Dion Watts Talks With JiuJitsuSweep.com

For some of us old schoolers who grew up around a time when mixed martial arts was in it’s infancy, you may have been witness to the evolution of the way fighting is thought of and trained, of the last few decades mma and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have gone hand in hand , almost two in the same. The name Machado when being mentioned brings up thoughts of the old country, as big of a name as Gracie , the Machados have etched their way into BJJ history , brothers Carlos, John, Jean-Jacques, Roger, and Rigan have trained hundreds, if not thousands of BJJ specialists over the years. Some big names of today s BJJ game can have their roots traced back to one of the original families of BJJ.

 

One of those names that comes to mind is Machado black belt Dion Watts, owner of Simi Valley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and  Watts MMA & Fitness respectively. We had the chance to talk with the Baseball Choke specialist and get his thoughts on todays BJJ scene , we hope you enjoy the interview as much as we had interviewing him.

JiuJitsuSweep.com:

Dion , thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, before we begin we just wanted to say,  you have killer collar choke instructionals.

Dion Watts:
Awesome thanks!

JiuJitsuSweep.com:

First off let’s find out how you got started in BJJ, what was the spark that ignited your passion for the Arte Suave?
Dion Watts:
I’ve always been a Martial Arts enthusiast thanks to my early exposure to Bruce Lee movies. A few years of Kempo Karate when I was young gave no special indication that I was to make Martial Arts my career someday but it did give me the tools to survive the few grade school altercations I fell into. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I journeyed back into Martial Arts to fill the void I was feeling in my life. I was a pipe fitter by trade and a local musician by night but I needed a new outlet. I danced around from discipline to discipline during that first year trying to decide which one was best. I felt kind of like the three bears looking for the perfect bed. I tried Aikido because of Steven Segal movies but found it did not resemble what he used on film at all. I tried Kung Fu since it was where Bruce Lee started but it was all Kata’s at the school I attended and I just needed more. It was while I was attending the Kung Fu dojo that a friend told me about the Gracie’s and asked me to watch a class. The school was Relson Gracie’s and it was at the University of Hawaii at the time. I walk in to see about 30 people lying on the ground grappling and I naively told my friend, “I would never fight on the ground” and we left without my giving it a try.
    About a month later the first U.F.C. took place and there was a buzz at my Kung Fu dojo about it. My friend lent me a copy of the video and my jaw dropped. Royce Gracie was the new Bruce Lee for me. I don’t know if I broke any speed laws but I flew back to Relson’s to try my first class. I don’t remember much more than having my Ass handed to me by other white belts and coming home talking non stop about this new found love I had. I knew in the beginning that someday I would have my own school and teach this wonderful Art.
JiuJitsuSweep.com:
A lot of people have said the first UFC was the defining moment on when they had made the decision to begin training BJJ, it was a huge milestone in regards to the evolution of fighting and how it is perceived , it has also been responsible for creating a new sport, in BJJ.
You are a black belt under Jean Jacques Machado, since he is one of the pioneers of the sport, do you feel he makes it difficult to earn a higher rank, does he make his students work for the next higher belt?
Dion Watts:
 I came to Jean Jacques Machado a Blue belt under Relson Gracie and didn’t really give it much thought at first. I had just moved from Hawaii to California. Just to find another Legend to train with felt like a stroke of incredible luck. I wouldn’t say that he makes it extra difficult to earn a higher rank but I would say I have never figured out exactly what he looks for when promoting his students. That in itself can become very frustrating. I would do anything and everything from competing and winning medals to proving myself with higher belts. It almost seemed like it didn’t matter what I did because it was never exactly what he was looking for. Although I always felt like I was way overdue for my next belt, it was only when I stopped focusing on it would he promote me. It took me almost 12 years to get my Black Belt and I loved every day of it.
JiuJitsuSweep.com:
That being said there is some controversy in the grappling world regarding professors who advance their students ” too quickly”, do you feel it is important for a student to “marinate” in their current belt rank  before awarding them the next belt up?
Dion Watts:
  I was a white Belt for two years. At the time it felt right. Jiu-Jitsu is now big business and unfortunately it has to appease the American public who expects everything quickly. A hardcore school that marinates its students in belts does not attract the number of students that a school with a quicker promotion time-line does.  It seems now if a student marinates too long it is looked at like “Sand bagging”. The rules are constantly changing. Youtube, DVDs, and countless books make learning 10x easier than the days that I came up through the ranks. Maybe it shouldn’t take 10 years to get a Black belt anymore.
JiuJitsuSweep.com:
The videos being posted online including Youtube have made it easier for people who would otherwise not be able to train , or those who are currently training but watch online videos to have a broader range of techniques , to learn quicker and rise through the ranks faster. Competition is also a great way to advance rank, Being involved in competition Dion, how do feel about the growing trend in submission-only tournaments, do you feel it will help or hurt the sport?
Dion Watts :
I like that there are tournaments with differences. Submission only came about because of the growing number of fighters who just played the point game, leaving spectators unsatisfied. Unfortunately submission only tournaments leave spectators unsatisfied and confused when matches often end in a draw with no winner. Not sure what the solution is but I am happy with both. I get just as excited sometimes by a solid sweep or guard pass as I do a submission. When you appreciate Jiu-Jitsu as I do it’s all beautiful.
JiuJitsuSweep.com:
Couldn’t agree more, when you train BJJ or even understand what is happening , you begin to analyze and appreciate the techniques by both competitors. Because the explosion in mma and the UFC, we feel BJJ should also be as popular, that being said ,  what are your thoughts on the current state of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, do you feel it has peaked, will peak, or continue on an upward trend?
Dion Watts :
I’d like to think it is still on an upward trend. Unlike most other Martial Arts “Jiu-Jitsu” is constantly changing. New moves are invented, old moves are rediscovered. The UFC is still king and Jiu-Jitsu can be found in every fighter that succeeds. There is no other addiction like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
JiuJitsuSweep.com:
Dion, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions, i understand you are a very busy person with Simi Valley BJJ and we look forward to more of your tutorials online, thank you .
Dion Watts :
Thank You and hope I was at least a little interesting LOL.
Dion Watts owns Simi Valley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is located at

4210 E. Los Angeles Ave, Ste. D
Simi Valley, CA 93063

805 910-SVJJ
805 910-7855

 

 

Video of Dion Watts executing his signature choke, Baseball Choke in competition