Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fit for seminar frenzy, part 1

As usually is the case with approaching summer, many practitioners from martial art circles are planning for some of the seminars they are going to attend during the season. Are you properly prepared for the events you are aiming at? And by being properly prepared I don not mean physical fitness (not for the purposes of this post, anyway), but rather in terms of making sure you get the most benefit from the experience.

In broadest strokes, there are two wide categories of seminars you may want to attend, depending on what you seek to find there: 1. trying a new/different art or system for the first time; or 2. trying a new instructor or new material in the system you are already training in. Whichever of these two cases may be at hand, you will be exposed to one of the two possible approaches to what is being presented, and these could have great impact on whether you will be happy about the experience afterward.

Learning new techniques and tactics is one of the two avenues. As it seems to me, this is also the prevailing approach, for several reasons. For example, it is suitable for catering to all levels of practitioners, both beginners and advanced. To the former it gives a view of bigger picture, thus possibly helping them better understand the journey they have undertaken; to the latter it can offer some "refreshment" and boost some new enthusiasm into their training. The techniques/tactics approach also suits the people from other arts well, as it can provide (depending on the instructor) relevant insight into the nature and dynamics of the system displayed at the seminar.

Learning about the different methodology of training is the other way. Seminars of this sort are probably more appropriate for experienced trainees, as they have the necessary background to understand and appreciate the information. Also, this approach is better suited for the practitioners from the same or related/similar systems, who would like to see how other instructors treat same subjects. You can profit from them even if you are from an unrelated system, nevertheless, if you are able to analyze the material in terms of principles and concepts, not necessarily taking it at the face value.

Both approaches are good and valuable if you know how to appreciate them. I remember, back in my taekwondo days, as a red/brown belt, attending the seminar conducted by a top-caliber competitor, multiple European champion, world and Olympic medalist, and failing to fully recognize the worth of what was shown. Namely, prior to the event I had expected to learn the new techniques, combos, tactics...while he actually spent the weekend detailing his method of training for the best results. It only dawned on me a couple years later, as I started coaching competitors myself. Therefore, it would be ideal if you knew upfront what you are looking for, as it would help you make the right choice of the seminars you wish to join.

In either case, you would be well advised to take ample notes both during and after the event. What I like to do is write a short title and description for every activity taught, and then fill in with additional, more detailed description at the end of the day (ideally within an hour after the end of the session). My experience is that this greatly help the retention of the information. By all means, ask questions, but make sure they are relevant to the teachings of the day, in order for everyone involved to gain some benefits from the answers. Please, refrain form asking for instructor's opinions of other styles and/or instructors, as well as from offering your own unsolicited opinions and views, particularly if they are argumentative in nature. These are better left for later, if there is the opportunity to hang out with the instructor in an informal environment.

How about filming the seminar? I am not against it, but it seems that the written notes yield better results. This may be due to the inclination to rely on the footage as the means of memorization and recall, consequently paying less attention to the instruction at the very moment it is being offered. Besides, having to come up with more details and clarifications following the training forces you to go through the exercises and rills at least once more in your mind, while it is still fresh, hence further reinforcing the process of memorization. 

No comments: