Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a James Clingerman seminar where Justin Curtis received his black belt in BJJ. It got me thinking about seminars and the important role they play in the Jiu-Jitsu community.
I’ve never been much for seminars; in fact, before this year I’d only ever attended one seminar, and that was because it was raising money for someone in need. My mind-set used to be along the lines that they were a waste of money. I thought that I was paying a large amount of money for a couple of quick, but otherwise normal techniques I would have learned in class anyways; but since I was getting them in a seminar, they would be rushed and difficult to remember.
This year, however, I have attended three seminars, and my mind-set has completely changed. The first of these seminars was with Anibal Braga – which I previously wrote about – a 7th degree red and black belt. I was exposed to a style of grappling that I was truly unfamiliar with. Braga is the master of using the lapel in just about everything. While there, he explained that Keenan Cornelius was not really inventing the worm guard, but that he was re-introducing it to the grappling world; Braga had been using it for years. He didn’t say this to be derogatory towards Cornelius, in fact he praised him for it; he brought it up to make a point: getting outside of our comfort zone allows us to be exposed to more styles than what we are used to. Seminars are an absolutely perfect way to do this.
I was also able to attend a Dan Severn seminar this year as well. It’s been said that people should never meet their idols, because it will ruin their opinion of them. Maybe that’s true for some who hold unrealistic expectations of those they admire but for me, I really enjoyed getting to meet an idol of mine. He was very down-to-earth and personable. Severn made the whole seminar experience very enjoyable by just being a likeable guy; by being normal. Unless you live in an area where you are able to bump into the legends of your sport on a regular basis, seminars are one of the only viable ways to meet some of the best athletes out there.
For gym owners and instructors, seminars are also invaluable. Bringing in other instructors adds another layer of validity to your own school. Students see another high level grappler come to the gym which almost acts as an endorsement from the visiting instructor. Another plus, is it gives instructors the chance to also learn something outside of the realm in which they would normally teach. It shakes things up and keeps courses from becoming stale.
All-in-all, seminars are always going to be valuable. A grappler may go to a seminar and not learn anything new, but the experience is likely to provide some insight into how they play their own game and how it could be improved.
If you have the chance to attend a seminar, I would highly recommend it. There are too many positives to be gained by going. Intentionally missing out – when able to attend – is only detrimental to your own game. Show up, and be ready to improve.