In the previous post we touched upon some of the broad categories of martial art seminars you may consider attending during the summer. Regardless of which of those types you may end up partaking in, ultimately the value of the event will heavily hinge on one fundamental factor – the instructor(s) conducting it. Sometimes, of course, you will know much, if anything, about the person in charge of your training there; sometimes you will be more or less familiar with their background and qualification/biography, but without any real insight into how they teach; and there are also those you feel very familiar with, due to having “tasted” their approach through videos, books etc. As you may have concluded by now, we are talking about seeing someone for the first time, and the impressions there will decide whether a trainee will repeatedly attend seminars by the same instructor.
There are many qualities a good instructors should have, some more important than others, depending on the circumstances. Since we’re talking seminars here, not regular classes, I will focus on some of the factors I look for. Obviously, but should not be taken for granted, the instructor ought to be highly skilled, with thorough understanding of what makes his or her skill good, and how to develop it; next, there should be some sort of teaching curriculum in place, so that the material would be presented in a logical and understandable manner; then, the teacher should be able to effectively communicate with the trainees; and finally, there is the need for a keen eye to notice the possible difficulties among the students, especially if there are common ones.
Personally, what I expect from a good seminar is to get at least a glimpse of the teaching/training methodology, and hopefully even a solid insight, should the instructor be so inclined to discuss it. Namely, if I like the material enough there is the natural tendency to include some or all of it in my own training and teaching, in which case it is good to know what is the most efficient sequence and progression in doing it.
Now, depending of your interest and priorities in training, there may be some people out there whose programs are especially attractive and enticing. It is therefore normal that they would be heading your list of people to check out this summer, if possible…just make sure that your curiosity is not entirely based on Youtube demo highlights or similar sources, but rather that there is some specific reason behind it. My list of Top-something instructors to learn from has emerged spontaneously over the years, and might be, conditionally, split in two categories: armed and unarmed. So, just for fun, here are some of them, listed in alphabetical order:
Unarmed: Philippe Choisy Armed: Scott Babb
Rich Dimitri Craig Douglas
Antonio Faeda Nigel February
Chris Haueter Varg Freeborn
Rory Miller Tom Sotis
Evidently, some of them have already been mentioned on this blog, some not (yet). Now, this list may also seem a bit all over the place, but in my mind there is a common thread that makes them all pieces that could fit the same puzzle, but to which degree…it remains to be seen. Naturally, this list is fluctuating, the names are changing occasionally (after all, a dozen was a random number in the first place…I would need to add Hock Hochheim, Mikhail Ryazanov, Robert Paturel and many others), and it also does not mean I won’t attend any other seminars that pop up until these are “ticked” as done.
In conclusion, stay hungry for new knowledge, go learn new stuff from interesting people, but try to make informed choices and decisions in order to make the experience as fulfilling as possible.