Best way to make a seminar useful?

Discussion in 'General Self Defense' started by skribs, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

    Nov 14, 2013
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    Lakewood, WA
    I've seen it brought up a few times on this forum, and I've had discussions on this as well. In fact, my Master has discussed doing hapkido seminars for police stations, and the cops all think at the end of the seminar that they know hapkido. Considering it took me probably a year's worth of classes to advance from white to yellow belt, and considering how obsessively I practice and how smart I am at rote memorization, I can't imagine anyone can "learn hapkido" in a single seminar.

    Now, I'm specifically talking about seminars for non-martial artists. I think that a martial artist can go to a seminar or convention and get advice to hone their technique, but it will be applied in practice in their regular training. I'm more speaking about doing an hour class or two hour class or even a 1- or 2-day "boot camp" for people that have never done martial arts and have no commitment to continue training after the class is over.

    However, I also believe there is a market for seminars like this, and I believe they can be a tool that is useful. I think a seminar can do a few things:
    • Be a fun group-building exercise for an organization or a special treat for a school or youth event
      (I have done this one before, as my demonstration team did a combination demonstration and class for a special needs youth camp, in which they had a lot of fun)
    • Be an entry point into martial arts or give people resources and information they can use, or more specifically be a marketing tool for your school
    • Teach people some basic techniques that can be used to defend themselves
    However, if your seminar is designed like the first class at your school, it's probably not going to work. If your seminar involves a lot of information about the martial arts culture and rules, and not so much on actually defending yourself, I don't think it's going to work. And if your seminar covers techniques that are way over the head of the unitiated, or that require months and years of training to have the proper touch to execute, then a 1-hour seminar is not the place to do it.

    So what is it that would make a seminar good, that it would be worth the time of both the instructor and the participants?

    Here's a few things I think:

    1. Serve as a resource instead of the source. Give people basic information on things like laws, tactics, de-escalation, awareness and avoidance, and basic techniques. Give people resources and tell them where to find more detailed information and instruction.
    2. Pick the most likely situations, and if possible pick motions that will work similar in each situation
    3. Don't get hung up on unnecessary details, i.e. "that's technically not a knife-hand strike, it's called a chop". If they come to class you can correct them then, but for the purpose of the seminar that doesn't matter. Similarly, if your school typically teaches the Japanese or Korean names for the techniques, translate them for your audience. Say "kick" instead of "chaki" for example.
    4. Pick techniques that are easy and safe for a beginner to do. Pick palm strikes over punches and spear hands, don't practice kicks as they're more likely to hurt their own foot than their attacker if they only have a single class. Don't teach hapkido techniques that only work if you mastered finding pressure points, which isn't something they'll do in a day.
    My Dad wants to do hapkido seminars after he gets his black belt. I wouldn't mind doing those as well. I've also had my boss at my day job say it would be fun to do some weapon defense training for the office (in which case I'd probably get 5-10 minutes for the lesson, but I would get credit for doing a safety brief), and I might end up doing more class+demonstration combination events like the one I did at the special needs camp.

    So what can we do to make a seminar effective, even if they're not the most effective way of teaching?
  2. Anarax

    Anarax 2nd Black Belt

    Aug 16, 2017
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    New Mexico
    I think this will be very difficult. You can "teach" many technique in an hour, but being proficient is a different story. You won't be able to train reflexes, muscle memory, throws, sweeps(lack of breakfall training), etc. There's just so little to teach to those that will only put forth one hour of their life towards training that is meant to be life long endeavors.
    That's awesome you've done that for special needs kids, they are too often overlooked and forgotten. You are doing a great service by bringing some fun into their lives.
    I think the marketing tool for your school is a great idea to gain new students, demonstrations are also another approach.
  3. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
    Jun 27, 2011
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    A lot depends on your audience, what it is you're offering in your seminar, and how much time you have. If you're teaching a seminar on your particular art, that's one thing, if your teaching a seminar on the angles of kick boxing it's another, if it's a seminar on crime prevention and protecting your home, that's a different subject entirely, as is defense against weapons, centring both your fighting posture and your base, recognizing and reacting to threats, dealing with bullies, multiple attackers, reading body language, threats and emergencies, reading body language, footwork, fitness in the Arts, a historical look at your Style, yada yada, yada.

    If you have two hours to teach, or three, eight hour days - it's two entirely different things

    If your audience are beginners, experienced fighters, athletes, office workers or security personal, it's all going to be a little different. So what, just go.

    Now.....if you're taking a seminar, which I highly recommend, open your God Damn mind and inhale. And take notes. Lots of notes. How? I don't know, but you'll figure it out.

    Sometimes you have to take a half dozen seminars to find one that really strikes a chord. Might change your life. Not likely, but there's a chance.

    I mean, what do you have to lose? A few bucks and a Saturday afternoon?

    Go look, go play. Beats a sharp stick in the eye any old day.
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