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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
In 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.
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.
To 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.
Last Wednesday, we had a visit from the good people at One25, the charity we supported at this year’s GrappleThon. Three women joined us on the mats to learn a couple of fun submissions. Lu also presented us with a certificate to celebrate our fundraising: the total was almost £6,000 in total!
It looked like they all had a great time (there are more pictures over on our Facebook page), so hopefully we’ll see them again soon. The women’s BJJ class is held at Artemis BJJ every Wednesday from 18:25-19:25 and your first week is free, so you have nothing to lose. For more details, click here.
On Sunday 4th October, we’ll be hosting top black belt Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner at MYGYM from 12:00-15:00. Only £20, everybody welcome! Head to the event page on Facebook to confirm your attendance. 🙂
Chelsea is an active competitor at the highest level, with numerous accomplishments to her name. In 2013, she won the Dream Jiu Jitsu Sub Only, then in 2014 she earned gold at the IBJJF World Championships at brown belt.
After her promotion to black belt by Andre Galvao, she has already gone on to win a bronze at both the IBJJF World Championships and the Pan Ams. So join us on Sunday 4th October to learn from one of the elite!
Contact email@example.com if you’ve got any questions.
New and old injuries need to be treated with care. Fortunately, BJJ can be adapted around your body. In this guest blog, Tracey talks about how we’ve been able to accommodate her back injury in classes at Artemis BJJ.
I slipped a disc in my lower back about 4 years ago which caused nerve damage and I lost complete sensation in both legs. After lots of physio, I regained all feeling and use in my right leg, but still have no feeling down the left side of my left leg and foot. My balance isn’t very good now either, since my left leg doesn’t give any support (or rather, it does, but I can’t feel it!)
I do yoga twice a week to strengthen my back and core, but I have to take every precaution that I don’t hurt my back in class. After a bit of a shaky start when I wasn’t really sure what moves I could or couldn’t do, I know my capabilities and limitations now.
In class I have to avoid:
Knocks or jolts to my lower back, so I cannot have standing sweeps done on me
Footlocks on my left foot as I cannot feel them!
Things I probably do differently to everyone else:
Don’t stand up during sparring, unless partnered with a higher level belt who has the experience to alter their game to avoid sweeping me. They can also steady me if I lose my balance.
Tend to do most moves on one side only where the right leg needs the strength.
Aim for closed guard/side control positions where my back feels the safest.
How Artemis BJJ help
I now attend the mixed class more often than the women’s class. Usually, the moves are a lot more challenging on my back and new to me. To make sure I feel safe and at ease during drilling and rolling, Can (instructor):
Partners me whenever possible with Paul, a blue belt
Lets me know before the class what move will be taught. If I don’t feel safe doing it, Paul can adapt it or teach me a different one.
Is careful of who he partners me with, as I am very wary of sparring with new people
I may not be able to take part or do everything that everyone else can do, but it doesn’t matter, I can still learn jiu jitsu and be a part of the class which is great!!
Tracey has been training at Artemis BJJ for a year and brings her son along to open mat sessions. Check out her BJJ art work here
Kirsty joined the Artemis BJJ women’s class in late March, as a complete beginner. She swiftly progressed to the mixed class, then motivated a group of students from the club to join her at a competition. After only three months of training, she won a bronze medal.
It’s been fantastic to watch her develop over that time. Kirsty is always smiling and laughing, meaning that a class with Kirsty is guaranteed to be a fun class! She kindly offered to share her thoughts on what the women’s class and training at Artemis BJJ has meant to her so far.
I have never really done any martial arts before, but when I moved to Bristol from Swansea I was interested in taking up a new hobby. I was lucky enough to find the women’s only class at Artemis BJJ, as the thought of walking into a room full of big scary men was very intimidating for me.
I went to my first class, it was a small class and Can was so helpful on making sure I got the technique just right. I walked away thinking how great that was. After a two week holiday to Thailand I was quite jet lagged, so there were 3 weeks off between my sessions. At this point I was worried about how much stuff I might have missed and I am still so new, so I actually doubted coming back.
I pushed myself to go again, and it was definitely the best decision! The classes run on a cycle so you will catch up on everything that you miss, which made me feel so much better. I remember chatting with the women in class, enjoying the atmosphere and felt confident enough to jump straight into the mixed class, even after just one women’s class!
Everyone is different and the purpose of the women’s class is to learn the basics to feel comfortable in the mixed, but I jumped straight in. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of excitement, achievement, learning and enjoyment. I am completely hooked and have made some beautiful and true friends as everyone is so friendly at Artemis BJJ. You will always find someone to chat to and help you with whatever you need!
The best part about it all for me is that I’ve struggled with my body image ever since I can remember. Brazilian jiu jitsu has given me some confidence, raised my self esteem and now I feel I have really overcome a lot of issues that have held me down for so long. Also, I have lost weight and my overall fitness has improved so much, I am leaner, stronger and most of all happy with myself.
