Get a bunch of great people, passionate about martial arts, put them in a pleasant location of the Hungarian country side and get them to train martial arts for 13 hours over a period of 5 days (some of them 19 hours in 7 days), in temperatures ranging between 25 and 32 degrees Celsius. Blend in some great activities like see sighting, thermal SPA, wine tasting and eating most meals in a good restaurant and, no doubt, you get a successful Summer Camp.
Main purposes for the Summer Camp, now at its fifth edition, is having a great holiday in an unusual location and at the same time enjoy an important amount of highly focussed training hours. This allows all participants to learn new things, practice and correct mistakes about their own techniques and have great fun in the process. All sessions were outdoors, on grass, in the shade offered by some nice trees.
Day 1 – Friday – Cambridge to Csokonyavisonta (via Budapest)
While 7 people flew in from Luton one was on a train from Cambridge across Europe and another one by train from Munich. They all met at Budapest airport, rented a total of three cars and drove to Csokonyavisonta, arriving at about 6 P.M.
Soon after their arrival all participants were allocated to their accommodations: within half an hour the first session started, at 6:30PM. Given the short time before closure of the only decent restaurant in the village we decided to train just for an hour practising a few Wing Chun drills. I run the overall lesson, technically helped by Andrea that is an expert of Wing Chun.
Dinner at the local Korona Etterem (restaurant) and an early sleep was due: just a few welcoming drinks at the house and meeting arranged for the following day at 9AM, ready to start.
Day 2 – Saturday
While warming up I checked with the various participants what topic they were mostly interested in covering during the next 4 session, lasting 3 hours each. Here is the list of topics to focus on:
- Boxing (2)
- Close range fighting
- Hook punches (2)
- Hook kicks
- Sparring in a competitive way, e.g. mini tounament (4)
- Foot work (2)
- Body movement, weight shifting and balance
- Training in pairs with unexpected attacks
- Axe kicks
- Combinations with several changes of guard
- Basics (2)
- Special combinations
Having a total of four instructors, with 2 black, 1 brown and 1 blue belt, in a group of ten people surely added great value to the whole camp and people with lower rank truly appreciated the level of attention they received throughout the whole Summer Camp.
The Saturday session covered the following topics, more or less in this order:
Boxing: close range jab-cross vs. hook-hook; passive defence vs. attack; we then added kicks, one person attacking with kicks and punches and the other just punching. This was forcing the person using reduced set of techniques to force himself/herself to work hard on guard, footwork, evasive moves and so on.
We then did some sparring alternating half and full speed, light contact both hands only and complete kickboxing.
For the afternoon we agreed to visit Villany a famous wine district where we had some wine tasting and nibbles. On the way back we had dinner in Pécs a nice city well known to everybody who has been to CARISMA summer camps.
Day 3 – Sunday
We started with combinations that require change of guard and stance several times: these are excellent and both improve guard and foot work. This kind of training draws attention to the importance of finishing each technique in a way that allows the next one to start properly, optimizing the whole sequence and reducing extra foot work and time wasting.
Some of the combinations practiced were:
- Front kick f.l. followed by round kick r.l. and then round kick with the same leg (f.l.)
- Front kick f.l. followed by round kick r.l. and then side kick with the same leg (f.l.)
- Uppercut f.a. – Uppercut r.a. – Hook punch f.a. followed by round kick f.l.
- Cross – Hook punch f.a. – spinning back side kick followed by jab-cross-hook
For the second part of the session we organised a small light contact competition where one pair of fighters at a time was competing with 1 central referee and 3 external judges.
We then had a few session of co-operative sparring where alternating each opponent had the opportunity of putting together a combination of 2 to 5-6 strikes.
We concluded this session with half an hour of Multicombat combinations in the midday sun: this was a nice gesture of mine to remind people to be on time for the following sessions 🙂 We finally cooled down.
We spent the rest of the day chilling out (swimming, thermal baths, playing chess) in the same thermal SPA and pool resort where we were training. Later that day we had a few hours walk (as we did not do enough sport that day) in a beautiful forest nearby and then dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 4 – Monday
After warming up good part of this session was taken up by power work: the importance of proper alignment of body and limbs in order to deliver maximum power at all times was emphasized several times during this exercise. We worked primarily at techniques like:
- Round kick front and rear leg
- Front kick front and rear leg
- combinations of the above
We then experimented on a visualization technique: analysing in detail, while sitting and breathing slowly, a combination in order to rehearse in our mind and then practice it to test if the visualization helped the performance.
