One of the nice things about the number of martial arts schools in the US is that there is a plethora of seminars that people can attend. What most people do not realize is what is really involved in putting together and running a successful seminar. Most people take for granted how little is charged for people to put some serious training time in with some excellent instructors. Most seminars fees work out from between $5 to $30 per hour for some remarkable teachers. Managing the logistics of a seminar, not losing money, and maybe even turning a profit from a seminar takes a lot of work. It is not a solo effort that pulls a seminar off, but a dojo effort. I do not think that I could manage to hold successful seminars without the substantial help and support from my students and my family.
Ushiro Kenji Sensei is coming from Japan this week with a bunch of his senior students from Japan for his second seminar of this year on 10/24 & 10/25. Attendees are coming from Japan, throughout the Unites States and Canada. The logistics for this are substantial. That means managing airport arrivals and departures; Managing transportation requirements, hotel reservations, restaurant reservations, meals being served at my home……. That is not even including handling the logistics of the seminar itself. After everyone returns to their homes, I can breathe a breath of relief. Then back to my regular 12 hour-2 job days without a break. I do not even think twice about arranging for a number of seminars to be held at my school each year. I am looking forward to when our economy improves so I can hold even more seminars. The benefits that these seminars provide to my students and myself more than make up for the occasional financial hit, logistical headaches,….. that a seminar can become. That being said, I would like to offer the following advice to my students and to people who attend seminars.
My students are acting as ambassadors to our school. They work hard at special dojo cleanings before a seminar, hosting some attendees (to provide some financial help), helping to open and close the dojo, keeping the facility open during the lunch hour….. I am so thankful that my students work so hard to support these seminars. During the seminars, I encourage all of you to be as open as possible to experience the differences that the attendees bring to their training. Be aware and alert to what is going on around you. Taking for granted how people train can be potentially dangerous. My students know full well that I made that mistake at the 50th year in Aikido seminar. I was fortunate to be able to have minimized the damage done to me from somebody’s neanderthal-like execution of a technique. The important thing to take from this is that you must protect yourself, without the desire to seek retribution. You must work hard to train honestly with as many different partners as possible to try and take some important things away from the seminar that you can work on in your own training. The wonderful opportunity to make new friends from other schools, arts and styles only serve to enhance the benefits from your martial arts training. Your contact and interactions with the attendees from other schools, styles and countries makes the seminar experience at our dojo something that people actually look forward to! Keep up the excellent work!
Attendees of seminars can do a lot to help make the seminar experience a successful one for everyone. First and foremost, registration and payment in advance. This one area can be a tremendous help in allowing the sponsoring dojo to plan based upon real financial and space considerations, instead of projected ones. Train with as many different people as possible. I am amazed at how often several people will come together and only train together. The synergy of training with different people usually adds an incalculable and valuable add-on to your training experience. Be open-minded and cooperative, even when you do not necessarily agree with the teaching and/or enjoy the particular training partner you are working with. Most importantly, train safely! Nobody goes to a seminar to come home with an injury. Mindful, sincere and measured training allow everybody to come home in the same condition (or better!) than how they came to the seminar. Be mindful of your training environment. A lot of time and effort goes into creating and maintaining a safe and beautiful training environment. Simple things, like not leaving messes behind, are greatly appreciated by all.
A seminar takes a tremendous amount of work, financial risk, and sweat to create an awesome training experience for people. We all need to do all that we can to support and be helpful to those who put these events together. Simple, mindful care from the planners and attendees go a long way to help foster the continued growth in our martial arts training. More importantly, these efforts create the opportunities and venues for the next generations of seminar teachers.
Marc Abrams Sensei
(Original blog post may be found here