Category Archives: News

All the posts on the Artemis BJJ blog are under the News category, in order to make it easy to link to all the Artemis BJJ posts at once.

Position of the Month: Half Guard

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Half Guard
Dónal is using the knee shield style of half guard

Closed guard is a solid defensive position with multiple high percentage attacks, but eventually somebody will break your closed guard open. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to stop them before they fully pass, trapping them in half guard.

Unlike closed guard, in this position you only have one of their legs under control, rather than a grasp around their hips. However, that’s still sufficiently strong to launch a variety of attacks: the half guard has a diversity of variations. Knee shield, lockdown and deep half are some of the most common.

The basic half guard involves trapping one of their legs, blocking the cross-face and looking for the underhook, propping yourself up on your side. To pass, the person on top will look to flatten their opponent onto their back, applying the cross-face and avoiding the underhook.

Half guard is perhaps the only truly neutral position in jiu jitsu. There are reliable submissions from both the top and the bottom, with many of the attacks from side control remaining viable (although the trapped leg cuts out any submission requiring a transition to north-south, which includes several powerful chokes).

Join us in June to learn more about this essential guard variation!

Position of the Month: Closed Guard

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Closed Guard
Closed guard is perhaps the signature position of BJJ

Brazilian jiu jitsu is probably most famous – and indeed most innovative – in its use of the guard position. Although this was certainly a part of BJJ’s parent art, judo, it is in BJJ that the guard has arguably reached its highest level of sophistication.

Closed guard is where it all begins. From the perspective of the person on the bottom, you need to control your partner’s posture, breaking them down so that they can neither sit up nor stand up. When you’ve broken their posture (Can taught the basics on that topic last week), they will also find it harder to avoid your submission attempts.

The closed guard has numerous submission opportunities, such as chokes, armbars and omoplatas. The transition between the triangle (a powerful choke, introduced by Dónal on Tuesday), armbar and omoplata is particularly effective. However, If they manage to stand up, it becomes quite difficult to submit them, as they now have gravity on their side.

On the other hand, a standing opponent is still vulnerable to sweeps. We will be covering various sweeps this month, enabling you to move from the guard (essentially a neutral position) into mount, side control and the back (all dominant positions).

For the person on top, we will examine various methods for passing the closed guard, as well as basics like posture and grip breaking. Unlike open guard, you first need to break the closed guard, a topic in itself (here’s one method). Once that is accomplished, there are many methods for moving around their legs, most of which also have applicability in other types of guard.

We hope you enjoy exploring the closed guard with us this May!

GrappleThon Raises Over £5,000 For Kinergy

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu GrappleThon 2014 for Kinergy at Hit Fit in Longwell GreenThanks to everyone who took part in the GrappleThon last weekend, whether you were a fundraiser, donating to the JustGiving page or simply turning up to have a roll. The event went really well, raising over £5,000 for Kinergy! If you’d like to read more, have a look at Can’s write up over on

There’s also a cool video from Vy-liam Ng, which at the end previews the next GrappleThon, (organised by one of last weekend’s fundraisers, Jodie Bear). Special thanks to our sponsors, artist Seymour ‘Meerkatsu‘ Yang and renowned BJJ apparel company Tatami Fightwear!

Further details of our expanding timetable will be on the Artemis BJJ site next month, when we update the Classes and Locations pages.


Kinergy GrappleThon Press Release

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu GrappleThon 2014
T-shirt and poster design by renowned BJJ artist, Seymour ‘Meerkatsu’ Yang

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 for details. For more information about Kinergy and the important work they do, go to Thanks to GrappleThon sponsors, Seymour ‘Meerkatsu‘ Yang, Tatami Fightwear and Hit Fit.


Interview: Beth Thrasher from Vector Jiu Jitsu

The second interview we want to share with you from the research behind the Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine ‘BJJ in Schools’ article is from Beth Thrasher, who heads up the Vector Jiu Jitsu project over in the USA (visit their Facebook page here). To read the article for which this interview was a source, pick up JJS #19.

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu interviews Beth Thrasher from Vector Jiu Jitsu 1

How would you summarise your project in a sentence?

