Worthwhile to attend seminars as a beginner?

Emptyhand

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At the risk of sounding like an idiot....if you are a beginner/white belt with little to no martial arts experience yet, is attending a martial arts seminar worth it?

Basically, are the seminars geared towards more experienced, higher ranked martial artists or can a beginner/white belt gain information or experience that would be helpful?

I am speaking in generalities without regard to the type of MA.

Thank you in advance for any replies.
 

Kacey

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I understand why you're asking - but I can't really give you a straight answer. It depends too much on the person giving the seminar, how "new" you are, the style, what the seminar is about... the only possible answer is "maybe". For example, I am attending a seminar this weekend that has been split into 2 separate parts - one for color belts, and one for black belts, although the black belts can attend both sessions, with the understanding that the instruction is aimed at color belts. In this case, the yes, it would be good for you to attend this seminar. On the other hand, other seminars are aimed at a certain level of ability. You need to find out from others who know about the person giving the seminar and other details whether it is appropriate for you at this time.
 

Sukerkin

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I'll give a less considered answer than Kacey, tho' everything she says is correct.

I would say that in almost every case it is worth attending a seminar. If nothing else, you will get to see things you have not seen before and more importantly meet up with people in your art that you might otherwise never encounter.

It is true that it may turn out to be that you have, to spool an analogy, attended a seminar in particle physics when you were after basic math ... but you will still take something away from the day.

That said, most seminars are created with 'beginners' in mind so the chances are that there will always be something appropriate for even the rawest of 'recruits' :D.
 

arnisador

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I would say that in almost every case it is worth attending a seminar. If nothing else, you will get to see things you have not seen before and more importantly meet up with people in your art that you might otherwise never encounter..

I tend to agree. You'll gain less technique as a beginner but you'll still gain insights, meet people, and have better questions for your later training. It'll open your eyes and maybe get you moving in a new way. The focused study of one topic--if that's the type of seminar it is--can pay off too. The variety is also very helpful for keeping you interested in your studies...and who knows, maybe you'll find something you like better and want to investigate? If money and time aren't objects, I'd encourage you to attend some seminars in just about any art you can if they're open to beginners. I practice the Filipino martial arts, emphasizing stick and blade work, but within just the past year or so I've been to seminars in my art; other Filipino arts; Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; Jeet Kune Do; Tai Chi; and Kung Fu. This weekend I'll be at a camp which teaches my art (Modern Arnis) and also another Filipino art. Don't overdo it, but if you can, definitely try some seminars.
 

stickarts

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It can definately be worth your while if you are careful to pick a seminar where you know in advance what will be covered and that it is appropriate for you.
Be sure to work with and meet many people and have fun!
 

MJS

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At the risk of sounding like an idiot....if you are a beginner/white belt with little to no martial arts experience yet, is attending a martial arts seminar worth it?

Basically, are the seminars geared towards more experienced, higher ranked martial artists or can a beginner/white belt gain information or experience that would be helpful?

I am speaking in generalities without regard to the type of MA.

Thank you in advance for any replies.

By all means, if there is a seminar that you find interesting, go to it!! :) Some seminars have a few different sessions, one geared towards beginners and one geared towards more advanced. Then there are some that have all ranks rolled into one. Seminars, as Stickarts stated, are a great chance to meet and workout with different people. Don't worry about being able to remember everything that was shown. Even if you only remember a few things, you still had the chance to get out and workout with others and experience something new. :)

Mike
 

tshadowchaser

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You'll gain less technique as a beginner but you'll still gain insights, meet people, and have better questions for your later training. It'll open your eyes and maybe get you moving in a new way

All learning is good. You may not understand all you see or do and may not even be able to do some of it but you will learn. Later as you grow in the art(s) you will get more out of seminars and some of what you learn in the first ones you will see agin and understand better
 

jks9199

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At the risk of sounding like an idiot....if you are a beginner/white belt with little to no martial arts experience yet, is attending a martial arts seminar worth it?

Basically, are the seminars geared towards more experienced, higher ranked martial artists or can a beginner/white belt gain information or experience that would be helpful?

I am speaking in generalities without regard to the type of MA.

Thank you in advance for any replies.
Yes -- and no.

It all depends on the seminar in question. Sometimes, the seminar is meant to give advanced students what amounts to a rapid dump of a particular subject so that they can work on it and study the material in depth on their own. Those are generally geared for advanced students only; they may not break things down to the extent that a new student needs to understand it.

