Double take: two camps one week

It’s been quiet on the blog for a reason. For two reasons, to be precise:

First, I’ve been to the beautiful Yspertal here in Austria, looking after the Shinergy youth at our annual training camp.

Second, a trip back to Vienna had me teach obese children at another summer camp aimed at bringing those girls and boys back to a healthier lifestyle.

I really had a great – if exhausting – week. Here I’m going to summarize some of my impressions on the two camps.

Shinergy Summer Camp ’09

The instructor team consisted of

  1. Denis, one of three Shinergy master instructors,
  2. Chris, a good friend of mine, director of Shinergy[manhattan] in Viennas 19th district and co-director of Shinergy[aspern] in Viennas 22nd district,
  3. Sabine, my girlfriend and
  4. myself.

Accompanying us were 23 kids and youngstars ranging from 6 to 16 years. Of course, such a variance in age and maturity put some stress on us when it comes to designing a program that suits everyones needs.

Basically, the daily layout on the camp was something like:

  • 08:00 AM Breakfast
  • 10:00 AM Training
  • 12:30 PM Lunch
  • 14:30 PM Outdoor activity
  • 18:30 PM Dinner
  • 07:30 PM Evening activity

Needless to say, keeping up the warrior diet I practice here in Vienna was not an option there. There was simply no way to sufficiently fill up the stores with what they served there as dinner. With that being said, I have to add that the food was delicious.


A training session was made up zazen (zen meditation) to focus onto the here and now. Afterwards, the kids and youngsters would be put through a series of stability and coordination drills.

As for the cardiovascular warmup, we had them play various games. Amongst them were reaction games, running games and even team-sports such as landhockey, basketball, etc. Some of those games also involved basic bodyweight exercises such as pushups and squats.

After warming up, we did some dynamic stretching and directly went on to technique training

In order to keep the youngsters motivation high, we held a so-called „camp cup“. Basically, we awarded the kids points according to their performance with a given technique. We judged speed, power, precision and technical prowess. After each round of padwork, each trainer would award one point for the „Mickey Mouse“ group – our 6 youngest kids – and another three points for the rest.

The tecnique training consisted of kicking and striking, all the grappling was done in a seperate lesson.

Interestingly, a boy from my school Shinergy[stadlau] won the competition in the Mickey Mouse group. Now I say „interestlingly“ because that boy – Emanuel – is not what you’d call a natural born athlete. There’s no strongly developed killer instinct or inherent understanding for combat either.

You see, Emanuel really has to work hard for even the slightest technical improvement. Other kids come to my school and learn the basic techniques in no time. Some of them did other sports earlier, such as soccer, floor exercises or even some other martial art. Emanuel didn’t.

For him, learning a technique requires a great deal of concentration and effort.
However, the reason he won the competition is that he simply did what he was told, no more, no less. As a example, one combination the kids had to do during padwork was

  1. Rear spear elbow strike with step,
  2. Spinning elbow strike.

Altough that’s pretty simple, most kids just didn’t focus enough on what they did exactly. Sometimes they skipped the step during the spear elbow, sometimes rotated into the wrong direction, were inaccurate, etc.

Emanuel, on the other hand, despite doing everything at his own – slow – pace, did the combination correctly. He’s never stricken this combo before. On the technical side, he wasn’t superior to the others. All it came down to was concentration and the discipline to stop talking and just listen when one of the trainers gave instructions.

Outdoor activity

Our outdoor activities mostly revolved around playing beachvolleyball or hiking to the nearby lake for a swim. You see, we had really hot weather with temperature rising above 30 degree celsius every day, so things like running weren’t particularly suitable. On a side note, there was a group of youngsters that wasn’t willing to adhere the rules when it comes to bedtime, so I took them on a morning run over the hills. Since that morning, bedtime wasn’t an issue anymore.

On one day, Denis took the Mickey Mouse group to the indoor swimming pool while I did some grappling training with the older youngsters. While Shinergy specializes in standup-fighting, I basically tried to cover a couple of throws, sweeps and takedowns in the lesson so a grappler wouldn’t surprise them by just dropping to his knees and pitchfork them over the mat with a double leg or anything of the like.

Evening activity

In the evenings, we watched films or played games, performed pantomime etc. The goal was to recover from the day and relax a bit.

Summer XXL

I’ve only spent a couple of hours at the summer XXL camp, which was held in Vienna by the „Volkshilfe Donaustadt“ group. You can find information about them at (german language only).

Those guys did a great job on organizing a camp for obese youngsters where they were supervised by trainers and nutritionists. Keep in mind, though, that trainers, coaches, etc. can only do so much as to offer a little assistance and information, the real work comes from those kids.

I’m really looking forward to hearing about their successes.

As usual, all associated media can be downloaded from the Shinergy[stadlau] media library.

Take care,


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