Some of my fondest memories of karate training over the last 20 years involve weekend workouts, or "Special Training." During these workouts, people from other Dojo would come to our Dojo and train with us or we would travel to their Dojo to train with them. It was a special time that we could all get together for a couple hours, train intensely and learn from each other. Usually, the day ended with a cookout at someone's house or dinner at a local restaurant. Dinner conversations ranged from catching up with friends to Sensei relating stories of his training time in Okinawa to reminiscing about previous special trainings.
Generally, the host of the event would be the Sensei for the Dojo, but many times a visiting Sensei would "run" class. Training topics varied but generally focused around things we never seem to get to during the normal class schedule or new material. Learning a new Bo kata outdoors, breaking class, "Naihanchi Points", Sexy Walking (don't ask me to explain that one), orange plunger koshi discussions... all are memorable special training topics. Some of my favorite special trainings occurred shortly after someone returned from a training trip to Okinawa full of new ideas and different ways to train. Most times the information we received at these sessions became the subject for constant study for the following 6 months or so until the next special training.
Over the years, I have also attended many Karate "Seminars" with touring Masters and Grand Masters. Some of these have been better than others. Generally there is a nominal fee attached which is necessary to pay for the Masters travel expenses. I have learned much from seminars, but the quality of instruction generally lacks the kind of personal touch of Special Training. Consequently, I don't seem to be able to retain as much from seminars as I can from special training.
Our new Dojo in Tallahassee is having its first Special Training this weekend. I know we will start to build friendships that will last a lifetime and probably learn some good Karate, too!