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Seven Martial Arts Seminar Survival Tips
By Pete Kautz, 2005

Martial arts training seminars are always a great time, but while fun these events can really wipe you out if you’re not prepared for them.  You need a strong mind and body to get you through a long seminar, especially if you are presenting material there (or teaching the whole thing!)

Here are seven seminar survival tips that I have found helpful over the years.  They have worked for me in both attending and presenting seminars.  In no specific order...

1) Arrive in shape and well rested.  I have seen many people who after the first hard day of training were basically wiped-out for the next two days of the seminar!  Make no mistake - the long hours of training and socializing will kick your butt a lot more than what you're used to in the average "class night" back home.  Don’t make the mistake of trying to cram extra training into the week before the seminar, however, or you risk hurting yourself and showing up even more run down than you were!

2) Never skip breakfast and eat decent balanced meals when you can, rather than living on fast food and snacks.  Going to breakfast will help you more than the extra half-hour of sleep no matter how late you were up the night before.  Avoid overly-sugary things (like glazed doughnuts) in the morning because of the resulting crash later, but feel free to pile on the pancakes, eggs, bacon, and so on.  You’ll be working so hard throughout the day that you’ll burn the calories.  People sometimes laugh when I eat things like chicken fried steak for breakfast at seminars but a few hours later I usually see their "coffee and doughnut" asses dragging while I still am going.  Bring along a few Cliff bars or some such to eat between meals...at some point every seminar I'm sure glad I did!

3) Drink lots of water, way more than you think you need.  By the time you feel thirsty you are probably already on your way to dehydration.  Remember that soda, coffee, and beer are NOT water…only water is water.  Dehydration leads to a state of mental confusion that makes learning anything new very difficult.  If you have a headache, feel dizzy, or are having trouble paying attention the cure may well be just a sip of water away.

4) Do cold water dousing or take cold showers.  One cold blast in the morning and one after training only takes a few minutes and gives you a LOT more energy throughout the day.  Stay in the cold shower for about 3 minutes for an optimal effect.  Another shower related tip is to consider taking your hot shower before bed rather than in the morning and competing with everyone else for the few showers and available hot water when at camp sights with limited facilities.

5) Know what you want out of a seminar before you go, and be familiar with the material if possible.  This way you will be much better prepared to absorb what is presented.  One very simple trick that woks like magic is to write out a list of questions before-hand, so that when a presenter ask “Any questions?” you will be prepared and not later think, “Oh, I should have asked them about such-and-such!”

6) Do the drills the way the presenter ask you too, no matter whether you think it is right or not.  Do not judge what you are learning when you are learning it.  Trust that there is a reason you are learning a certain thing in a certain way.  You must first research your own experience (i.e. “Do the damn drills”) BEFORE you can absorb what is useful or reject what is useless.

7) Take time each day to be by yourself (or in a small "study group") and review what you learned at the seminar.  Write notes or use whatever strategies are best for your learning style to record what you learned so you can ask questions for clarification the next day and so you are sure you have correct material to take home and practice afterwards.  It has been proven that within two weeks you will forget most of what you learned at a seminar unless you work to reinforce the material so you want clear notes to practice from.

So, there you go!  Pretty easy for the most part, eh?

Try even a few of these tricks next time you attend a seminar and see if you don't get more learning and enjoyment out of it!

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