A comprehensive youth development program serving “at-risk” youth using the vehicle of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to instill 3 core values:  Know Yourself, Better Yourself and Help Others.

How did you (or the founder, if it wasn’t you) go about setting up that project?

 I am a public school teacher in Mississippi at one of the lowest performing schools in America.  Our student population is plagued by generational poverty, violence, crime, gang activity and academic malaise.  I had worked for several after school tutoring programs funded by the government that were completely ineffective.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu had been the vehicle that brought both my husband, and I out of deeply depressive periods in our lives (before we’d even met, and 1,000 miles apart), it was what had also brought us together.  We concluded that, if Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu could be that powerful of a force for positive change in our lives, it could be the same for my students.   

After doing a research literature review to support our claim that a martial arts program for urban youth would have positive outcomes, I approached the principal at my school and asked if we could start Vector Jiu-Jitsu as an after-school club at Wingfield.  Without batting an eye she said “Sure, go ahead.  Just find your own money to fund it.”   I made sure to follow up with the school district’s legal counsel and executive director who both gave their stamps of approval as well.

So, in the summer of 2012 my husband and I began to solicit local politicians, church leaders and businesses for a $3,000 sponsorship to purchase mats and begin our program.  The response was non-existent… save for the earnest support of city councilman Tony Yarber.  Councilman Yarber, a martial artist himself, fully understood the power physical arts can wield in a young person’s life.  He worked to gain us audience with local business firms, and they were enthralled about our program but pledged no funds.

In the end, we were “loaned” $1,500 from the JROTC Booster Club at our school, courtesy of LTC Kenzie Wallace’s endorsement and we, the Thrashers, provided the other $1,500 (no small feat for our single income household with 2 toddlers).

Mats were delivered on December 18th, 2012 and the first official classes for Vector Jiu-Jitsu began on January 7th, 2013.

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu interviews Beth Thrasher from Vector Jiu Jitsu 3

What was the biggest obstacle to getting the project underway?

 Money (funding)

What would you say has been the project’s biggest achievement to date?

There are two 19-year-old boys in our program who have looked us in the eye and said that they were going to drop out of high school before Vector came along.

What has been the biggest ongoing challenge?

The biggest challenge has been being limited in our access to the facilities and students at Wingfield High School exclusively.  We need to expand to serve more kids in the community and thus achieve a true paradigm shift out of the cycle of perpetual poverty and academic failure.

What are the main benefits you feel the children get out of your project?

The main benefit our children receive is personal accountability.  Most of our students have lived their entire lives with no one expecting much from them.  We expect, and in fact demand, that they do their best, with excellence in every endeavor.  Whether it’s not letting pants sag, refraining from cursing, lifting their voice to stop a bully or correcting a classroom assignment to move a “B” to an “A”, Vector Jiu-Jitsu mentors expect that students become a better version of themselves every day.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add regarding your project?

You can throw money at the declining academic performance in American children all you want, but if you don’t stoke the intrinsic fire within for those children to take advantage of resources already at their disposal than your money is wasted.  We truly feel that jiu-jitsu WILL stoke that fire in hundreds of thousands of American school-age children and thus, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu might just be what saves public education in America!

 Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu interviews Beth Thrasher from Vector Jiu Jitsu 2


Position of the Month: The Back

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - the Back
Can is setting up a choke from the back on Gem

We’re moving on from the mount to a new position this month in Bristol, the back. Together with mount, this is the highest scoring position in most BJJ tournaments (if they use points), due to its dominance.

The back can be divided into several sub-positions, the most common of which is demonstrated in the picture at the top. This is what people are normally referring to when they talk about ‘the back’. Something called ‘the turtle’ (where your opponent is facing the mat on their elbows and knees, compacted tightly for defence) is another important variation, then there are less commonly used options such as the body triangle.

If you can reach the back, you can attack your opponent with relative impunity, whereas there is almost nothing they can attack in return (be careful of crossing your feet, as that presents your partner with an easy ankle lock opportunity). There are many submissions available to you here, especially chokes, both with and without the gi.

