Attending a spectacular seminar with Yuri Simoes this past weekend reminded me how important seminars are to improving at Jiu Jitsu. Every time I take a seminar I walk away adding new positions, submissions, takedowns, or scrambles to my game. This weekend’s techniques fit perfectly into a neglected area of my Jiu Jitsu development.
I almost always have a series of moves I plug directly into my Jiu Jitsu after attending a seminar. Everything from this seminar will be going into my game. I also have an improved framework for understanding concepts.
Improving At Jiu Jitsu By Learning More
Imagine figuring out Jiu Jitsu is like solving a puzzle. When you are brand new, nothing seems to fit and you are just trying to FIND an edge piece. What does anything even mean? Will I ever figure any of this out?
Attending consistent weekly classes you get some puzzle pieces, and eventually you vaguely know what you are trying to build. Sometimes you are lucky and you even start to connect a few pieces together.
However, you still know the puzzle is vast. There are these giant empty places where you don’t even know what you don’t know. Seminars can give you chunks of puzzle pieces already connected.
How To Get The Most Out Of A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Seminar
1.) Come in ready to go and pick a good partner.
Make sure you get enough sleep the night before, drink plenty of water, and have some quality nutrition. Show up early, get dressed out and warmed up. Typically seminars get right into the meat of technique drilling.
Jiu Jitsu seminars typically last a few hours, and if your brain or body start shutting down after the first hour you will miss out on half of the goodness. Get your money’s worth.
2.) Pick a good partner and stay focused during the technique demonstrations
Don’t get distracted. Move around where you can see. Ask questions where things don’t make sense. There is a great chance you won’t be the only one.
What I take out of a seminar is LARGELY based on my partner choice. The right partner, gets the maximum amount of repetitions in. Good partners help you remember and focus on getting all the details right.
Between two people paying close attention there is a good chance that you can assemble a somewhat cohesive technique. The details that I forgot, hopefully my training partner remembered and vice versa.
Collaborate with your partner to make sure that between you, you understand all of the details. After working through the technique a few repetitions, don’t be shy about asking your partner. “So what was the right hand supposed to be doing here again?”
3.) Drill with purpose
A seminar isn’t the time to talk about the next season of Game of Thrones. Why spend money to attend a seminar if you don’t plan on drilling the moves to actually get better?
I find talking and not drilling to be disrespectful. A top notch black belt traveled all the way to an academy just to share the Jiu Jitsu knowledge they have fought hard to acquire over the past decade.
Be mindful. Don’t blindly knock out repetitions. This isn’t the time to mechanically run through the monitions to just chase quantity of reps. Quality matters immensely.
4.)Be engaged with the material
While you are the one the technique is being done to, be engaged. Think about if your partner was trying this same move on you during live rolling what you would do. There is a decent chance this exact scenario will happen the next time you roll!
This is also how you “reverse-engineer” what types of counters will shut down your attempt of successfully hitting the technique live. The deeper I find that I think through these options, the better I understand the choices the instructor at the seminar has made. I get a feel as to why they are showing this series.
Try to figure out with your partner, what these types of reactions would mean to the bigger picture. If you don’t understand how to stop one of these counters make sure to ask! I can’t tell you how often the presenter explains some small movement that entirely nullifies a counter we all thought was unstoppable.
If the seminar presenter is demonstrating the move and you get the chance to be the uke, TAKE IT! I don’t care if it is a choke and it’s going to hurt. Feel where they shift their weight, and pressure, and you’ll know more about the movement than anyone else.
5.) Ask a question
When training Jiu Jitsu, you should always have a question you are working to answer. After a seminar there is typically a question and answer portion. The early questions in this section typically center around the moves that were taught that day. Try to ask a question that helps you better understand the techniques.
Bonus Tip: Most seminars show a series of moves based around a similar starting point or position. If you haven’t figured it out on your own, make sure to ask “Why would you choose to do the first move you showed versus the second from that position?” You would be surprised how often it is something subtle like the posture of their opponent, and your percentages will instantly increase by mimicking these choices!
Near the end though, things start to open up a little and the topic broadens. This is a good chance to ask how to pass that annoying variation of guard your main training partner always plays.
6.) Thank them after the seminar
Training Jiu Jitsu full time is a dream come true for many people. The sacrifice of traveling, staying in hotels, eating out, meeting new people, leaving, and doing it all over again isn’t easy. It takes a toll being away from their families, friends, and their own Academy.
Thank whoever hosted the seminar. There is a lot of organization involved in getting a seminar off the ground and they typically end up being break-even type event for a school.
If you get the chance to roll with students from other schools or the instructor who presented the seminar afterwards, do it. The more styles you experience the better.
7.) Take Notes!!!!!!!
I can’t stress how important this is! Don’t fall for the trick of thinking that just because the moves were crystal clear in your head when you left the seminar, you will remember them forever. You won’t. With each passing day you will forget more and more of what was taught.
Trying to race installing these new techniques into muscle memory before you forget them forever is a fools game. Rarely can you accomplish the needed drilling and live repetitions to master every move before you start accidentally omitting key details. If I am focused on drilling seminar material I usually expect about a month at the fastest before I have incorporated it all into my game.
I take notes after every seminar I attend. Ideally right after the seminar when everything is fresh in my head I try to get it all down on paper. Now anytime I am working back through it, I just pull out my notebook and I have all the important components right in front of me.
8.) Get your live repetitions in
Knowing the movements of a seminar in your brain are useless. You have to build these techniques into your muscle memory and subconscious. Try them live, fail, and make corrections.
Sometimes the position demanded by the technique doesn’t come up as often, so I may ask my partner if I can start in this position to maximize my repetitions. I build up comfort by practicing. As I have difficulties, I reference my notes or training partners who went to the seminar.
There are only a few ways to drastically improve your Jiu Jitsu, and seminars are one of them. Come ready to do hard work with a good partner. Ask questions, take notes and drill afterwards.