Roundtable Discussion 015: Seminars & Training

We asked our author panel consisting of five professional martial art teachers this question:

“Do you make attending seminars a part of your training? If not, why?  And if so, briefly explain why and ONE workshop/lecture/camp you went to this year that was the most beneficial.”

Michael Joyce  |  GTS / ChenCenter

While tremendous gains can be made through solo training, nothing can substitute another set of eyes and, more importantly, another individual with experiences and perspectives unique from your own.  We are continuously learning, experimenting, but as someone once said, “We all see the world through our own distorted Coke bottle.”  Although we might think that this or that technique is completely fool-proof… nothing is.  Discovering new ways, or more efficient or effective means with dealing with a scenario or technique often demands the experiences and insights of another; this is where seminars and workshops are highly beneficial.

Personally, I try to visit between 2-3 workshops a year.  Cost-wise there are constraints (mainly because I’m a licensed therapist as well and must also pay for Continuing Education).  But if you want to be “competitive” in a market and (at the same time) feel confident that you are doing everything you can to succeed in your trade, seminars/lectures/workshops are a must!

In 2010, I visited two workshops that helped me immensely.  As someone with a passion for the ground-game, I was thrilled when both Ryron and Rener Gracie made a trip so close to my hometown in North Carolina.  Both Brandon and I attended these workshops and their respective articles can be seen here : A New Passion and Secret to GJJ Mastery.  While it is impossible to choose between between these two tremendous teachers, all I’ll say is that I love and am continuing to work on perhaps the most important element of control, the super-hooks!  [Article on this coming at some point. Stay tuned!]

Freddie Lee  | Freddie’s Modern Kungfu

No. I have children to care for, a wife to spend time with, & a school to run. While I am running the school, it is my science lab. Discoveries & creations are made, this is much more valuable than any seminar in my eyes. I teach people that the truth is within themselves, not within outside resources.

Robert Lara  |  Four Winds Aikido

Yes! I do! I do as much as I can. From youth my Judo Sensei told me to respect all arts and use what you can. Seminar’s with Sosa Sensei were.. well a turning point for me. Big time in my life. At that moment I knew I would train Aikido and I would be a Sensei. That was my dream. So without Seminars I never would have met Sosa Sensei and may have never had a chance to train Aikido again. I say go to them with an open mind. You never know. You could find your art or your path in the arts.

T.J. Kennedy  |  Hybrid Fighting Method

Attending seminars whenever I have the opportunity to do so is an integral part of my training. Seminars allow you to learn potentially new skills, from a different perspective than your own, as well as network and train with a variety of different people.

When I attend some seminars, I find them useless and a waste of time. Other seminars, though, have proven beneficial to my training and combat preparedness.

One example was the Luke Holloway seminar that I hosted in Canada back in September of 2011. I got to get a glimpse of his RAW COMBAT. Although what Luke teaches differs from me, it is highly compatible, and has also helped to fill in some gaps and/or expand my training to further limits.

I am fortunate to have him back here on December 17th and 18th again for some more valuable training.

Johnny Kuo  |  I-Liq Chuan

Attending seminars has been an important part of my training. I have found several benefits from learning in a seminar environment. Seminars have provided an opportunity to meet and train with teachers with whom I would not normally be able to interact. It was in seminars that I was able to meet and train with Zhu Tiancai, Yang Jwing-Ming, and Sam F.S. Chin. None of these teachers were close enough for me to attend their regular classes. Going to a seminar allowed me to tap into some of their knowledge and delve into their arts.

I’ve also met a good number of martial artists at seminars whom I would not have met otherwise. Seminars provided a common learning environment which allowed me to interact with martial artists from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. Without attending those seminars, it would have been easy to fall into a rut and continue training in a cloistered world. Those interactions helped expand my understanding and forged bonds of friendship.

These days, life keeps me too busy to attend as many seminars as I used to, but I still feel seminars are a useful learning tool. Attending seminars is the primary means by which I get feedback on my training. Since I don’t live near my Sifu, seminars are where Sifu can assess my progress and give me pointers on how to advance my skill. Seminars are also where I get a chance to cross hands with my gongfu brothers and sisters. Expressing martial arts skills requires touch feedback, preferably with as many skilled people as possible. Seminars allow me to interact with more people and get more opportunities develop the feel for the art.

Brandon Vaughn  |  Sanshinkai Karate

Running a karate school full time doesn’t leave me much time to focus on my own training, at least not to the extent that I would like. This is especially true when it comes to exploring other styles that I have an interest in. Attending martial arts seminars gives me the opportunity to learn more about other styles as well as meet other martial artist and instructors. This year I had the opportunity to attend a couple of seminars that I enjoyed immensely and learned a lot from. I absolutely love learning new things and the more I learn the more knowledge I have to pass onto my students. This makes it easy to keep my classes fresh and exciting.

The seminar that I actually found most beneficial actually didn’t involve self defense, weapons, or kata but teaching. It was Dave Kovar’s Instructor College that my wife and I attended at the 2011
M.A. Supershow in June.

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