"A world-class training camp."
It's 00:20 am on a Friday morning, I'm sat inside the departure lounge at Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok waiting to board a flight to Okinawa. This gives me some time to reflect on the past two-weeks spent at THE MARTIAL CAMP, an internal martial arts training camp in which people from across the globe attended to improve their skill and knowledge in the internal arts.
Attempting to write an article to summarize the camp is not an easy task. I have countless memories and recollections running through my mind as I sit and ponder on the event. Trying to write about them all goes far beyond the scope of this article. However, I will try my best to compile an overview of what I consider to be a milestone for martial arts and an event that changed the lives of all 31 persons that attended.
DAY ONE - MEETING THE GROUP.
It was clear from the offset that everyone had one thing in common. They had all entered the camp with an open mind. They had come to learn. The camp had attracted a marvelous group of people from across the globe with varying levels of skill. Some, being world renown teachers with more than 30 years of martial arts experience. Traveling from as far as the U.S, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Lao, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and the U.K. to take part in the 13-day training camp. Liang De Hua, Nima King, Yap Boh Heong, Sergio Iadarola, and Adam Mizner were the instructors headlining the event and no doubt the main reason why people had traveled so far to attend.
INTENSIVE TRAINING TWICE DAILY.
The martial arts training took place twice a day (morning & afternoon) inside the training hall located on-site at the resort. Morning training mostly consisted of learning and training various Nei Gong sets, designed to transform the body by activating and stretching the connective tissues (tendons, ligaments & fascia.). As well as training methods designed to Sink the Qi with a focus on the development of Song (release) and Yi (focus & intention.) These sets were often paired with body opening exercises to help eliminate any unnecessary tension in the body, open the joints and decompress each individual vertebrae.
This method of training is essential for development in the internal arts and many of the Nei Gong sets taught to the group are considered secret and unknown as they are generally only taught to closed-door students.
After a 1.5-hour lunch break, training resumed again in the afternoons. The Nei Gong and body opening exercises had laid a foundation for the afternoon training and partner exercises. The focus in the afternoons was geared towards application and using the skills cultivated in the morning's to gain control of the partner when practicing various Tui Sau (push hands), Chi Sau (sticky hands) and other partner originated exercises. The group quickly learned how to strike using their new internal engine, giving them the ability to increase their punching and kicking power significantly. All of the teachers gave each person in the group hands-on instruction as they moved around correcting and demonstrating how it feels when the moments are done correctly. One-To-One instruction and demonstrations were a key factor in the development of the group. I could see many smiles among the crowd as they began to understand how to make use of the skills they had been training.
Once the afternoon training had finished, the group left the training hall and made their way to the outdoor swimming pool/communal area of the resort. This was a popular meeting place for everyone as they could order fresh coconuts, local coffee, snacks, and ice cream while they sat and exchanged notes on the training they had learned. The teachers would later come to join them, giving everyone the opportunity to ask further questions regarding the training, offering more insights and knowledge to the group. Having the opportunity to sit and talk freely with world-class teachers in a relaxed environment is a rarity, and was very much appreciated by everyone at the camp. For those who were tired out from the training, they could be found sunbathing by the pool or enjoying a Thai massage in the lounge area overlooking the mountain.
CULTIVATION OF 'SKILL & CHARACTER.'
Right from the offset I had begun to witness a change happening within the camp. The group had become more grounded, their striking power was much more powerful and heavier than before. They had begun to understand how to release tension in their body and use the connective tissue (tendons, ligaments & fascia) to generate power, instead of relying on brute force to command their movements. Within just a few days of intensive training, it was clear that almost everyone in the group had a clear understanding of the training and had made a significant jump in skill.
There was also a noticeable change taking place within their body. I could see that people were now holding less tension in their arms and shoulders. Their posture was more upright and aligned. Everyone seemed happier and were smiling more compared to when they first entered the camp. The Nei Gong exercises taught to the group had begun to take effect in the cultivation of both skill and character. It was incredible to witness these life-changing benefits happening within the group as a result of following the prescribed training methods.
TEAM BUILDING & OUTINGS.
Outside of the intensive training, I had planned several group trips and excursions which included visits to the famous Chiang Mai night markets, waterfalls, a 'long neck' tribal village, several Buddhist temples, a Muay Thai boxing event and guided meditation training with Buddhist monks. However, it's fair to say that the most popular trip I planned for the group was spent up close and personal with Thai elephants at an elephant sanctuary located in the jungle of Ma Sae, 30km outside of Chiang Mai city center.
We arrived at the elephant home at 9 am and was greeted by four elephants (3 adults & 1 baby). The group spent time feeding the elephants and learning more about their diet and general behavior from the on-site veterinarian. I'm happy to say that riding elephants is sticky prohibited at most elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai. So we were blessed to walk side by side with the elephants as we headed towards the jungle into the mud bath and elephant bathing area. The elephants swam freely in the water, before being treated to a herbal body scrub conducted several members of the group. Ultimately ending with a water fight between the four elephants and thirty-one martial artists. Watching the elephants run to the group and spray water from their trunks brought laughter and smiles to everyone there, and is a precious memory that will stick with me for a long time.
PLANNING THE NEXT CAMP FOR JANUARY 2020.
After the incredible success of the 2019 camp, I have already begun to organize THE MARTIAL CAMP 2020, which is scheduled to take place in Chiang Mai Thailand, January 2020. Many of the attendees from this years camp are already planning to return next year, so I wouldn't be surprised if the 2020 camp sells out fast, as spaces are limited. I have an incredible lineup of teachers planned for the event with many group trips and excursions planned so I'm sure it will be another life-changing experience for all who attend.
I have attached some of the testimonials below for everyone to read, as I feel that it adds a new perspective and dynamic to what I have written and shared with you in this article.
Hightlights from the camp posted on social media