What Is the Difference Between a BJJ Camp and a Seminar?

One of the best things about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that there are different ways of learning it. Apart from the usual class structure, seminars and BJJ camps are great options to pick up new skills, meet up like-minded people, and have lots of fun. 

Sometimes, people think there’s no difference between a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu camp and a seminar. Let’s clear that up once and for all, shall we?

The Difference Between a BJJ camp and a Seminar

Should you go to a camp or a seminar?

Both! 

How often should you participate in such training opportunities outside of regular classes?

As often as possible!

Both camps and seminars are great opportunities to gain a fresh perspective on Jiu Jitsu, roll with different people, and learn from professors with different coaching styles.

When it comes to seminars, they don’t have to physically take place outside of your own academy. Oftentimes academy owners organize seminars within the gym by bringing high profile instructors to teach. A BJJ camp, on the other hand, is different and requires a lot more logistics and effort to set up, which is why they’re far fewer in number compared to seminars.

What is a Jiu Jitsu Seminar?

A Jiu Jitsu seminar is an event that usually lasts a few hours. Seminars are quite ubiquitous within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For the person teaching the seminar, they’re a great way of not only spreading knowledge but also making a living from a lifetime of dedication to the sport. For the participants, they’re a chance to learn from experts in the field, as well as meet up new people and “test” themselves against different training partners.

People in BJJ Seminar
Photo from BJJ Summer Week

Usually, a BJJ seminar has a central topic that it covers, given that there are only a few hours to present it. Different professors organize them differently, depending on their teaching style. In essence, all seminars have an introduction to the subjects, some fundamental framework instructions, and lots of variations. The trick is to provide everyone, from white belt to black belt, with something to learn. And that is not an easy task!

Some seminars are set up in a Q&A manner, where the subject is determined by the questions of participants. However, only some of the biggest names in grappling usually take such a route.

Over the course of the seminar people usually get to work with different partners, and they get access to lots of material. A seminar might provide you with as many new moves or concepts as a month of training usually would. That is a lot of new information to process, making structure and the teaching style absolutely essential to how successful a seminar is.

Rolling is usually a part of seminars, albeit at the end and not more than a few rounds.

The Anatomy of a BJJ Camp

A BJJ camp, on the other hand, is quite different from both a seminar and a regular class. In fact, you could argue it is a hybrid of both of them, organized in a very unique fashion. A BJJ camp is not like traditional martial arts camps that take place in summer and are just a more intense and action-packed version of day-to-day training.

A BJJ camp usually lasts a few days. It can range anywhere from 3 to 7 days, or sometimes longer. Camps frequently take place at scenic locations and may host a lot more people than seminars. Moreover, camps also have multiple instructors teaching multiple classes.

In a BJJ camp, there’s usually no one subject that is the topic of the camp. Depending on the camp format, each instructor has one or more daily classes. Classes can also range from a few per day, up to 8 or 10.  In between Jiu Jitsu classes, there are usually open mat sessions where people can roll as much as they want.

Lately, there are also BJJ focus camps being organized. These are camps that focus on one area of Jiu Jitsu, for example leg locks, and get the utmost experts in that area to teach. These focus camps offer a completely different camp experience.

Another thing that sets camps apart from seminars is their social aspect. At a BJJ camp, people usually stay in the same place, adjoining or close to the training venue. Moreover, people eat together and share other activities outside of the mats, like workshops, surfing, winter sports, and partying. Taken together this creates a unique experience that nothing but a BJJ camp can offer.

Photo made at Okami Summer Camp

In terms of material, you could theoretically get more information at a 7 day BJJ camp than during a year of doing regular classes at an academy.

Spot the Difference

Now that we know how a BJJ camp and a BJJ seminar look, let’s try and spot the main differences. After all, it is the differences that make both of these training modalities fun and original ways to learn outside what we perceive as standard.

First up, the most obvious difference – time. A BJJ camp rarely lasts less than 3 days, whereas seminars are at most a day-and-a-half event. That is a huge difference in the time you get to spend on the mats, and even off of them, in the company of like-minded people that usually talk about little other than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Next, we have subject matters. While a seminar might act as a focal point to go deep on a single topic, camps provide a platform to learn a lot about many different areas of BJJ. There’s value in the smaller number of people in most seminars compared to camps when it comes to getting individual attention, but focus camps mitigate this problem if you’re dead set on specializing on a certain topic.

Another difference is in the interactions you’ll have with the teachers and your peers. The structure of a seminar allows you to train with a few partners and roll a little. You might even end up rolling with the professor if there is time. In a camp, you get to roll a lot more, you’ll certainly have the opportunity to roll with all the instructors and you also get to bug them with questions they’re willing (or at least pretending to be) to answer throughout the BJJ camp.

One last aspect to consider is the price and logistics of both. Seminars are generally cheaper than a BJJ camp, and if they take place in your gym you won’t have to travel. Camps are usually held at locations that can house everyone, and provide an environment you’ll enjoy for a few days. 

Camps usually require you to pay for travel, accommodations, and food. There’s also the price of camps, which, given the multiple days and the number of instructors is often higher than that of seminars.

Summary

This is not a BJJ camp vs. seminar debate – the fact of the matter is that both offer different and unique ways to learn more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It would be ideal if you could manage to get to a few of each in a year, but if not, try to make it to at least one BJJ camp and one seminar!

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