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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

08 March 2020

Refugee Women of Bristol GrappleThon, 7th-8th March 2020

Class #1229
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 07-08/03/2020

bjj grapplethon charity Bristol Artemis BJJ Brazilian jiu jitsu

I'm writing this up the following week, when the coronavirus pandemic has really begun to hit Europe hard. I was uncertain about how it would affect the GrappleThon last week, but seven days ago (the 8th March feels like a different world now!), the situation did not seem as serious. There were definitely less people than usual, but enough to keep us going through the night.

In terms of rolling, I had a great spar with Piotr, who is always great to train with. He's much bigger and stronger, but has that rare skill of being able to adjust his intensity level to whoever he is sparring with. I also got to roll with one of my best friends, Weronika. It was so good to see her again, it's been too long! Last time was Summer 2019, I've missed her.

My favourite part of the GrappleThon, as usual, was playing DnD. My student Dan is a fantastic DM, he runs most of the games at GrappleThons (I still need to finish the write-up from last year's event). Due to the smaller numbers, there weren't enough people to keep the grappling going without us. As I REALLY wanted to play DnD, I went with the 'why not both' approach: a surprisingly tiring combination. ;)

Another major highlight for me was something I've been waiting to do for a number of years. Weronika has moved around quite a bit since I first met her in 2016 (when she was training in Wales). She's been through multiple countries, currently in France. That means she has been under multiple instructors. I have rolled with her many times over the years, plus watched her roll with people of all sizes, from white to black belt. So I felt totally confident to promote her to blue belt. Supremely proud, and quite emotional. ❤️

Naturally the most important part of the event is raising money for a good cause. Given all the nasty xenophobic behaviour that's been unleashed by Brexit and the right wing government that have been pushing the country to shoot itself in the foot, I wanted to pick a charity that represented the better nature of the UK. So, I went with Refugee Women of Bristol, a great local charity near to the gym. So far, we've raised almost £3,000, with more due to come in over the next month. If you'd like to help out, you can donate here.

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