The most iconic choke of all is probably what is known as the ‘rear naked choke’ (because you don’t need to use a gi to apply this choke), or more fancifully as the ‘Mata Leão’, which translates as ‘Lion Killer’. Royce Gracie used this choke to good effect during his seminal fights in the early UFCs and it’s been a staple of mixed martial arts ever since.

We’ll be learning that choke, among others, this April. You will also learn how to maintain and escape the back position, as well as how to bail to mount if you feel your opponent is slipping free. It’s a versatile and powerful offensive platform: we look forward to sharing it with you!

Interview: Ralph Presgrave from Submit 2 Success

Can recently wrote an article on kids programmes in BJJ for Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine, including various charitable projects. The article quotes from a number of short interviews, but as there were some great responses, we wanted to put those up in full on the Artemis BJJ website. So, interviews will be popping up over the next few weeks: to read the article in JJS #19, you can buy the magazine here.

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu interviews Ralph Presgrave from Submit 2 Success - 1

How would you summarise your project in a sentence?

Submit 2 Success is a youth engagement programme which promotes healthy lifestyles and targets anti social behaviour using the sport of BJJ to young people ages 13-19 ( our early intervention programme Urban Gurillaz targets those aged 6-12

How did you (or the founder, if it wasn’t you) go about setting up that project?

I had worked as a local authority youth worker, at the time 2009, a few of the kids I worked with wanted to get into martial arts after playing Undisputed on xbox. I was training BJJ at the time under Shaun Matthews. I told the kids, “Look guys, you can apply for money from a youth activities fund and learn properly.”

We set up a seven week pilot project covering super basic stuff with Shaun’s guidance. It was a huge success (excuse the pun) with five students, who were not from the best background. They all gained an accredited certificate through ASDAN too. After that the council funded us for a year, I took redundancy and started to just run Submit 2 Success voluntary.

What was the biggest obstacle to getting the project underway?

The project just evolved…the council funded it, then Sported (the Olympic legacy charity). I made lots of links and got turned down from lots of places for funding, but after a while we had secured something long term. This allowed young people access without having to pay, as it was a really deprived area.

We currently have several funders, including the NHS as well as the Thornaby and Stockton councils. Shaun Matthews, Martin Ashton and Jamie Taylor from Middlesbrough Fight Academy are all great mentors to me and really equipped me with lots of great topics to cover with the guys.

What would you say has been the project’s biggest achievement to date?

Reaching over 100 young people over the past year. One of our guys took bronze at British Open juvenile: the young kids are looking really sharp on the mat too.

What has been the biggest ongoing challenge?

Funding is always an issue especially in these difficult times. It would be nice to achieve some more long term funding. The project was nearly forced to close in 2012 due to a conflict of interest with a local gym, but we stuck it out, secured some last minute funding and haven’t looked back.

What are the main benefits you feel the children get out of your project?

Confidence, respect, discipline and friendly brotherhood bonds.

BJJ kids are as cool as the adults. It’s great to see a kid with not much confidence develop over a couple of months from training BJJ. Then the usual stuff, like keeping fit and healthy, being a good person. BJJ guys are so much nicer to be around.

I have a young kid who has mild learning difficulties and it’s amazing how much he understands BJJ, his grappling is superb and he has a real passion for it.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add regarding your project?

Yes, thank you to all our funders, Sported, NHS Grants 4 Health, Community Development Fund and Stockton Council Sports Development. Also thanks to Shaun, Marty and Jamie and the guys over at MPT. Without you guys the project wouldn’t be what it is.

Our doors are always open to new guys. 13-19 year olds train for free. Friday, 6:30-7:45 at Victoria Park Community Hall, Thornaby, TS17 7HU.  You can find us on Facebook here, or ring us on 07581513841.

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu interviews Ralph Presgrave from Submit 2 Success 2

Details of Artemis BJJ Charity GrappleThon For Kinergy

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu GrappleThon 2014
T-shirt and poster design by renowned BJJ artist, Seymour ‘Meerkatsu’ Yang

What: 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 12th April 2014 until 14:00 on Sunday 13th April 2014 (for the Facebook event, click here)

Where: At our upcoming second location in the new Hit Fit venue, which is 8 Aldermoor Way, Longwell Green, Bristol, BS30 7DA

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), featuring the bow-and-arrow choke design on this post, there’s only one way: join the fundraising team on JustGiving! Full guide on how to do that here.

