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.

Interview: Jamie Hussein from Future Champions

The third and final interview we want to share with you (click the links for the first and second in this series) from the research behind the Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine ‘BJJ in Schools’ article is from Jamie Hussein, who heads up the Future Champions project in London (visit their Facebook page here). To read the article for which this interview  was a source, pick up JJS #19.

Artemis BJJ interview with Future Champions - St Lukes Group

How would you summarise your program in a sentence?

An organisation dedicated to inspiring and supporting young people in their dreams and goals.

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

Three of us together in the UK, built on the ideas and work of Leao Teixeira in Rio, Brazil. We began by setting up a pilot project in partnership with the Met Police and a local authority primary school.

What was the biggest obstacle to getting the program underway?

In one word, Money.

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

Taking a 13 year old, who had been with us from the very first session here in the UK, to Abu Dhabi to compete at the World Pro Cup.  He met with world champions, trained at the ADCC and on the mats at the Officers Club hotel (where the many top level competitors are based for the week): it was an invaluable trip for his BJJ journey. But more than that, it made it all worthwhile seeing the smile on his face when he swam in the sea for the first time!

Artemis BJJ interview with Future Champions - ADCC pic

We’re also supporting another remarkable young man, in his application to Cambridge University for 2014, fingers crossed.

What has been the biggest ongoing challenge?

Again, money. We began in 2008, just at the beginning of the financial collapse, which has been hard to contend with, but this also positively shows what we can achieve on pure goodwill alone. Another major challenge was trying to get the continuing and ongoing support from the Met Police in the pilot project we started together.

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

Respect for themselves, the discipline to succeed in anything they choose to do and a sense of responsibility for their actions. We hope that they not only succeed in their chosen field, but they remember their duty to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and become a champion in the truest sense of the word.

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

Our project is just one of many out there around the country trying to do what is right in relation to children and young people. We hope that the government wakes up and realises, before it is too late, that schooling is not just about passing a test. Sports and martial arts in particular are an important tool in providing a much needed balance in the education of our young people.

Artemis BJJ interview with Future Champions - Students

Pictures courtesy of Jamie Hussein

Position of the Month: Open Guard

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Overhead Sweep
Open guard has many applications: here it is being used to send Can flying through the air

Having covered closed and half guard, we are now moving on to what is the third and most varied type, open guard. In closed guard, your legs are around the waist of your opponent, while in half you’ve captured one of their legs. Eventually, you will find that your opponent has been able to disengage your legs: that’s where open guard comes in.

With open guard, you do not necessarily start out attached to your opponent: your legs and arms can be in a vast number of different configurations, which results in countless open guard sub-types. Some of them involve grips on the legs, others manipulate the gi, some rely on hooking with the feet.

This month, we will be focusing on some of the more common sub-types of open guard. Can will be starting off with some basic advice on approaching open guard, while Dónal kicked things off at Impact Gym yesterday with de la Riva guard. That’s one of the most popular open guard positions, where one leg is wrapped around the outside of your partner’s leg, hooking the inside with your foot.

We look forward to helping you navigate the complex terrain of open guard!

New Venue & Timetable | Local Competition 15th June

BJJ Bristol Artemis Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Instructors Can & DonalIn an exciting move for Artemis BJJ, we’re shifting our second location from Longwell Green to the Impact Gym. That means we can expand our timetable, adding on a no gi class for Saturday. The full schedule is up on the Classes page.

Impact Gym is easy to reach. If you’re on a bike, it’s right off the cycle path, by the Acacia Road exit. By bus, the number 6 will take you there from the centre. There’s a map over on the Locations page, which we’ll be updating with further directions and details on parking.

As you can see from the Classes page, back at Bristol Sports Centre we’re also going to be bringing in a women’s class on Wednesdays, starting 30th July (having done a successful test a little while ago). That will be free for a month: we’ll be putting up more info closer to the time.

Finally, for those of you looking to compete, there’s a local option on Sunday 15th June at Bristol Dojo. Competing isn’t essential in your BJJ journey, but it is worth trying at least once to see if you enjoy it. If you are planning on entering (you can register here for a tenner: the price goes up a bit after the 8th June), let us know and we can help you prepare.

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