Making the Most of a Seminar

Looking back at the seminars you’ve taken, did you make the most of them? Is it possible to maximize Jiu Jitsu learning? Ultimately, getting to learn from talented athletes should be more than just a great photo op.

I don’t get to vacation often, so my weekend road trip to Bend, OR for the War Tribe Jiu Jitsu Summit was quite a treat. With six seminars in less than 48 hours, it tested my learning capacity, not to mention set a personal record for loads of laundry done on vacation.

I really wanted to get the most out of this experience and tried to treat each night like a school night. I went to sleep before 10pm, abstained from drinking and kept up my low carb/low sugar diet. Although it may not sound like fun to some, it was wonderful!

Even though a study in 2009, debunked the myth of learning styles, most people have preferred methods of learning. I prefer to:

  1. Watch the technique
  2. Perform it myself and say the movements outload as I do them
  3. Write down the moves
  4. Review my notes and
  5. Drill from my notes
  6. Try to Explain the technique to someone else (the real test)

I realize that I am a moderately slow learner. This is something that I have been trying to combat by keeping a Jiu Jitsu journal. There are several ones for sale online, but I just use a blank notebook. I prefer to write things down after training. I have tried writing notes while moves are being explained, but I end up missing crucial points. On the down side, this means I am vulnerable to memory decay.

Mainly, I capture the basics: date, instructor, technique name and details. If the move links to another move that I like, I’ll mention that too. I try to be specific, specifying right vs. left body part, for myself and my training partner. Ideally, it is best to drill something until you can’t get it wrong, but time does not allow for this in a seminar.

For the Summit, it would have been nice to take videos. I didn’t do this because some instructors don’t want to be videotaped and watching something live through a tiny screen makes me feel detached. One of the things I love most about Jiu Jitsu is how present it makes me feel.

After each seminar, my boyfriend and I drove to our Airbnb in Redmond to shower, eat and do laundry. This made for a rushed experience and my notes suffered from it. Going from sea level to 3,000 ft. elevation (combined with that desert heat) may have slowed me down mentally and physically.

As I was driving back I thought of the what I would like to do next time:

  • Stay closer to the venue (or shower there).
  • Not leave the mats without taking down the names of the techniques and the fine points.
  • Ask permission to record a video of the technique being taught or videotape myself drilling it.
  • If I go with a group, have everyone focus on remembering different techniques for review later.
  • Take a memory enhancer like Lion’s Mane mushroom or start taking Gingko Biloba in advance.

What works for some wont work for all. It is important that you find what works best for you. We are a community of learners, so if anyone has good tips for maximizing our Jiu Jitsu learning please share them with us!

About the author:


Irene Matsuoka

Staff Writer

Irene Matsuoka is a purple belt and has been coaching kid’s class for about 3 years. She is working on a master’s in public administration and a blog on personal safety: Preparation, Practice & Positivity

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