5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Attending A BJJ Seminar

Garry Tonon shares his knowledge at a seminar with the students of Evolve MMA.

Jiu-jitsu seminars can be extremely helpful, but they can also be super expensive. Most of us have to pick and choose the seminars we attend, and that means we may miss out on lots of great jiu-jitsu techniques. In order to get the most value for your money, it helps to know what you’re looking for in a BJJ seminar.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before spending a large chunk of change on your next jiu-jitsu seminar:

1. Am I going for the knowledge or the photo op?
One of the perks of attending seminars by famous athletes is that they usually allow you to take photos with them once the lesson is over. This is great for Instagram, but if it’s the only reason you’re going to a seminar, you may want to spend your money elsewhere. While, yes, everyone can learn from everyone in jiu-jitsu, you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you gravitate towards athletes who roll more like you do and have a game you believe you could benefit from. But hey, if paying a ton of money for a Gordon Ryan seminar even though you only train gi is worth it to you, no one’s going to stop you.

2. What are other people saying about this person’s seminars?
Ask around on Facebook or Reddit for other people’s opinions on the seminars they’ve attended from a particular athlete. There are lots of competitors out there who are great at competing, but lacking in the instruction department. There are also a bunch of great teachers out there who avoid the competition scene. Asking for “reviews” of instructors is a great way to make sure your hard-earned cash is going to someone who will help you improve rather than spending half the time boasting about their personal accomplishments.

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3. Will they be teaching something that will benefit me?
If you’re a white belt who only competes in IBJJF events, a leg lock seminar probably won’t be your best investment (yet). Before you sign up for a seminar, analyze your own game and ask if improving a certain area will be worth the $100+ that you’ll be handing over to your seminar instructor. If you’re not sure, ask your coach and teammates what they think. Improving on any of your skills is great, but you won’t retain as much of the given information if you’re a complete newcomer to it or will rarely be practicing it.

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4. Am I only attending out of obligation?
Many academies host seminars with the expectation that their students will attend. The reality, though, is that no one should have to attend a seminar they don’t want to go to. Maybe money is tight, or maybe you’re just not that interested in going to this seminar in the first place. It’s understandable that your coach will push you and all of your teammates to attend a seminar hosted at the gym, but you should never feel like you must attend a seminar just because it’s taking place at your gym.

5. Will I be able to retain and practice what I’ve learned?
The person giving the seminar should allow students to record the information given in some way. Many instructors don’t allow themselves to be videoed practicing the techniques, but will allow students to film each other drilling the moves. Others recommend bringing a pencil and notepad to write down the steps. There’s a lot of information that your brain will have to download in a seminar, and if the instructor prohibits all means of recording what you’ve learned, there’s no way you’ll be able to retain more than a few snippets of what you saw that day.

Ultimately, if you really, really want to attend a seminar, you can bypass all these tips and go for it. But if this is an infrequent investment you’re making to better your jiu-jitsu, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you ask yourself these questions to make the most out of your time and money.

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