I had the pleasure this weekend to visit Philly and I must tell you, Philly is awesome!
My first contact in Philly was almost 3 years ago through Steve Austin and Greg Johnson, Steve owns and operates Sion BJJ. I first met Steve and Greg both very briefly at the Helio 100 event. They contacted me with an interest of having me out for a seminar done at their school. I was happy to go, I would get to travel and see a new place (one of my favorite things to do) and I would get to teach and train Jiu-Jitsu!
Upon arrival Steve picked me up and we immediately went to the gym as I had a private with one of his purple belts, Jesse. The coolest thing about that private was that it set the tone for the entire weekend. Jesse was incredible cool and respectful and very eager to learn. The reason why I say that the private with Jesse set the tone was because a school's personality is very much dependent on its instructor. So right away I knew Steve must be doing some good work at his establishment, I had never visited Steve's school before so I had no idea what to expect, it was a very pleasant surprise.
During my first visit (and every other visit since), I got to know Steve, Greg and others like Jesse in a very personal level; I consider them family now.
Through Steve I met Alberto, owner of Miloki Flow. This last weekend, Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting and teaching a seminar at Miloki Flow. Very much like Steve, I would like to congratulate Alberto on cultivating such an welcoming environment.
I had an great time teaching there and getting to know everyone! I hope to be back in the future. Thank you all that managed to make it out to this seminar.
Saturday and Sunday were Sion time!
Saturday I got to teach an escape seminar, we took perilous situations and analyzed and broke them down to a root cause and then we learned how to escape them. Sunday we worked on Leg Lock attacks, combos, follow ups and how to properly attack them; as well as when is it appropriate to use them.
After Saturday's seminar we all went out to a Russian Bath house, if you have never been to one I recommend it, for some much needed recovery.
Then we went and watched UFC196, which was a thrilling proof that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is the most dominant fighting system. Props to both Tate and Holm. Holm for taking a fight she didnt have to and for demonstrating grace in defeat and being fueled by her loss to improve and become better; Tate for showing that hard work and perseverance does pay off. Along the same lines congratulations for both Diaz and McGregor. Diaz and McGregor both accepted to fight in less than 2 weeks, both came in and did their best, neither of them had to do that but they both accepted it and put it all on the line. The two things I appreciated the most about the Diaz x McGregor fight wasnt even the fact that Jiu-Jitsu won that fight, rather it was Diaz's path to victory and McGregor's mental state from the loss. Diaz held on to the firm belief that Jiu-Jitsu was the way to beat a striker, specially one of McGregor's caliber, and he stuck to that; his faith in Jiu-Jitsu and his discipline paid off.
McGregor's mental state after the loss was to me a very surprising thing. I am not one to appreciate his antics or anyone's antics for that matter, but I understand that he does what he does to sell a fight a make money, it is business after all. However after the loss there was no antics, no excuses, nothing other than him stating what he learned from it. While being interviewed backstage on his way to the post-fight conference he was asked what was next for McGregor and he said something along the lines of "I'm going to get a drink and celebrate, I must celebrate, adversity means I still have room to grow to become better. I learned things in this fight, and I know now what I must do to become better. I have failed before, but I have never been kept down I will come back better and stronger."
What McGregor said is something very similar to what Grand-Master Carlos Gracie once said "There is no loss in Jiu-Jitsu, you only win or learn". If we were all to have the same mental strength as Diaz to believe in our abilities and McGregor's in a loss, well we would all be better versions of ourselves. Just like Tate showed us that hard work pays off, and Holm taught us to be graceful and fueled to become better in a moment of adversity. We ought to take something away from these four fighters. My hat is off to them, I don't wear one but you get what I mean.
I had an absolute blast watching the fights and hanging out with everyone! Thank you all for being awesome. As always Sion BJJ's environment does not ever fail to impress me, I feel very much as if I am home here.
So back to the what I was saying in the beginning, as I got to know Steve more and more over the last few years I have come to appreciate his journey. He was someone that had physical disabilities in his legs growing up and was thought to never be able to do any "normal" sports. They were right, not that Steve couldn't do it, but that he would not do "normal sports". He worked hard, and got into martial arts at a young age, eventually he found Jiu-Jitsu, and showed everyone that didn't believe in him that he could do everything that a "normal" person could and then some. If you train I don't have to explain why leg mobility and control is so important, but if you don't trust me I don't know of any other activity that requires more dexterity and control and mobility of your lower body than Jiu-Jjitsu.
He essentially proved to everyone around him the ability that Jiu-Jitsu has to cure each of us; if you are timid it gives you confidence, if you're arrogant it teaches you humility, if you are anxious it teaches you peace, if you are weak it gives you power, if you have power it teaches you to control it. In Steve's case it changed his life, gave him confidence, and gave him the ability he wanted.
Furthermore because of this Steve has fallen in love with Jiu-Jitsu very much like all of us that train Jiu-Jitsu. I can see the level of passion he has for the art in the way he treats his students, and the way they treat him back. They are all as passionate, eager, knowledge-thristy and incredibly welcoming and fun people. Like I said before an academy's personality is raised, cultivated and maintained by the Head Instructor, and Steve has done a phenomenal job.
If you ever considered training, or train somewhere, and you quit or are unhappy with your training is usually mostly due to the academy's atmosphere. I believe that at Sion you'd be welcomed and comfortable. I see it in his students, I see that he pushes them to better themselves on and off the mat very much like I do. Keep up the good work Steve!
As always I'm looking forward to visiting you guys and Philly again!