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What makes a good martial arts seminar experience?

Savate students of all sizes, ages and ranks work together on a drill during a recent seminar in Chicago.
Savate students of all sizes, ages and ranks work together on a drill during a recent seminar in Chicago.
Mike Ilic

Seminars are a great way to grow in your art, learn about a new one or connect with other enthusiasts. However, seminars can be costly, and some experiences are often better than others. How do you ensure that you get the most out of your seminar experience?

1. Ask around about the instructor. If the seminar is being presented by an instructor you aren't familiar with, see if you can find out a little about his or her style of teaching so you can find out what you'll be in for. Some folks like to be constantly challenged physically, some prefer slowly learning intricate combinations, some are motivated by the possibility of achieving a new rank and still others prefer to learn a 'real life' application.

2. Have a good training partner. Who you go through the seminar with can make all the difference. See if a fellow practitioner can attend the seminar with you, or find out who else is going. Having a partner that makes you comfortable and can work at your level (or challenge you in a good way) could be the key to having a great time at any seminar. It's possible you'll have to switch partners at certain points, but look at this as an opportunity to meet someone else while you're there.

3. Put some effort in. Often people want to leave a seminar feeling that they're learned a lot and/or that they've had a great workout. The saying, 'what you put into it is what you get out of it' can apply here. If you're looking to learn new things, take notes if possible so that you can review them later. If you aren't able or allowed to take notes during the seminar, try jotting some down at the lunch break. If you are looking for a physical work out, commit fully to all of the drills and make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before and a good breakfast in the morning so that you arrive energized.

4. Have a positive outlook. You're attitude can not only influence you, but also those you're working with and probably even your instructors. If you come in with an enthusiasm for what you're about to learn, you'll pass it on to others. A group of enthusiastic students make each other happy, make the instructors happy and will create a fun atmosphere to learn and train in.