What Can You Really Learn at a Seminar?

A few years ago we had a visitor to Systema Colorado who had just returned from Summer Camp.

He was pumped up, excited by his week of training, and a little too eager to show my students everything he learned.

This is all to be expected, because intensive training sessions engender good vibes for a week or two after they end.

All was going well until he bragged, with no exaggeration and with 100% certainty,  “going to Summer Camp was the equivalent of training for two years.”

What a ludicrous statement. On the surface it’s ludicrous, and on reflection it’s ludicrous, but that’s what the guy honestly thought.

So the student whom he said this to, did a quick calculation, “OK” he said “There’s 168 hours in a week. So let’s assume you trained for 168 hours straight,” (which they didn’t because everybody slept at least six to eight hours, had breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they had free time).

So let’s say they trained 8 hours a day and not the full 24 hours a day.  Let’s say he trained 56 hours (8 hours per day times 7 days =56 hours, but camp is really about 5 days of actual training, which would be 40 hours of training time in total).

My student comes to class 4 days a week, so he’s doing 6 hours a week training, and that’s only class time, not counting practice away from the school.

We’re closed about four weeks out of the year. Let’s say 48*6, 240 + 48 is 268 hours. Multiply that by 2 years for 572 hours. He trains about 572 hours during normal classes, and the guy trains on Sundays and does his own training away from class.

After analysis, there’s no way this visitor’s numbers could possibly add up, it’s just simple math, there’s no way his camp experience was the equivalent of two years of dedicated, weekly training.

But, for argument’s sake, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on actual training time; let’s say that it was the exact same amount of training time.

Is the quality of cramming training into one week the same quality as consistent training over time?

Now outside of Systema, a lot of research has been done on what the most valuable part of training is, of learning and is it cramming, do we know cramming, anecdotally.

Which one of those leads to more long-term assimilation of the material, cramming for a test or spreading your training and study out over time?

Anecdotally, everybody knows that when you cram for a test, the information is gone right after the test.

Research on skill acquisition shows that it’s more effective to spread out your training into short periods of deliberate practice because when you try to learn everything in one day you experience psychological fatigue, mental overload, and physical exhaustion.

When you do get too fatigued people start making more mistakes, you get sloppy and you ingrain bad habits that it then becomes harder to break.

There’s a point in relaxation where you improve you’re training, and then there’s a point where you performance degrades. Once your performance degrades, it’s time to stop, allow your body to rest and allow your brain to assimilate and integrate the new information.

Time not actively training is critical for the skills to percolate in your brain.

Large Groups vs. Smaller Classes

Would you rather devote yourself to consistent practice overtime with a skilled instructor, or to training in a group where you’re getting sporadic attention?

Would you rather walk into a room with an instructor who has learned your strengths and weaknesses better than you do, or be an anonymous face in the crowd where you might be paired up with other students who are struggling to learn and might be little to no help?

There’s no comparison.

It’s not to say that intense seminars are good or bad, they’re supplements, not primary training sources.

One reason to go to seminars is to be exposed to new material, material to take back to your school or training group to work on because you aren’t going to master the material during the seminar.  There are a lot of certified instructors who need material to then take back to their classes and drill and train.

An effective plan is to attend a weekend seminar at least every few months, and leave with enough material to work on for at least three  months until the next seminar.

Students who just jump from seminar to seminar without ever improving are like Grateful Dead Groupies. They jump from seminar to seminar for the experience, not for the skill-development.

How many Grateful Dead Groupies, who just show up to be entertained, are actually good musicians?

The next time you attend a Systema Seminar,  you will receive a different piece of the puzzle.

Then, It’s your responsibility to get to a regular class and work on the material, develop the skill so when you attend the next seminar you are ready to take your skills to new heights.

So, did our visitor display skill you would expect to see from a 2-year student?

Ask me in person. 😉

P.S. Our Next Quarterly Systema Colorado Seminar, Mystery-to-Mastery, will give you exactly the exposure you will need to take your System to the next level (of course you’ll need to review it in class later). REGISTER HERE!

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