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    Seminarin'

    Heya Bullies. . .

    My area's local Sea Cadet unit has been selected to host the annual Flagship event/competition for their Region (which is pretty cool because they've always been kinda small, so it's their first time hosting it) and I somehow wound up invited to give a few seminar style classes to the attending cadets.

    Anyway, having been to very few (maybe two?) MA seminars myself and having limited personal experience to draw from formally instructing large groups, I would like to ask those more familiar with these sorts of things to grant me the boon of their knowledge.

    Tips, warnings, suggestions, best practices, amusing anecdotes and/or whatever else you feel like throwing my way regarding how to plan and run a decent seminar are all appreciated.

    Edit:
    I suppose I should say something about my ideas so far for what to do with the cadets. . .

    I want to talk a little about situational awareness and avoiding potentially dangerous situations, but mostly devote the time to conceptual stuff like aliveness in training, aggression if they actually have to fight, and a few fundamental technical skills (stance, movement, power generation in striking and targets on a human body.)
    Last edited by Eudemic; 9/15/2010 12:03pm, .

    #2
    I’ve been to two krav maga seminars and some kung fu ones with Doc Fai Wong (the only one I really liked was about applying CLF fighting concepts; he mostly teaches forms). Also went to some mini-seminars at some Throwdowns, with Omega teaching leg locks and pro wrestling holds that work (that one was a lot of fun). Some thoughts on how to organize a successful one:
    I like the format where everyone circles around to listen and see the finer details of whatever you’re showing. Make sure you’re loud enough and don’t overcomplicate things. Then, have everyone spread out and work on it with partners. Make sure you give them enough time to get the idea and practice it many times. While they’re doing this, walk around to the groups and help where you can. It’s easy to stop everyone to note something that’s not quite right, but don’t take so much time stopping and correcting or adding details that everyone spends the majority of the time just listening- there should be mostly hands on practice. This is easier if you have a clear goal for the seminar. For more advanced people, you could go over specific technical things, but if it’s a bunch of beginners, keep things simple and drill things that are easily understood. Questions from students are a good thing, but if a teacher is always asking a sizeable seminar group “any questions?” it can really eat away at training time, so you want to be open but also try to stay on track. The way I’d do this when I taught (regular kung fu classes, not seminars) was to have a mental layout of how a class should go, how much time for each thing, what specifically I was trying to impart etc. What are you going to teach?

    Oh, as for anecdotes:
    I went to a seminar with Eyal Yanilov a few years ago. I saw a flyer at my college and it was cheap, especially to work with such a prominent figure. We did a lot of drills with training knives and everyone learned that it’s easy to get stabbed and cut. There was one where we would kneel a few feet from our partner, who was also kneeling, with a training knife in between you. At Eyal’s signal, you’d both go for the knife and try to stab the other guy. My partner and I both dove forward and our heads collided. We both laughed and rubbed our noggins, then he grabbed the trainer and stabbed me. Eyal laughed and complimented my partner’s sneakiness.

    Bully DngrRuss1 (or however he spells it) did a crash course in knife fighting when he hosted a throwdown at his school up north. We did a drill where everyone stood in a circle, and two people in the middle had knives. When one of them was hit, they were out and the next person in line was in. Russ is a real big guy and I thought he might be a bit slow for such a fast paced drill, but he could stay in the middle longer than anyone, and it was great to watch. Shameless plug- if you’re in the Ventura area and you’re interested in weaponry, you should check out Way of the Orient martial arts.

    Omega taught a bunch of leglocks, which I thought were really cool, but were kinda beyond me. They mostly started with you on the ground and your opponent standing over you and ended in a painful hold. They made me wish I trained at a sambo gym (or his kung fu school).

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      #3
      I can help provide some guidance but before I can do so, it is important to know the format you are going to teach in. Specifically, how many hours and over how many days will you see the cadets for your classes. Also, does each group see you once, or do you teach the same group multiple times? Also, what are your general teaching goals (ie what are you trying to teach and to what target audience)?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by SifuJason View Post
        I can help provide some guidance but before I can do so, it is important to know the format you are going to teach in. Specifically, how many hours and over how many days will you see the cadets for your classes. Also, does each group see you once, or do you teach the same group multiple times?
        I still have a lot of details to work out with the staff organizing the greater event, but ideally I will be working with each individual unit once a day, each day of Flagship (as though I were running one of the competitive events.) Not sure exactly how long that will give me.

