Artemis BJJ, a new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club that opened in Bristol this spring, will be holding a 24-hour ‘Grapplethon’ at the Hit Fit gym in Longwell Green on 12 April, raising money for Kinergy, a Bristol charity providing counselling to survivors of rape and sexual abuse (full details here).
“We always wanted our club to have a strong community focus, as well as an emphasis on equality,” says Can Sonmez, co-founder of Artemis BJJ. “This GrappleThon is one of the many ways in which Artemis BJJ will be giving back to the Bristol community.”
From 2pm on Saturday 12 April until 2pm on Sunday, people will be on the mats wrestling round the clock. “I think it’ll really hit us in the early hours of the morning,” says Can, “but it will be great fun.”
Already over £4,000 has been raised, a figure that continues to rise. Dónal Carmody, co-founder of the club and counsellor for Kinergy, says “Kinergy is an amazing charity open to everyone, regardless of location, age or gender. The waiting list is a year long. Some clients come to Kinergy trying to deal with the indescribable levels of abuse they have faced. Counselling can potentially be a huge step.“
The fact that already ten women are signed up to wrestle is demonstrative of the club’s focus on equality. Pippa Granger, one of the more experienced women taking part, remembers her thoughts before she took up martial arts over a decade ago:
“Originally, I didn’t like the idea of martial arts because I thought I would just embarrass myself by getting hurt and crying, but I wanted to learn some self defence. I went to a self defence class first then gradually moved on to other martial arts, started training just for the love of it and eventually found BJJ.”
Artemis BJJ, which runs classes in the St Pauls and Longwell Green areas of the city, has a mission to create a better training atmosphere ‘on the mats’ with more women taking up the martial art.
Both Can Sönmez and fellow club founder Dónal Carmody are passionate about creating a friendly and welcoming training environment. “We are hoping to attract more women because we believe not only is BJJ a fantastic martial art for women, a good gender balance also creates a better atmosphere on the mats,” says Can.
BJJ has also been named by several women as something that has helped them grow in confidence. It can even function as a form of sport therapy. Elena Stowell’s book Flowing with the Go, which has been translated into several languages, details how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu helped her deal with her grief over the sudden death of her daughter.
Artemis BJJ will be starting a free women’s class in May at Hit Fit: please see www.artemisbjj.com for details. For more information about Kinergy and the important work they do, go to www.kinergy.org.uk. Thanks to GrappleThon sponsors, Seymour ‘Meerkatsu‘ Yang, Tatami Fightwear and Hit Fit.