Why: We will be raising money to support local charity, Kinergy. They provide professional counselling to survivors of sexual abuse and rape, helping them move on with their lives. To learn more about Kinergy’s essential work, have a read of what counsellor and Artemis BJJ instructor Dónal has to say, here.

Donate: Head to our JustGiving team page, here. Thanks to all of you, we’ve already raised almost £1,400: please help us reach our £3,000 target!


Position of the Month: Mount

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Low Mount
Can has Dónal in low mount, a variation used mainly for control

At the end of last month, we learned how to transition from side control into mount.  The mount is one of two positions that are generally viewed as the most dominant in BJJ: the other is back mount, the reverse of this position. That dominance is reflected by the value ascribed to mount and back mount in competition, where either will net you four points (unless it is the superior format of submission only, where there are no points).

Although mount is arguably a better position than side control, it takes a little longer to become comfortable in mount. A beginner may feel less stable, as they are still getting used to controlling their opponent’s hips and learning how to best distribute their weight.

As with so much in jiu jitsu, the hips are key in mount. If you are sat directly on top of their hips, they can significantly affect your balance by thrusting those hips up. Therefore you need to either establish control with your legs and arms as well as your weight distribution if you’re on top of their hips, or you need to move up their body so that their hips no longer have as much impact on your balance.

Broadly speaking, mount can be split into two main variations, low mount (as per the picture above) and high mount (where you move your knees up into their armpits). There are several sub-positions, the most important of which are probably technical mount (also known as seated mount) and s-mount (a good platform for launching armbars).

From a self-defence perspective,  mount is especially dangerous, because the person on top can strike bolstered by gravity, while the person on the bottom is rendered fairly ineffective. Fortunately in our classes, you don’t have to worry about anybody punching you in the face! 🙂

As March progresses, you will be learning the classic escapes from the mount this month, the upa and the elbow escape. We’ll also look at holding the  mount, along with a few submissions from that powerful position.

Charity GrappleThon Set For April

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - End of Class
As we exchange chokes and armbars, trusting our training partners to keep us safe while we do the same for them, strong bonds of friendship are built. In other words, there is a lot of love in jiu jitsu.

Valentine’s Day is all about love and caring for others, so it seems like a good time to think about helping charity. At Artemis BJJ, we will be doing our bit through an event on the 12th April, known as a ‘GrappleThon’ (there is further information on the Facebook event page). The concept is simple: over a twenty-four hour period, there are at least two people sparring.  You can read more about it at

We have decided to support local charity Kinergy, a great organisation Dónal works for as a counsellor. They provide professional counselling to survivors of sexual abuse and rape, helping them move on with their lives. Here is what Dónal has to say about how Kinergy make the world a better place:

It’s an amazing charity with 22 volunteer counsellors that see up to three clients every week. Kinergy offers a year’s free counselling and is open to everyone, regardless of location, age or gender. It’s hard to put into words how amazing it is at Kinergy.

The waiting list is a year long: due to the lack of funding, Kinergy was forced to not take on any more referrals. It is hoping for more funding to support the service and create more referral opportunities.

Some clients come to Kinergy trying to deal with the indescribable levels of abuse they have faced, attempting to express themselves and gain some sense of what happened. Kinergy can give clients the tools to support themselves in the future.

The counselling can potentially be a huge step for a client. I have met many clients that feel they can’t speak out to get the support they need. Some abuse is hidden and spreading this message of support, even if it only reaches one survivor, could be life changing for that person.

If you would like to donate to the Kinergy Charity GrappleThon, please head over to our JustGiving team page, here. If you would like to take part – whether that is just heading down for a roll or joining in the fundraising yourself – then pop over to our Facebook or use our contact page to drop us a line.

To learn more about Kinergy or get in touch, email, head to their website or call on 0117 908 7712.

Kinergy Details Artemis BJJ Charity GrappleThon Bristol