I have been training 3-4 times a week since April, and my progress has been great. Having the right people behind you, pushing you, ultimately helps you achieve your maximum potential. Competitions can be a big part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu if you want them to be, but they aren’t compulsory. However, I wanted to give it a go!
So on July 5th, after being supported by my team at Artemis, I competed and brought home a bronze medal, which is the first medal for the club and I feel so empowered as a woman. Competition isn’t for everyone but it is exciting to see your team mates develop and compete regardless!
In the space of three months, I have started training 3-4 times a week, I have grown emotionally, lost weight, developed a skill very good for self defence and have a bronze medal! Finding Brazilian jiu jitsu has been the best thing I’ve done in years!
The women’s class is a year old this month: come and join us! Your first week at Artemis BJJ is completely free, with access to all our classes. So, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. For more testimonials, click here.
Update September 2015: On a training course at her job, Kirsty had a video editing project. She produced this cool little video about what BJJ has meant to her.
On the 10th May, Laura, Kirsty and Zoe headed up to the Super Seminar at Gracie Barra Nottingham, along with Can (full write-up on slideyfoot.com). It was a co-ed event taught by four of the top female competitors in the UK, Leoni Munslow, Yas Wilson, Gret Zoeller and Vanessa English.
As well as sharing some great technique with us, the seminar was also a great opportunity for women from around the country to network and train BJJ. There are at least two future events planned, in London and Manchester: keep your eyes peeled for announcements.
A Bristol martial arts club spent 2014 investing in their belief that BJJ is the ideal martial art for women. To encourage more women to take up the sport, Artemis BJJ ran free women’s BJJ classes at MyGym in St Pauls, starting in the summer and finishing on 31 December, to build a community of female martial artists in Bristol.
“Running this class has proven that you can go from being nervous of martial arts, to grappling confidently with a complete stranger,” says Can Sönmez, instructor. Around forty women tried out the martial art and many stayed on to develop their skills.
“I’ve made some new friends and my confidence is improving,” says Tracey, a regular at the 2014 class. “It’s fun, absorbing and quite addictive!”
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is perfect for women not only because it is skill-based and allows someone of smaller stature to triumph, but also because it has a friendly and supportive training environment. The Artemis BJJ club also has a strong community focus. “People make friends, bring their children, bring their partners, try out the mixed class – it’s a great way to meet others in the local area,” adds Can.
It has been shown that BJJ can help combat depression, low self-esteem and other mental issues 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.
As well as investing in creating a more diverse BJJ community in Bristol, with a better gender balance, Artemis BJJ also contributes to the community by holding annual ‘GrappleThons’, which raise thousands of pounds for charity.
In 2014 the 24-hour ‘GrappleThon’ raised around £5,000 for Kinergy, a Bristol charity providing counselling to rape survivors. The 2015 event will take place on International Women’s Day in March and raise funds for Equality Now. “Our annual GrappleThons are one of the many ways in which Artemis BJJ proves its dedication to equality and gives back to the Bristol community,” says Can.
With 68,800 women in Bristol predicted to encounter domestic violence in their lifetime, it is more important than ever for women to learn effective techniques that may be useful for self defence.
“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. As a woman, if you are attacked in the street they’re usually after one of two things, if they’re after your valuables, just give them to them, no iPhone is worth your life. If they’re after the second you need to know how to defend yourself on the ground,” says Pippa Granger, an experienced grappler who took part in the 2014 GrappleThon.
The women’s BJJ classes take place at MyGym in St Paul’s, every Wednesday from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. All women are welcome. See www.artemisbjj.com/women for details.
The Artemis BJJ women’s class has been running since July, completely free. One of the most regular students has been Tracey, who has shown real improvement over the months she has been training. She was also the first student from the women’s class to cross over into mixed training: she and her son are now both stalwarts of the Saturday open mat too!
Leading up to the launch of the 2015 women’s class, Tracey kindly shared her thoughts on what the women’s class and BJJ has meant to her so far. If you’d like to find out more about the women’s class, head here.
I first came across Brazilian jiu jitsu a few years ago when I went to watch a friend taking part in a GrappleThon Can had organised. The event was to raise money for a UK charity, RapeCrisis. The friendly and fun atmosphere, along with the fact that there were a lot of guys raising money as well as women, made a strong impression on me.
After Can told me about the women-only class he was setting up, I wanted to go to it. I didn’t know if I could do it and questioned my age and fitness, not to mention long-standing injuries to my back and leg. But my main question was, did I have the confidence to do it? After hearing this quote, I stopped messing about and took the plunge:
If it excites you and scares the crap out of you at the same time, it probably means you should do it.
I’ve been going to the classes for a couple of months now. I also go to open mat sessions and take my son along. Learning new moves and sparring with different people is great. It’s fun, absorbing and quite addictive! I’ve made some new friends and my confidence is improving. Muscles ache now that I never knew existed, so I’m hoping for some more Radox for Christmas!!
The free trial period for the women’s class is coming to an end: from January 2015, the women’s BJJ class will be included within the standard rates (your first week will still be free, of course).