For grapplers from smaller jiu-jitsu scenes, seminars by elite athletes can be valuable resources that can help any aspiring practitioner grow leaps and bounds. But what makes a seminar worth investing so much time and money?
The seminar revolves around a position or submission. The cost of a seminar isn’t cheap, and depending on how far you’re traveling, that price can easily exceed $200-$300. So if you’re going to spend that kind of money, you should have an idea of what’s going to be covered. If you’re going to a renowned leglocker’s seminar, for example, you’ll probably be covering leg entrances and submissions. If you’re unsure, it never hurts to contact the host gym to find out, then ask yourself if it is something you want to add to your arsenal or not.
The cost of the seminar is reasonably priced or for an admirable cause. This rule is obviously subjective and ultimately depends on who is teaching the seminar in question and what the cause, if any, it is supporting. If it were a John Danaher seminar supporting kids with cancer, I’d happily sell a kidney and pay $300 to attend. That being said, one of the best seminars I ever attended was taught by a local brown belt for $40 going over all sorts of arm-triangle chokes. This rule is completely up to you and how it fits into your jiu-jitsu journey.
The focus of the seminar revolves around technique. This seems like an obvious one, but there’s nothing worse than investing time and money into a seminar and the teacher spends more time talking about their accomplishments as a fighter than they do on technique. Don’t get me wrong, hearing some stories mixed in with technique is awesome and really goes a long way towards adding to the overall experience, but it becomes bothersome when every single technique comes with a story about how awesome the instructor is. We already know they’re awesome — that’s why we chose to come to learn from them.
The instructor rolls with students afterward. There are some exceptions to this rule, because obviously some of the legends in the sport need to preserve their health. That being said, there’s no other experience that compares to rolling with an elite-level jiu-jitsu practitioner. Don’t be that person that rolls with the instructor trying to “win” — just enjoy the fact that your favorite superstar grappler just demolished you with a knee-on-belly. That’s the experience you can look back on fondly — not that time you accidentally kicked an ADCC champ in the stomach because he was getting mount and you had to “beat” him.
Seminars can be a great way to build on your technique, and if I won the lottery tomorrow, that’s probably how I would spend the rest of my life. It’s important to remember to get the most of the seminars you do attend, because even at a “bad” seminar, chances are you’ll come away with at least one thing you can take back to your home academy. At the end of the day, jiu-jitsu is about learning and sharing.