European Travels 2011

Master and disciples

The YMAA International Summer Camp in Poland was a lot of fun. Every day, we would wake up (or try to wake up) to make 6:30 meditation. This consisted of a lecture by Dr. Yang, followed by an actual meditation session before having breakfast. The hardest part of training at the summer camp I felt was right after breakfast. We had an hour break for food, which was immediately followed by three hours training. For me, morning training was often the hardest because it was usually the Shaolin class which lead by Nicky. We would have to practice lots of physical exercises, including push ups, sit ups, jumping, kicking, etc. Doing all of this on a full stomach did not feel very good :P

There were many different topics that were taught at the summer camp and were taught in pairs. You could decide to take one of two for each session. This year we had regular Shaolin classes, Qigong lectures, White Crane, Taiji Sword, Shaolin Sword, and Taijiquan Applications. My job was to help out with the sword and Shaolin classes.

Dr. Yang teaching applications to San Cai Jian

Other than Shaolin training, I felt that waking up was one of the hardest things to do throughout the week. We were already required to go to meditation/lecture at 6:30am. It didn’t help to be jet lagged. It also didn’t help that we were staying up until 2am or so every night playing Jungle Speed (which if I may add is one of the most awesome games I’ve ever played). Yup. Looking back at it, training 6 hours a day for a week while sleep deprived probably wasn’t the best decision to be made.. but it was hard to keep track of time. Once we started playing Jungle Speed, time disappeared :P Other than Jungle Speed, other games were brought up and played at the camp. The Irish kids brought “Ninja” while Pedro taught everyone to play “Corridor of Death”, a humorous (and pretty violent?) Portuguese kid’s game.

About half way through the week, we had a sightseeing day. This day was a lot of fun. We spent about 6 hours in total in a bus and also a couple hours in a raft in freezing cold water.. with rain! It was pretty miserable at the beginning of our rafting trip, as the water was extremely cold, the rain was making us wet, and the wind around us was pretty strong. It was hard to enjoy ourselves. However, as we began to move, we quickly warmed up and soon forgot our troubles. Groups began using paddles to splash at each other and smiles were shown all over. I have to admit, to get splashed was pretty bad.. the water was so cold and what parts of our clothes that had remained dry were soaked after the first attack. Our raft had Dr. Yang, Nicky, James, Pedro, Victor, Santi, and myself. Looking back, it may have been an unwise decision putting the majority of the camp instructors into the same raft :P

Celebrating Dr. Yang’s 65th birthday and YMAA Poland’s 25th Anniversary

At the end of the camp, we had a demo to showcase some talents from each of the different countries that attended. Included were performers from France, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, and the USA. I wore my yellow shoes. Woo :) At the end of the demo, there were two cakes presented. One for Dr. Yang’s 65th birthday celebration and one for YMAA Poland’s 25th anniversary.

After the camp, we spent a few days in Krakow where we were shown bits and pieces of the city. We were lucky to have been housed by Wiktor, whom we met at camp. We spent our time walking around and getting a feel for the city life there. We spent our last afternoon visiting Robert’s property right outside of the city. He barbecued some delicious food before sending us off to the airport. It was then off to Switzerland to visit Jáchym. Yay!

We didn’t arrive at Zurich until almost 11pm, and finally settled down at Jáchym’s just past midnight. The next day’s weather was less than satisfactory. It rained :( Jáchym decided to take us to the local science museum in order to stay indoors. It was crowded. They had a lot of great displays. I think my favorite was one where you could control the amount of water flowing into the display by pressing buttons. I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep from the week before or if I’m just easily amused. I must have spent at least 10 minutes there just pressing the three buttons over and over. Hm…

Cheese fondue!

When we returned to Jáchym’s home, we were happy to find out that his mother had prepared some cheese fondue for us. Apparently it’s not usually eaten in the summer time because of the heat, but we were lucky because the rain had cooled the temperature down. After eating massive amounts of cheese covered bread pieces, Santi and I were ready to pass out. Jáchym however, was ready to train!

Santi after cheese fondue…

The next day was spent in Zurich. We walked around the city and were shown the sites. It was interesting listening to Swiss-German after a week of Polish. We ended up walking up to an area that overviewed the city and found some people playing chess with giant chess pieces on a massive chessboard. It was fun to watch as they moved their pieces around. And yes, it was just as extreme as it was in Harry Potter.

Jáchym after cheese fondue!

We decided not to sleep that night. Jáchym took us to his friend’s apartment and the three of us ended up going out with a group of his friends into the city again. Santi and I stumbled into the airport, checked in, got onto the plane, passed out, and flew back to the States.

I had a great time in Europe. Although it probably wasn’t the best for my sleep schedule, I enjoyed myself a lot more this time than last. I felt more relaxed this time because I wasn’t constantly moving around from country to country. I didn’t have to unpack and pack every few days and could actually take time to do things. I enjoyed meeting all the people I did in both Poland and in Switzerland.

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