We spent the remaining half hour on technical issues involving axe kicks, the subtleties involved in their proper execution and how to optimise them and the we cooled down.
Plan for the afternoon for a nice, traditional goulash that was prepared thanks to a perfectly co-ordinated team work. While a few people started to prepare a cold lunch based on bread, cured meats, cheese and fresh vegetables the others started cutting and chopping the various ingredients: the actual cooking phase of the goulash, in a traditional cauldron over the open fire, started at around 3:30PM. The cooking time, in excess of 5 hours was to be spent relaxing, chatting having a drink and with Adam playing his guitar. The result managed to exceed expectations.
Day 5 – Tuesday
6 of the participants to the summer camp were living soon after this session that consisted of:
- Pushing around and basics of street fighting engagement.
- Combinations that involved sliding while performing double kicks with the same leg. More emphasis on sliding and its implications.
- We then run a number of rounds of sparring.
We then spent the afternoon visiting Orfü a beautiful hill nearby Pécs full of natural ponds, big enough to have proper beaches and many people swimming around.
Day 6 – Wednesday
Being the last full day we decided to have an easy day (after training, the session was as hard as the others). Training was organized at the Barcs SPA complex, 15 Km from Csokonyavisonta with the intention to spend there a good part of the day.
The session involved: hook kick clinique. Starting from the basics of the movement from lying position we evolved the training into standing while holding onto an object and then applying the technique to a target hitting from the front leg.
We then moved into hook punch clinique: after a short overview of the technique and its applications from both the front and rear arm we passed to applications that always use double hook punches with the front arm.
We then spent the remaining half hour of the session working on very basic concepts of knife defence and fighting.
The rest of the day was spent chilling out in the spa complex, swimming in the pools, and enjoying the sauna and the large Jacuzzi.
Day 7 – Thursday
This was the conclusive session of the camp for this year: we wrapped up some of the concepts explained in the previous sessions and then did more work on boxing in passive defence to develop easy approach to accept punching attacks and reduce the tension usually induced.
More work on hook kicks from rear leg, front leg and spinning back.
We finished with some basic moves of Wing Chun.
Once more this summer camp was a great success. I list below the reasons that I see as the most relevant ones to consider participating to the next Summer Camp:
- all participants get to do lot of highly focussed training (this year 13 hours for who stayed 5 days and 19 hours for the others): they get to work of what they would like to improve and receive a great level of attention to help correcting mistakes and improving performance;
- for some people it’s noticeable the improvement of a particular technique that perhaps was never as good as it could get and it was corrected during the Summer Camp;
- it gives me the possibility of getting interesting feed back, from different people at different levels of their martial arts experience, about how to keep improving the way we run the club and our classes;
- it helps the various people at the Summer Camp to bond beyond the usual “hi-train-goodbye” pattern that some people follow and develop interesting personal and friendly relationships with some other members of the club;
- at its 5th edition the Summer Camp has now a tradition with a few people who were there most of the times, a few people that have been a 1-2 times and a few first timers: this offers continuity and diversity at the same time;
The first and second year’s Summer Camp were still to be considered one-off events; the Summer Camp is now a tradition to continue for the years to come. I personally missed all people that have been at the Summer Camp before and could not make it this year but I would like to mention Duncan who could not be with us due to family issues: apart from his highly appreciated expertise as a martial artist and instructor we obviously missed the top quality of the pictures that he usually takes. I’ll be working on the official video for the Summer Camp 2009 that will be released as soon as technically possible.
Apart from myself participants to the summer camp were: Adam, Andrea, Chris, Georgios, Heley, Linda, Mark, Ronnit and Wez. I would like to thank them all for the great work and commitment in the training and fun activities that once more made me enjoy it so much and inspired me to organise the Summer Camp 2010.
I would appreciate comments to this post from people thatwere there and from those that missed it: thank you in advance.