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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

10 April 2016

09-10/04/2016 - GrappleThon for One25 (London Edition)

Mike Cowling has been coming to the GrappleThons I run in Bristol for several years now. I first met him in 2013 when we were raising money for RapeCrisis (he's on the far left here), then again at last year's event for Equality Now (second from right on the bottom row). He was part of the dedicated twenty-hour crew this year too, but in 2016 went the extra mile by deciding to host a twenty-four hour GrappleThon himself a few weeks later, also supporting One25.

Thanks to Mike and his team, the total for One25 has had a considerable boost. Along with a big donation from BrisDoc among others, it means that at the time of writing the JustGiving total is over £5,000, which jumps up to over £6,000 when you add in gift aid. That's the second highest total we've ever managed: well done to all the fundraisers!

Mike added in lots of extras to his event at the London Wing Chun Academy, with food, massages and t-shirts. There were raffles and even a mini arcade, costing 20p to have a go on UFC 2. Incorporating that 'donate to play' model is a great idea, so I think I'll copy it for the next GrappleThon I do. Oscar mentioned bringing down a console, something we could perhaps put upstairs and turn into a sort of 'chill out' room. ;)

It's the second GrappleThon Mike has done at the school, having run a smaller event as part of ROLLforROWW late last year. That was squeezed into the side mats as he fit it around the school schedule. Mike also sent over pictures on the hour for the GrappleThon Instagram. I popped in briefly on my way through London, but didn't take part as I had a fresh tattoo healing on my arm.

This time around, I could stay much longer and actually take part. Mike kicked things off at 08:30am, sending over a few pics on Facebook like last time. I headed down to London in the afternoon (meeting up with an old friend I haven't seen in years, which was cool: we wandered round the National Gallery chatting), dropping off a banner and collection box afterwards at about 6pm. After a delicious meal of top notch Turkish food with my father at Babaji, I was finally ready to stay for the long haul from around 10pm through to the end at 08:30am on Sunday.

Mike's GrappleThons have already developed a tradition: at some point during the night, people put on masks. There was only one luchador at the ROLLforROWW edition, who was joined by two more this time around. The atmosphere reminded me of the first GrappleThon I ever ran, back in 2012. Most people were from the same team, though there were a few visitors from other BJJ clubs (like Hiren, another GrappleThon stalwart, plus people from Mill Hill and of course me). I look forward to seeing this grow, as Mike has said he wants to make it an annual event. Hooray for more GrappleThons! Especially as because I wasn't running it, I treated myself to a brief power nap at 3am or so. Refreshing. ;)

Class #710
Origin BJJ (London Wing Chun Academy), Open Mat, London, UK - 09-10/04/2016

I was keeping things chilled out as usual, but got in quite a bit more sparring than normal. Mostly that was relaxed flopping on top of people, or staying in open guard and fencing with my legs. I did have one slightly harder roll, mainly because I joined in the mask excitement and pulled on a fetching Deadpool number. It means you get hotter and sweatier, but the main drawback is reduced vision. At one point the eyeholes slipped away from me while my partner was going for a choke from the back. Fortunately he crossed his feet, so I could anklelock my way to safety. :)

A photo posted by @grapplethon on

I also played around with the material I'd learned earlier on Saturday at RGA Bucks, throwing up a few reverse triangles, as well as attempting that worm guard sweep Kev showed me. The main issue with that was tempting them to stand up enough that I could bring the lapel behind the leg. I think I need to swing out more to get the necessary space, but I'll keep playing with it.

I went for lots of armbars too. With the armbar grip break I learned from Matt H a while back, I wasn't getting low enough on the arm to generate leverage. That could mean my initial grip is too high, I'll need to practice it some more at open mat. I should get behind their arm better too, blocking them with my body. Saulo has a good video on that I want to rewatch.

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