I may not be famous

"I may not be famous, but I sure am organzied."

Leo said I should make that my slogan after I said it to him as we were getting ready to start my seminar this morning. I was hanging out folders of information to the attendees.

The seminar went very well overall. There were 18 attendees, including 6 from outside of Leo's gym. Not too bad, especially since I only had a week to promote it. I've seen black belts get fewer people (How can only 2 people show up to a Vitor Shaolin seminar?) I guess that's the benefit of being internet famous (which is not real fame).

One of the guys had never trained before and simply wanted to see what BJJ was like, and I think afterwards he signed up to train with Leo. It means a lot to me that my enthusiasm to teach and the clarity of my instruction could get across to someone who's just sitting in the corning listening with no experience.

I'll get into the technical aspects later (I've got my own notes as a teacher to post) but one thing I wanted to talk about was my attitude towards how I ran this seminar.

One time I was talking to a lady about how I'm going to a BJJ seminar, and she asked if we just sat around and listened to a speaker. I thought that was a funny idea, a bunch of guys in gis sitting in a conference hall listening to a black belt give a Powerpoint presentation.

But what I did do is start thinking about how other professions run seminars. What would I do if I was giving a medical seminar or talking about internet marketing (which I've done before)? I decided I'd try to go for that level of professionalism.

For starters, I planned ahead. I put together a really solid lesson that I worked over in my head, wrote drafts, made notes, etc. I rehearsed teaching it several times to work out kinks beforehand and get comfortable showing it. I printed out my notes and had them on a clipboard so I could make sure I stayed on track.

I went out a bought pocket folders, card stock paper, business cards, labels and pens. I put together packets (which I'll post photos of later) that all attendees got which included a registration form (which I collected), a seminar syllabus and a pen and paper for taking notes. I also included business cards with my contact info. They all got to take this home.

My sister helped organize a lot of this, so I have her to thank. She's a receptionist for a company that does seminars for doctors, so a lot of credit goes to her.

She also came and greeted people at the door, took care the all the paper work (waiver, registration), collecting mat fees, etc. That made it easy for me to stick to my job of teaching and working with people on BJJ.

Before we started, I tried to make sure to meet everyone individually to learn their name and shake their hand. At the end, I stood at the door and personally thanked everyone and said goodbye and encouraged them to write my with any questions or feedback.

I thought about all the things I've heard people complain about at seminar and things I wished had been done differently. Then I tried to prevent those things from happening. For example...

I know one thing that can bug people is when they feel they're not getting personal attention. I made sure to circle around the room during every move and see how people were doing, correct them, answer questions, etc. I had them drilling on a timer where I'd tell them when to switch, so I could make sure everyone got to drill enough, since I hate when one person drills for too long and then the second guy loses his chance when the instructor goes on.

I really wanted to make sure everyone was getting all of their questions answered, so I repeated announced that they should yell, raise a hand, wave, anything to get my attention if they need help. I didn't want anyone keeping quiet when they had problems because they "didn't want to bother" me or something.

As we were finishing up the last move, I asked if everonye had a chance to drill it. I got the usual mumbled "mmmh" reply, but it didn't answer the question. So I repeated, "No, really, DID EVERYONE GET TO DRILL?" Then they got it. "YES!" "OKAY, GOOD!" I wasn't just being polite -- I really wanted to make sure everyone was getting it.

Before moving on to too much new material, I asked if anyone had questions. I asked several times for qustions on ANYTHING at the end just to make sure no one was going away with concerns.

I was thinking about the different skillsets guys like Leo and I bring to BJJ. He's been in sales for years; I've done IT and marketing. My approach to things is to be very organized and follow a logical progression. But I also understand that this is a service business and part of that is making sure people feel cared for and know you're paying attention to their needs.

This seminar was a great experience for me, and I think it was good for everyone who attended. Expect more notes on how I ran it, since like everything I do, they way I sort out new experiences is to write them down.

I'll be posting more info on the techniques, my notes, photos and (!!!) footage next week.

"I may not be famous, but I sure am organzied."

= money

Great more sales men in BJJ... could you be anymore full of yourself while your at it?

I'm thinking about having entrance music and a walkout at my next seminar.

Probably get a fog machine too.

I'm a big fan Mr. Aesopian. I used some of your stuff to help out our
competition team for the Mundials next week.

We've all had instructors that show a move and go sit against the wall or
check email. When I started, little attention was paid to the student. The
answer to any question was, "Just keep training."

I teach second grade and I use many of the same techniques that you just
discussed. "Making sure everyone understands" is an important teaching

Keep up the good work.

