Most bjj academies, even those with an advanced black belt professor of jiu-jitsu, will hold a seminar or two every year. A high level bjj compeititor or instructor will roll through town and schedule a one or two day training seminar, usually focusing on a single position.
It is a great chance to get on the mat with one of the sport’s superstars. How many other sports superstars would the average practitoner have a chance to share the mat with? Can you imagine being a recreational basketball player and having the opportunity to play a little one-on-one with Lebron James or Kobe Bryant?
Yet at a bjj seminar you may well have the chance to roll with and experience getting choked by jiu-jitsu royalty!
Some students are enthusiastic and can’t wait to pay their deposit to secure their space in the event. Meanwhile others are decidedly less than interested.
When I express my surprise that a training partner is not interested and ask why, they grumble that it is “too expensive” – often from someone who has a well paying career – or that “they can learn all of this from our academy instructor”.
To these objections, I counter with the following points:
1) “It’s too expensive” – What price do you put on learning some new information that adds a game-changing position or technique to your game?
Yes, the price of admission to the seminar might be the same as what you pay for an entire month tuition at your home academy.
I say that I forget the price of the seminar long after I still use the move in my jiu-jitsu.
I had dismissed the scissors sweep as something that only worked on lower belts and was too easily countered by more advanced students.
It was during a seminar that the instructor explained a few key details that shed new light on a once-favorite position.
I saw what I had not correctly understood about the scissors sweep and why it had stopped working!
Now I use the scissors all of the time and consider it one of my strongest guard techniques.
I forget how much I paid for the seminar?
2) “I can learn all of this from our academy instructor”.
I have no doubt that your black belt professor is extremely knowledgeable in many areas of bjj. They would not be wearing the respected black belt if they were not an expert in many areas of the art.
The truth is that jiu-jitsu is so enormous that no one knows all there is to know. It is just not possible to be a specialist in every position and its variations.
What if you love the triangle but your instructor has a heavy top game emphasis? What if your instructor has a deadly spider guard game with a thousand variations, but your body is much more suited to a different game?
A seminar can bring a fresh perspective to your training in a new area, positions that you learned in class but may not be the deepest area of expertise of your instructor.
Each bjj professor has their own way of explaining a technique or concept of jiu-jitsu. Many times a different way of explaining the same position will suddenly make clear a new understanding for the student.
I use the metaphor of adjusting the camera lens and suddenly bringing a poorly understood idea into sharp focus.
A bonus is that at most seminars, the instructor will ask if anyone has questions on any subject or position in jiu-jitsu. Ask about your favorite positions and be prepared to learn something that will take even your best positions to a higher level!
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Taipei, Taiwan