        Also, what are your general teaching goals (ie what are you trying to teach and to what target audience)?
        I wanted to give them a fighting stance to work out of, teach them some fundamental footwork and movement (step-slide, and get them in the habit of moving diagonally and circling their opponent), basic straight-punches and elbow strikes, and the concepts that I mentioned in my edit to the OP.

        Due to liability issues and lack of equipment I'm thinking that a lot of the exercises I have them do will have to focus more on effective movement and clinch-work than on actually hitting stuff, unfortunately. . .

        Target audience will mostly be various groups of highschool age teens (12-18) in a very focused, highly motivated military-prep environment.
        Last edited by Eudemic; 9/15/2010 1:04pm, .

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          #5
          One more question; how many days is it? I ask because some things are a lot easier to teach if you have repeat classes (like punching or throws) that you can't do if you only have 1 or 2 goes at it.

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            #6
            Not completely sure how long I have.

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              #7
              Okay, is it 1-2 or 3+ goes with each group?

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                #8
                Two, possibly three. Not completely clear yet.

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                  #9
                  I always make an outline and a time line with the outline so I know how I am doing in spots. I also have a backup I can go into in case you get stuck with a time issue.

                  As for a theme what is it you have to teach these guys? Thats the bottom line really. If you are doing a military combatives training that is one thing. If it is basic self preservation thats another....

                  Is this a recreational or professional thing for these guys?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I'll post more later, but my first thoughts are that if you only have a few days of class, teaching a lot of punching or kicking won't be high yield. It takes about 3-4 classes of punching for people to really get it and feel like they are progressing. Consequently, I would focus on more high-yield skills that are easier to learn. Sprawling is useful, as are elbows and knees. You could also teach thigh throws. If you want to have some traditional strikes, front kicks (particularly teep style), followed by overhand rights could be trained pretty quickly, if you have some appropriate striking pads.

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                      #11
                      I've taught more seminars than I can count. Second question to ask yourself (after "how much do I get paid?") is "what do I want the participants to get out of this?" That's usually a list rather than a single answer; for example, you might decide that you want them to be inspired to take up MA as an ongoing hobby, to learn something about MA history, to appreciate the tactical correlations between a set of techniques, etc.

                      Next is, obviously, to communicate thoroughly with the organizers well before the event, to make sure that you're both on the same page re. the logistics. It's common for non-MAists to under-estimate the amount of open space required for safe training, etc.

                      Presumably you won't have mats, which will generally count out any throwing or grappling work, especially with a large group of novices in a "taster" format.

                      In terms of instructing large groups; I'm not clear on whether your classes will be electives or whether the groups are simply cycling through several seminars in different subjects. Especially in the latter case, it's important to immediately get them used to the idea that you are in charge. As Sea Cadets your students will probably be better disciplined than average for their age, but it's always easiest for people to get into a receptive and productive frame of mind as students if the instructor is clearly in charge from the outset. Exactly how you do that depends on your personal style, but it is more important with large, unfamiliar groups than otherwise.

                      From your description it sounds like you want the seminar to have a self defense focus. There are plenty of situational awareness drills that can be done with large groups and without the risk of accidental injuries through newbie teenagers getting carried away in contact drills. As a general safety tip for this sort of seminar, if you establish s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n as the default speed in your demos and drills, that will reduce a lot of risk. It also allows them to safely make actual contact.

                      Finally, mixing up the format frequently; partner work, small group work, whole group work, etc. - keeps things fresh.

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                        #12
                        It looks like there will be a total of 100 cadets attending Flagship. I will be available to those units which are interested (so, <100 total over the course of the event) for one hour instructional periods over the course of a single day. It is. . . Pretty bad, but I'm going to have to work with what I have; I've asked the CO to let the units double up so I'll have them for two hours at a time. Is there anything else you guys think I should ask for in terms of scheduling?

                        I figure it'd also be worth seeing if he can ask the coasties running the base gym if they can get some mats or pads or other equipment to work with. . .

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