BJJ black belt, ADCC, Polaris and Quintet veteran Daniel Strauss a.k.a ‘Raspberry Ape’ has released an eight-part miniseries on YouTube called ‘Stones and Strangles’. Since releasing an episode every Tuesday and Friday, the series has rolled to an end. The last episode was released Aug.14. ‘Stones and Strangles’ takes place in the Scottish Highlands, where Strauss continues his UK BJJ seminar tour while traveling to find, and lift, some of Scotland’s most notorious and heaviest stones.
The documentary gives you an insight into Strauss, his grappling style, his coaching and his hobbies outside of BJJ, such as stone lifting. In the first episode, he ventures to Dundee to teach a side-control seminar in ‘The Grapple Chapel,’ a quirky chapel where you can actually roll. Crazy right? Throughout the rest of the series, he focuses on stone lifting and the history that comes with it. The episodes are around 8-20 minutes long.
While he appears to be on a wild goose chase looking for seemingly ambiguous rocks, Strauss never leaves disappointed. He always manages to find — and lift — the stones. As someone who doesn’t know much about Strongman training and stone lifting, I still found the series to be incredibly engaging because of the stories Strauss spills out, and the “will he, will he not?” aspect that comes when he tries to lift some of the heaviest stones in Scotland.
In episode three, The Raspberry Ape revisits the most famous manhood stone in Scotland, the Inver Stone. The episode pays tribute at the start to June Richards, who sadly passed away shortly after the documentary was filmed. Richards lived in the house where the Inver Stone rests outside. There is a record kept of people who have successfully lifted the 120kg stone, and they write a little piece in a book that is kept in her house. Strauss looks through it, but can he add his name to it?
There’s quirky bits in between episodes to help keep minds amused, such as the out-of-tune horn blowing, reuniting a sheep with its mother, and accidentally killing a rabbit, but you’ll see all of that when you watch it. The famous Dinnie Stones in Aberdeen are revisited by Strauss in episode four, where he teaches a seminar on his notorious submission: the guillotine. Weighing in at over 330kg, the stones combined are not exactly the easiest lift. Strauss reflects back to when he successfully lifted the stones and tries a take two. Among those who have lifted the Dinnie Stones successfully are strongmen, Eddie Hall, Brian Shaw, Robert Oburst and more (which you find out throughout the episode.)
In episode six, Strauss meets with ‘The Stoneman’ in a church ruins to learn about the Barevan Stone, and lifts it, despite wet weather conditions that made it more difficult. The series comes to a close visiting one of the heaviest and oldest manhood stones on the trip – the Fianna Stone. There is also an interview with The Stoneman on The Raspberry Ape podcast if you’re interested.
With scenic views of the Scottish Highlands, BJJ seminars, and a big guy lifting big things, what’s not to like? To watch the full series, head over to The Raspberry Ape’s YouTube channel, where you will find all of the episodes.
To read my most recent article ‘A Conversation with Merseyside’s First BJJ Black Belt – Paul Rimmer’ click here.