Fog machine...lol

sounds like a good seminar

I'm still at Gracie Barra Tampa. I was just down in Miami so I did a seminar at Leo's.

what was the cost of the seminar?? how long did it run for, and what level of expertise was it aimed at??

one of my main gripes with seminars has been the fact that often note taking isnt allowed or difficult, so providing material is a bonus


Sounds excellent, very well organized which is vastly different than most seminars i have ever attended.

I have attended seminars where there was no pictures or cameras allowed, then developed into no note taking, WTF...can you imagine going to a class for work or school and was told no note taking?? Thats one of the main reasons i hate seminars so much, but in the beginning thats all we had to TRY to learn from.

Keep up the good work and hopefully you can make dvd's from it, i will certainly purchase one!

p.s.........thanks for NOT letting politics stop you from training with Leo and others.

I don't think he's full of himself at all, just wants to share something he's really good at with people. And this is something he did freely. He taught a great seminar, and it would've been good for experienced browns, to day 1 white belts to attend based off of the syllabus he was teaching from. Very well broken down, and NO ONE is so perfect they don't need to drill anymore.

Even Braulio said he still drills the X-Choke from Closed Guard.

Matt did a great job which was no surprise to me. We had 2 brown belts, 4 or 5 purple belts, maybe 5 or 6 blue belts and the rest white belts.

I heard very good comments from everyone I talked to from white belts to brown belts, competitors, beginners, and MMA fighters.

It was highly organized (of course) and the material was presented in a way that made it possible for everyone to comprehend regardless of their level. Lots of question and answer and timed drilling for every position.   

Everyone told me to let them know if Matt was coming down again, and I told them we would have him back.

Thanks Matt and great job.

I took the same approach to this seminar as I take to my site, which is backwards to how a lot of people would do it.

How much did it cost? Free. But they could gives me tips for as much or as little as you want afterwards.

Could you film it? Yes. I had someone shooting HD footage that he's sending to me.

Could you take photos? Sure. I took ones that I'll post as soon as I can.

Could you take notes? Of course. I even included free pens and paper, along with a printed syllabus of what I taught.

Is it for beginners or advanced? It was for everyone. The way I taught should work for people from zero belt to black. I had white belts telling me it was great how easy it was, and I had purple belts telling me it was great how much new material I showed.

If a purple belt was getting it easily, I'd add more details. One purple belt kept asking very good questions and I'd show him more details. Then I'd grab the whole class' attention and share it with them too.

There was a white belt who'd just started that week who was having a lot of trouble. I started personally teaching different, simpler moves that related to what were doing but that I thought would be better for him. For example, he couldn't get the d'arce (which is no surprise) so I had him drilling a basic wrestling turnover that has similar arm movements, which he had no problem with.

I did a registration form that everyone filled out at the end. It asked them "What would you like to see covered in future seminars?" Here are a couple answers:

  • "Everything." (Got this twice.)
  • "Anything."
  • "Anything in such good detail."
  • "More variations of the reverse omoplata, maybe from side control." (I actually showed him some afterwards since he hung around when people were leaving.)

I'd originally planned on having 3 hours to teach, but the time got cut down because of another class needed the space. I had to drop a few moves that I'd planned to teach. I could have said nothing, since it's not like they know what I'm going to show, and it's a free seminar anyway. But I'd really wanted to share these, so I told everyone I'd be filming them and putting them on my site for free.

I know a lot of people are asking for DVDs of this seminar. I wasn't involved in the filming, since I left it up to the guy with the camera, so I'll see how it came out. What I'd really like to do is use this footage and this first seminar as feedback to put together an even better lesson, then film that in a normal instructional format. Or if the footage is good, I want to shoot extra footage where I can show the moves I felt needed more details and add the ones I didn't get to show.

But that'll have to wait. I'm down on vacation in Miami for now.


id really be interested in a copy of the vid

The guy with the footage made this teaser:

I'll be getting the rest of it later this week.

Good job you are planning to do by posting the footage. We need instructionals for instructors also (if you get the idea). I'm an instructor myself and I'm never satisfied with th eway the seminars are presented. Yours seems more like the way I'm thinking about. THX!

ttt for good seminars


Seminar sounds organized -- that is probably the only positive thing about this seminar.

lol @ a purple belt seminar.

LMAO @ "I guess that's the benefit of being internet famous (which is not real fame)."

LMFAO @ "I don't think he's full of himself at all, just wants to share something he's really good at with people." It's like you didn't read the LMAO comment or just ignored it.

This guy must be the second coming of Rickson to be REALLY good at something at the purple belt level.