In many cases, seminars are a waste of time and money in exchange for a photo op with a famous jiu-jitsu guy or gal. It’s tough to really get your money’s worth when learning from your jiu-jitsu idol because so often the moves they are teaching require a higher degree of understanding than most in the room will possess. There are, however, some things you can do to get the most out of a seminar. Here are five pointers that I’ve observed/picked up:
- Ask questions. It might seem like you’re being annoying, it might feel awkward, but seminars cost a lot of money; therefore, make sure that if you don’t 100% understand what has been taught, you are able to get the details needed to be able to understand it. Don’t be shy. Ask as many questions as you need to ask. I generally like to wait until drilling time to ask these questions so that I don’t feel like I’m under the scrutiny of the entire room, but a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. Make sure to write down the answers you get.
- Take notes. Bring a notebook to any seminar you go to. Even if you don’t wind up writing anything down, even if you don’t learn from taking notes, have a notebook with you anyways. You never know what details you may glean that in that moment you feel compelled to write down.
- Have your cell phone (for video). No don’t be an idiot and record the person teaching the seminar when you’ve been told not to… BUT there’s never any rule against recording oneself performing the technique being taught. I once was a friend’s uke in a Lucas Lepri private lesson. We wanted to record the private lesson, but Lucas didn’t let us, so we had him record us doing the technique he had just shown us. We did the lesson five years ago, and I still have it. Just make sure you turn off the ringer on your cell phone so it doesn’t cause disruption.
- Choose your training partner wisely. My favorite seminar experiences have been enhanced not by the person who taught the seminar but by the fact that I had a focused training partner who was around my size. I like to try to pick people who I already know and are a belt higher than me. The better the training partner the better you’ll be able to absorb information.
- Choose your seminars wisely. If you are looking for wrestley jiu-jitsu techniques, don’t attend a seminar taught by the Miyao brothers. If you’re looking to refine existing fundamentals, consider going with old school guys who are known for their fundamentals. I’ve heard people complain about a competitor only teaching “moves” at their seminars. Well yeah, that’s what competitors focus on; they haven’t gotten to a point where they need to actively think about fundamentals because they have them ingrained in their movement and thoughts. Don’t waste money on a seminar taught by a 21-year-old World Champion if you don’t already have sound fundamentals. Chances are you won’t learn much. If you want to learn really cool moves but have no interest in learning how to make your shrimp better, don’t spend your money on a Henry Akins seminar.
These are just five ways to increase the likelihood that you’ll get the most out of seminars. What are some of the ways you ensure this for yourself?