues. She is also a qualified massage therapist, which has enabled her to work at elite BJJ events like Polaris. To find out more about Lisa, head over to the instructor page.


Xmas Opening Times 2016

  • Sunday 18th December, Neil Owen seminar 12:00-15:00 (£20)
  • Monday 19th December, 19:30-21:00, xmas meal at Pieminister from 21:00
  • Tuesday 20th December, 13:00-14:00
  • Wednesday 21st December, 17:55-20:30
  • Friday 23rd December, 18:30-20:30
  • Sunday 25th December, 🎅 CLOSED 🎅
  • Monday 26th December,🎄CLOSED🎄
  • Tuesday 27th December, 12:00-13:00 (TBC)
  • Wednesday 28th December, ☃CLOSED☃
  • Friday 30th December, 18:30-19:30
  • Sunday 1st January, 💃CLOSED💃
  • Monday 2nd January, 19:30-20:30

So, that means NO CLASS on Xmas Day (Sunday 25th Dec), Boxing Day (26th Dec), Wednesday 28th or New Year’s Day (Sunday 1st Jan).

It’s been an awesome third year for Artemis BJJ, with growing student numbers and a whole bunch of great seminars, plus an incredible club trip to the Globetrotter camps in Leuven and Bournemouth.

We’ve got lots planned for 2017: there will be another 24 hour GrappleThon on 15th/16th April, an even bigger group of us is heading to Leuven for the BJJ Globetrotter camp in July, and hopefully we’ll see yet more black belts visiting Artemis BJJ too. Exciting stuff!

Have an awesome Xmas and New Year! Reindeers for everybody. 😀

Details of Artemis BJJ Charity GrappleThon 2017 For SARSAS

Poster for Artemis BJJ GrappleThon 2017 by MeerkatsuWhat: The concept behind a GrappleThon is very simple: at least two people are grappling at any one point over a predetermined period.

When: 14:00 on Saturday 15th April 2017 until 14:00 on Sunday 16th April 2017.

Where: At our central location in St Paul’s, which is MYGYM Bristol, Unit 4B Dean Street, Bristol, BS2 8SF

How: To take part, simply turn up and roll. If you want to earn a fantastic custom Meerkatsu t-shirt (kindly provided by Tatami Fightwear), there’s only one way: join the fundraising team on MyDonate! Full guide on how to do that here.

Why: We will be raising money to support SARSAS. They provide an essential helpline for survivors of rape and sexual abuse. To learn more about SARSAS’s important work, have a read of their website, here.

Donate: Head to our MyDonate team page, here.

Press: Take a look at the Artemis BJJ press page for upcoming articles and interviews about the GrappleThon (as well as previous events), here.

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, renowned BJJ apparel brand Tatami Fightwear, top BJJ artist Meerkatsu, upcoming BJJ brands Tacerob and KASENartworks, plus of course our awesome hosts, local fitness specialists MYGYM.

For the top fundraisers, we will also have a range of prizes and goody bags (thanks to The Grapplers Gift), as well as customised shoes from KASENartworks. If all that isn’t enough to tempt you down, Lisa Chappell is once again offering free massages, plus Strength Lab are due to return to share some awesome fitness knowledge with us. 🙂

Episode Six of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Chrissy & Brian Linzy

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This interview follows on directly from the chat with Val Worthington, recorded during the same April 2014 trip to Virginia. Chrissy and Brian Linzy are two of the three founders of US Grappling (the third is Andrew Smith), pioneers of true submission only tournaments.

We covered lots of topics, ranging from the Linzys’ start in BJJ, the growth of US Grappling, how submission only is special, the IBJJF, governing bodies and BJJ in the Olympics, through to Chrissy’s thoughts on women’s classes and teaching.

Like my talk with Val, speaking to Chrissy and Brian had a massive impact on not only the women’s class at Artemis BJJ (which I launched not long after getting back to Bristol after this trip), but how I wanted to run my club and approach its growth.

Chrissy and Brian Linzy, Val Worthington, Leslie DoveTo find out more about US Grappling, head to their site here. The cool Groundswell Grappling Camps we talked about can be found here. Finally, the articles Chrissy wrote for me are all here.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, let us know on

Episode Five of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner & Tom Barlow

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This interview is from last month (10th October 2016), just before Chelsea and Tom taught their third seminar at Artemis BJJ. Chelsea is a top competitor training at Art of Jiu Jitsu under the Mendes Brothers, Tom teaches in Plymouth and has lots of titles to his name as well. He is also a commentator on Polaris, so you would have heard his voice on the recent Polaris 4 stream.

chelsea-bainbridge-donner-seminar-3-chelsea-tom-jpegWe chatted about teaching, women’s classes, the business of running a school and their histories in BJJ. In case you’re wondering about some of the background noise, that was the kids TKD class downstairs at MYGYM in Bristol. Not a flock of birds, like I thought at first when listening back to this. 😉

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, let us know on