A quick look at my training with awesome people pages or my instagram account shows that I’ve been very lucky through my jiu jitsu and been able to attend a range of awesome seminars. The past month or so has seem to be seminar overload with Robson Moura, Girls in Gis, Mackenzie Dern, Leoni Munslow and Michael Liera all in my diary.
Its always hard to write seminar review blogs that don’t bore people to tears plus I’m aware that peoples access to seminars does vary (due to both locations and costs) so i thought it would be more useful to share my thoughts on seminars generally and how do you make sure you get the most out of the seminars you attend.
Set Realistic Expectations First – This falls into 4 key areas:
- Seminar attendance unfortunately doesn’t automatically catapult your BJJ to the next level no matter who it is. You will not learn awesome moves via osmosis.
- You may not remember everything. In the space of two hours you may get a lot of content thrown at you it might not all stick!
- Some of the content may go completely over your head because it doesn’t suit your game right now or simply because you’re not yet at a skill level where you have all the basic BJJ tools to pull it off!
- Being an epic competitor doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to be a great coach. Sometimes you may just not click with them. It may be how they break down technique, language difficulties or they may be showing stuff just too advanced for you to use. If you get a duff seminar, reflect on why (it’s sometimes you – bad day etc) but please be professional and don’t post it all over the internet. You’ll just end up in a keyboard war as for every person who didn’t like it someone will have! Plus at the end of the day these guys have to earn a living.
Respect the host gym – Gyms have their own traditions beyond standard BJJ rule etiquette. They may feel odd but its important not to be disrespectful to your hosts. When in Rome and all that! Common ones include:
- Gi colour – Most gyms relax this rule for visitors and seminars but it’s worth checking. To be safe I tend to ensure I have one nice patch free white gi just for seminars / visiting.
- Before practising a technique they may clap hands and say “Oss” before a technique (one of my personal favs as I’m often that person who claps a split second too late!)
- Bowing. Some bow to a picture of Helio Gracie as part of their line ups. Some bow to everyone through their line up as well as shaking hands.
Pick your Partner – I’ve had an epic technical seminar ruined by being stuck with a significantly larger, slightly uncooperative partner. Try and sort out your partner in advance either through training or who you’re travelling with. At new gyms I’ve been known to deliberately go with Old Munki especially when I’m the only girl. He might be 6ft 3 but he’s my safe 6ft 3!
Ask questions – There is normally a Q&A section at the end of a seminar. Nobody likes that awkward silence. Think of at least one thing you’d like to ask. Did they just do something epic you’d like to ask them about? What’s there go to pass? What is their highest percentage submission from X? How do they deal with Y? Weight cutting? Competition nerves? Take the opportunity to pick people’s brains. Plus I can guarantee if you ask one question other people will ask them too!
If you get chance to roll then do! – Not every seminar will include rolling or it may only be for the higher belts but if you get the opportunity then take it. The first time I rolled with a Black Belt was JT Torres after a seminar and I loved it. I was very much his cool down roll but at it was a great opportunity and I was so glad I did it! I just really enjoyed being able to experience the movement, lack of space and general mojo!
Take Photos – But get permission first. Not everyone will allow video especially of techniques but most are ok regarding photos. However as well as the group photo you can usually get an individual photo. It’s what social media was created for! If you’re really lucky sometimes you even get a like / follow / retweet and potentially can have a total fan girl moment!!
Thank the instructor and the host – Although common sense and something that only takes a few minutes to do but it’s so easily forgotten. Quite often seminars are sold by word of mouth and are often over subscribed. A bit of good manners to the host can go a long way in ensuring you get the heads up for the next time someone is visiting.
Take notes and try to find some drilling time – Your going to exposed to a host of new material so try to make notes either during or after the seminar. Even if it’s just the key technique you loved. Similarly it’s very rare for techniques to stick after two hours. Find some time during open mat or whenever works for you to drill the techniques you’ve covered. Ideally get together with any training partners that attended so you can piece bits together if you get stuck.
Then it’s time for the fun that is unleashing a new techniques you’ve picked up at a seminar on your unsuspecting teammates in rolling!
Hope you find my perspective useful. Feel free to comment or get in touch to let me know anything I’ve missed or that you’ve found helpful.