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Event Report: Shinergy[stadlau] summer camp 2012

Saturday evening, I returned from the first ever Shinergy[stadlau] training camp. Thanks to the awesome people that took part, this was a great experience. I really couldn't have wished for more.

You see, I've had my share of camps, both as an athlete as well as an instructor. This time, however, I took up the roles as both instructor and manager. Put quite some time into planning the whole thing. Still, I was more or less convinced we'd need to improvise a lot - after all, I've never managed a camp before, so I really had no experience in that matter whatsoever. Anyhow, I was struck by surprise as to how little improvisation was necessary in the end. There were virtually no significant deviations from the initial plan. In fact, everything went so smooth that besides acting as the manager and instructor, I had the opportunity to partake in every session myself.

The next couple of paragraphs will give you an overview over that fantastic week.

The Group
First things first - what made that camp so special was the unique group. This was not a fight-prep camp for elite athletes, mind you. Our bunch was made up of people from all walks of life, each with his personal ideas, goals and reasons for practicing the martial arts. I guess, in theory we were far too heterogenous to actually survive a week together. In practice, however, (nearly) everything worked like a charm.

The Location
The camp took place in the village Stein, Styria. More precisely, we lived and trained at the Andante guesthouse (www.andante.st). The place is run by a lovely couple, Nicole and Gerald, whose son is a Shotokan Karateka himself. Aside from five beautiful rooms, a dining room and a sufficient kitchen, the facility also offered a pond and a seminar room. Especially the latter was of vital importance to us, as the weather in Austria isn't particularly realiable, even in august. We were extremely lucky in that regard, though - we only had to do one session indoors. Turned out this was a good thing, as the seminar room was smaller than I remembered from my first visit*.

The Schedule
Training sessions took place three times a day:
  • shadow sparring in the morning
  • padwork and conditioning around noon
  • rope skipping, partner exercise and sparring in the evening
Each training was followed by a main meal. Shortly before the sessions, there were snacks
  • ~08:00 Shadow Sparring
  • ~09:00 Breakfast
  • ~11:30 Protein shake
  • ~12:00 Padwork and conditioning
  • ~14:00 Lunch
  • ~17:00 Some fruit
  • ~17:30 Sparring
  • ~19:00 Dinner
Now that's quite a schedule, if you ask me. Since three sessions a day take their toll, I decided to toss in a regeneration day halfway through the camp:
  1. Sunday - arrival day, 2 sessions (noon & evening)
  2. Monday - 3 sessions
  3. Tuesday - 3 sessions
  4. Wednesday - regeneration day, 1 session (shadow sparring only)
  5. Thursday - 3 sessions
  6. Friday - 3 sessions
  7. Saturday - 2 sessions (morning & noon)
On wednesday, everyone was free to spend the day as he/she wishes. Most of us hit the nearby Spa (Loipersdorf), while others went for a hike to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Styria. Over the course of the rest of the week, we trained for almost 30 hours.
The progression
If you're not familiar with the tale of Milos of Croton, you should definately take some time to go through it. You can find a decent version [here]. Anyway, I decided to design the sessions in a progressive manner. The progressions I used were
  • Morning session - start with 10 rounds, add a round each day, up to 15 rounds on saturday
  • Noon session (padwork) - start with 9 rounds of padwork, work up to 14 on saturday
  • Noon session (conditioning**) - 3 ladders of 1-3 for the first two days, then 3 ladders of 1-4 for days 3 and 5, finally*** 3 ladders of 1-5 for the last two days (that's 18, 30 and 45 total reps respectively)
  • Evening session (rope skipping) - 2 rounds of rope skipping on the first day, 7**** on the last
  • Evening session (sparring) - 2 rounds of sparring on the first day, 10 on the last
Expressed in a more concrete fashion, this means:
  • shadow sparring + 50%
  • padwork +64%
  • conditioning + 250%
  • rope skipping + 350%
  • sparring + 500%
Although that appears rather drastical on the first look, we were able to implement all of it, except for the very last day of rope skipping and conditioning.

The Lessons
Much to my surprise, most things worked out just as I planned them. Still, there's a thing or two I'll do differently the next time:
  • This time, we had a BBQ on friday night. Although that seems like a good day, it's not particularly well suited for our needs. You see, saturday was the hardest training day of the week - every session reach a maximum in terms of volume and intensity. Also, breaking took place. Hence, being wasted by a long night and lots of beer ain't that good an idea. So, next year, I'll put the BBQ on the evening before the regeneration day. That way, everyone can party as much as he/she wants with no negative impact on training performance or increased risk of injury.
  • To avoid extreme soreness in the second half of the week, I scheduled a morning shadow sparring session at the regeneration day. Chris later told me that this wasn't all that well received by some people. Personally, I totally believe in active regeneration. Still, if this ruins someone's regeneration day, it's just not worth it. Hence, next time, I'll just advise everyone to do some yoga or shadow sparring on their own. Everyone can then decide for him/herself.
  • Conditioning was too intense. Especially the pistols wasted everyone's tighs. Truth be told, with three training sessions a day, additional conditioning isn't really necessary anyway. Therefore, I'll just take a suspension trainer with me next time. Everyone can then work on stability issues on his/her own, if that really seems necessary.
  • We really had a hard time keeping the schedule - most of the time, the evening session was considerably delayed. Next time, I'll schedule it for a later time.
The first Impression
I don't have much photo material yet, but here's a couple of pictures to give you a first impression...

As soon as I get my hands on more pictures, I'll obviously upload them here.
So long,

take care

* I first visited the guesthouse about four years ago during a workshop on TCM and Qi-Gong
** For conditioning, we did either pushup variations or squat variations, in an alternating fashion
*** On the last day, we skipped the squats
**** In matter of fact, due to high fatigue levels, there was no rope skipping on the last day


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