But other seminars are geared for anyone who shows up; they don't require you to know very much to benefit. For example, I just attended a clinic that, while most of the attendees were black belts, could have been handled by almost anyone.

And there are times when you may attend a seminar or class that's more advanced then you're really ready for because of who's teaching it. For example, I'll encourage almost any of my students to attend a seminar by Dr. Gyi; he's not teaching as many clinics anymore, and they may not have another chance to learn directly from him. In a similar vein, many Bujinkan students attend classes with Hatsumi when they're in Japan, even though the material he's covering may be beyond them today. Sometimes, the chance to train with someone is worth it, so long as you've got enough of the basics and attention span to hang in with the class. (Attention span of the youngest kids I teach is the only reason I don't encourage them to attend some seminars.)
 
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Emptyhand

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A lot of great replies and things to consider. Thank you all for posting.
 

Flying Crane

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I am personally not a big fan of seminars ever. If you are a total beginner and you are looking for an art that fits you, then they might be useful to give you a brief sampling.

There are a couple of problems with seminars, in my opinion.

First, if you are being taught something that is part of your system, that you already study with a good instructor, then why would you need to learn it in a seminar? You should be able to get it from your instructor, who is then in a better position to help you continue developing the skills in the long run.

Second, if you are learning something in a seminar that is not part of the system you already train, then once the seminar is over, you have nobody to work with who can correct your technique as you continue to practice. A seminar is short, maybe lasting anywhere from a couple hours to a weekend to a week. Unless you are very gifted and already experienced in a particular art, what you learn in this short period of time will probably be poorly learned. Then the seminar is over, the teacher is gone, and you are completely on your own to practice it, and since you didn't have enough time to really learn it well, you probably continue to practice it poorly. If this material is also new for your regular teacher, then he cannot really help you with it either because he is struggling as much as you.

Example: lets say you are a karate guy. But your teacher wants to expand the background of your group. So he brings in a teacher in tai chi. But nobody in your group, including your teacher, has any experience in tai chi. So this tai chi teacher comes in for a weekend, and teaches a short version of a form. That's all you would have time for, without prior background. And in that amount of time, you just barely got thru it. You are struggling just to remember the form, and your rendition is lousy because tai chi is a supple and subtle art and it takes a long time of practice under a skilled eye to get it right. But now the teacher is gone, your group stumbles thru the form for a while, and probably eventually drop it along the wayside since deep in your hearts you all know you are doing it wrong and you have no way to correct it. If you want to add tai chi to your background, you need to study under a good teacher, and commit to learning the art as completely as possible, and give it as much time and effort as it takes. A weekend seminar does not do it at all.

Sometimes seminars can be interesting because you get to see a different perspective on your own art. If the guest instructor is teaching an aspect of the art you already study, you might find his approach to be refreshing, and it helps stimulate your drive to train. That can be useful. But after a few of these, sometimes you find that you are less impressed by many of the people giving seminars...

So they CAN be useful under the right circumstances, but I personally am not a big fan of them for the above reasons.
 

jks9199

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Before I go too far -- I don't agree with the "weekend certification" type of seminars where someone spends 8 to 12 hours (if they're lucky) working on something and goes back teaching it as a so-called master. Sure, there are some things you can be taught in a weekend or week-long course. And, of course, you can be tested in something in a short period, and awarded certification.

That said,
First, if you are being taught something that is part of your system, that you already study with a good instructor, then why would you need to learn it in a seminar? You should be able to get it from your instructor, who is then in a better position to help you continue developing the skills in the long run.

Some systems are broad enough that it's unlikely any one person really has the ability to teach everything. For example, I train in Bando. My teacher has very broad experience and very great mastery -- and he can correct many things. But that doesn't mean that if I want to learn the Eagle form or the Boar form -- he's got the forms, though he may have the keys to the systems. He'll send me to someone who has chosen to specialize in that, and then add his insight and corrections, instead.

And, sometimes, you go to someone who's got the most current or best accepted version of something that there are several versions to choose from.

