Poland, July 2011: Impressions

I just returned from a two-week trip to Poland with my girl. It was awesome. Our trip took us from Vienna to Warsaw, then way up north to Dabki, which is a surfer’s paradise at the baltic sea. After spending a week there, we went to Poznan for another two days. From Poznan it was back to Warsaw and eventually home.
Although there’s so much to say about Warsaw when it comes to the martial arts, I’ll skip that for now and focus on Dabki and Poznan instead. You see, Dabki is situated in quite a unique spot: on the one side, there’s the baltic sea while on the other one, there’s the Bukowo-lake. Obviously, this location makes it pretty much perfect for water-sports enthusiasts.


For me, too, the plan was to spend my days doing little but windsurfing and laying on the beach. Didn’t turn out that way, though, as the weather had its own plans: most of the time it was rainy and cold, definately not beach-like. Wind-wise, it was either completely still or extremely windy, like 8 to 9 Bouffort. Without a trapeze, that’s too much for me to be enjoyable. Hence, most of the time I spent well away from the beach and the water. The weather improved over time, though, and I even managed to get totally sun-burned on the last day. From what we heard, they had great weather and perfect wind when we were in Poznan. Tough luck, I guess.

Anyhow, while the weather wasn’t exactly tropical, it was more than suitable for a lot of other outdoor activities. Athough I’m not much of a runner for various reasons, I gave it a try in the morning. There’s nothing like starting the day with some jogging on the nearby beach just after sunrise. Running along some street in the city just doesn’t come close. I mixed up my running with some stretching and shadowboxing and I just felt great.


Since we’re talking about Poland here, it goes without saying that I wasn’t the only martial artist on the beach in the morning. You see, the Poles are really enthusastic about summer camps, especially for children. Those camps are usually cheap enough so every parent can afford them. Also, though I am pretty disappointed by the curch in general, in Poland it’s doing a good job in organizing summer camps for children from families that otherwise couldn’t pay for any holidays. Anyhow, back to the topic, when I went running for the first time, I met a group of youths and children, along with their trainer. Now that girl (the trainer) was tough as coffin-nails. First, the kids had to work their way to the beach with squat jumps . Unfortunaly, I didn’t have a camera with me, but the exercise looked like this:

When a kid didn’t do it right, it had to go back and do it again. There was no slacking off, no excuses. Then, on the beach, they spent about an hour or so playing games (most of which revolved around sprinting or wrestling). I know it must have been around an hour because they were just finishing when I returned from my run. In the end, they finished the session with 12 oldschool squats. Now you think 12 ain’t much? I totally agree. Keep in mind though, I said oldschool squats. The trainer stood in front of the group, bellowing the rep number: 1,2,3,… Whenever the group didn’t squat perfectly synchronous or there was a slight delay after the command, everyone had to repeat that rep. After three missed reps, the count was actually decreased, so the trainer counted something like that: 1! 2! 2! 3! 3! 3! 2! 3! 4! 4! 5!… In total, they did like 40 bodyweight squats. Although that isn’t all that much, keep in mind that we’re talking about kids here, kids that already spent an hour running, jumping and wrestling. Also, all of that was done before breakfast.

Talking about breakfast, it’ll be some hard work burning all those calories. Since I’m normally following the Warrior Diet, I was under the impression of doing little besides eating all day long. Everyone assured me that we were actually feeding at a normal frequency, they were just concerned with the huge amounts I ate per meal. The whole situation made me remember Pavel Tsatsouline’s praise for the Warrior Diet: „I don’t have time to graze all day – I have better things to do!“. I totally agree.

In terms of strength, I did some suspension training in the woods and introduced my little cousin (who happens to be my godchild) to the concept. Anyhow, it was more of an entertainment thing rather than serious training.

Being somewhat anxious about losing all the strength I’ve built during my last 5×5 Phase with Chris, I hit the gym three times, twice in the first week and once in the second. In this very gym, I had my first real experiences with resistance training when I was around 13 or 14. Indirectly, It was through that gym that I finally ended up becoming a Shinergy instructor, but that’s an other story. I pretty much focused on deadlifts and olympic cleans, as those will be at the core of my strength training for the coming couple of weeks.


In Poznan, we did little apart from the usual tourist stuff: walking from sight to sight, drinking coffee in cafés, losing a camera, panicking, reacquiring our lost camera, … you know, nothing out of the ordinary. Only memorably thing in terms of martial arts was when we were walking up to the citadel and met three guys practicing MMA in the park. Since I really hate to be bugged during my training, I decided not to become a bugger myself but rather leave them alone. Hence, I didn’t take any pictures.
Talking about pictures, here’s a couple random ones to give you a visual impression of my trip:

Dabki



Poznan



There’s quite a few things I’ve learnt from this trip. I’ll cover those in my next posts „Thoughts on attitude: Perfection„, „Thoughts on warmup: A new core complex„, „Thoughts on training: Pushing children towards success“ and „Thoughts on exercise: The olympic clean„.

So long,

take care

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