We told you back in June about the programme being started by Artemis BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) to invest in and encourage more women into martial arts. Artemis BJJ ran free 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. Artemis BJJ feel that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the ideal martial art for women, it is not only 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.
So was the initiative a success? Well, over 40 women took part in the classes over the 6 months, and many have stayed on. “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. Tracey, a regular at the class commented, “I’ve made some new friends and my confidence is improving….It’s fun, absorbing and quite addictive!”
And, because we like to try things out here at Sport Watch this was no exception. I had not previously thought about trying martial arts – the fact it was women-only did make a difference to me giving it a go. I went along to a class in the autumn and found it to be very welcoming, the instruction to be high quality and engaging and the grappling just to be awesome fun! Not only that, but while I disappointingly couldn’t commit to the class longer-term it gave me a renewed sense of my own power and the control I have over my body. Self-defence is another reason why many women come to martial arts;
“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.
Artemis BJJ deserve a big thumbs up for making a positive difference in achieving equality in their sport, and we hope many more clubs of all sporting varieties can learn from their efforts. If you fancy giving Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a go the women’s classes are continuing 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.
In addition, March will see Artemis BJJ hold their annual ‘GrappleThon’, to mark International Women’s Day and raise funds for Equality Now. In 2014 the 24-hour ‘GrappleThon’ raised around £5,000 for Kinergy, a Bristol charity providing counselling to rape survivors.