Second, if you are learning something in a seminar that is not part of the system you already train, then once the seminar is over, you have nobody to work with who can correct your technique as you continue to practice. A seminar is short, maybe lasting anywhere from a couple hours to a weekend to a week. Unless you are very gifted and already experienced in a particular art, what you learn in this short period of time will probably be poorly learned. Then the seminar is over, the teacher is gone, and you are completely on your own to practice it, and since you didn't have enough time to really learn it well, you probably continue to practice it poorly. If this material is also new for your regular teacher, then he cannot really help you with it either because he is struggling as much as you.

A seminar can be a good exposure; as I said, you can't learn more than the broadest outlines in a fast format like that. It can be like going to a tasting session at a restaurant, or taking an intro class in college.

There's another thing about some clinics or seminars. They're great opportunities to make friends and connections with other martial artists, either in your system or in others. I went to a clinic last Saturday. While many of the participants had some ties to Bando, there were only about 6 out of the 30 or so participants who were Bando students. I know that there were many Isshin Ryu students, and a few Kempo students, and I think maybe some others in the group. It was fun to see different takes on the same questions. That fellowship and cameraderie is hard to beat.
 

Flying Crane

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Some systems are broad enough that it's unlikely any one person really has the ability to teach everything. For example, I train in Bando. My teacher has very broad experience and very great mastery -- and he can correct many things. But that doesn't mean that if I want to learn the Eagle form or the Boar form -- he's got the forms, though he may have the keys to the systems. He'll send me to someone who has chosen to specialize in that, and then add his insight and corrections, instead.

And, sometimes, you go to someone who's got the most current or best accepted version of something that there are several versions to choose from.

are you then in a position to follow-up with this other instructor for further guidance with what you have learned from him? If so, then you have really sort of become his student in a way. If not, then how do you know you are training it correctly once you don't meet with him again? If it is something your instructor is not well-versed with, he may not be able to help you very much. Until you train the material long enough to really understand it, you need someone to guide you to that point. If feedback from the instructor ends with the seminar, you are on shaky ground.

A seminar can be a good exposure; as I said, you can't learn more than the broadest outlines in a fast format like that. It can be like going to a tasting session at a restaurant, or taking an intro class in college.

true, but are you really learning anything? or as a sampler session, do you go home when it is over thinking "that was great, but I don't REMEMBER anything we did!"? If you are just wanting to explore and get an impression of different arts with the idea that you might train more seriously later, then this can work, but if you really want to learn something, I think it doesn't lend itself well.

There's another thing about some clinics or seminars. They're great opportunities to make friends and connections with other martial artists, either in your system or in others. I went to a clinic last Saturday. While many of the participants had some ties to Bando, there were only about 6 out of the 30 or so participants who were Bando students. I know that there were many Isshin Ryu students, and a few Kempo students, and I think maybe some others in the group. It was fun to see different takes on the same questions. That fellowship and cameraderie is hard to beat.

Yes, this is very true.
 

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I have gone to two seminars as a complete rookie in the arts. One was in Goju-Ryu with Morio Higoanna. To this day that man is my image of what a "grandmaster" should be. What did I retain from that day? Two wrist locks and some grass stains on my gi from being driven into the ground by Higoanna Sensei.

The other was a seminar with Rigan Machado when I had all of two days (2 hours) of BJJ training. Needless to say I got zero technical knowledge out of it, and I just watched what was going on. What I did get out of it was watching a master of his art as he effortlessly rolled with the entire seminar crew and tapped everyone, more specifically tapped everyone with the technique that the opponent selected before they started rolling. Unreal, and again formed an image of a completely different master at work.

I don't think all the benefits of a seminar like that are technical, and if you ever get the chance to study under a true master of an art, whatever master, whatever art, you should take it, the opportunity won't come around that often.

Lamont
 

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Greetings Emptyhand!

Have you ever seen a martial art DVD in your style? Did you understand the principles behind those moves? Go to your local library (or YouTube) and checkout some martal art DVDs. Watch them with friends, but don't attempt to do anything that would cause injury without proper supervision. You don't want a Darwin award.

Personally going to seminars are fun. You meet new people who have similar interest as you. You may learn a new concept and some techniques. If the price of the seminar is low you might want to try it out. If the price is somewhat high, then you would benefit more by going to the local library and study your art. Once you feel comfortable and have a good base seminars are pretty fun. People attend seminars for different reasons. Either way seminars will be a learning lessons...things to watch for....things to avoid.

Cheers Mate.

PS. Blindside I like your quote.....going to have to steal it.....monkey snatches peach...rrmmm....quote...lol
 
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