With all my heart I would like to thank Sensei Simeon for organizing this incredible camp.
Although I have always been quite active athletically all my life, I hadn’t trained Kyokushinkai for the last 10-12 years and honestly, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to last a single full session. For the past year or so I started to feel that my balls had dropped off and I missed the resilience and strength that I felt back in the days when I trained in the lion’s den. So, for my birthday I decided that I would do the camp even if I run the risk that I may not go back in one piece. In the end it came out that being part of this 4-day journey is one of the best things I’ve done in my entire life. I left the camp having found a new family, renewed personal strength and courage, and experienced first-hand what I thought were my limits were merely me scratching the surface of my potential. In many ways that experience brought me back to life.
Location and Accommodation:
It was the first time I stayed in Sandanski. A very neat small town in South-west Bulgaria close to the mountains and the border with Greece. Very hot in the summer – feels and looks like Bulgarian version of Tuscany. People are very friendly and there was a lovely park where we did our workouts and went for walks in the evening. The gym was a healthy jog away from the hotel. The hotel was brilliant – great facilities, proper 5 stars. Best thing was that it was slightly higher up in the mountain and right next to the river where air was super fresh and you could fall asleep under the sound of the river and the nearby forest. Food was great too and personnel was hospitable and friendly.
Training was superb. In hindsight I think all sessions were well balanced and very well thought through. Instructors were also brilliant. Kiryl, Yanko (Bulgarian Wrestling Heavyweight champions) and the rest of the wrestling & MMA team demonstrated utmost professionalism as well as all were very cool and approachable for the world-class competence that they have. They showed us part of their training routines and took part in our sessions. A special guest was the Sensei Zahari Damyanov – World Kyokushinkai Champion in Absolute Category who was also an amazing person. The technical sessions that he led were awesome where he shared practical tips and combinations from his experience – I found those super helpful and the sessions were very worthwhile. We also had sessions led by Sensei Simeon’s life-long Sensei – Sensei Dimitar – a very special person who’s been a karateka his whole life and continues to hold world-class level. You could really feel he’s ascended to another spiritual and technical level – it was very impressive to be in the presence of such strong and mentally-evolved person hear him share his technical and moral advice. We also had a breathing/spiritual workshop by a disciple of Peter Danov (one of world’s most renowned spiritual leaders) – that session was also very special and super useful for breathing techniques and overall well-being. Last but not least, we climbed Mount Vihren which was quite challenging but super rewarding (honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it due to my terror of heights, however the Kyokushin family played a big part in me making it to the top). Finally, we did a super intense run session up the hill called the Pipe (pretty much the scene where Rocky’s climbs up the mountain for his fight with Ivan Drago in Part 4) one moment you feel like you’re going to die (literally) the next after you make it you feel like superman and like you should do it again. If somebody told me that I’d finish it I’d tell them they are crazy.
I would give it all five stars, while the camp gets a Michelin star for the entire experience. I could write for hours but the reality is that the only way to find out how awesome it is, is to experience it for yourself.
One last thing I want to add is that the one thing that makes the camps unique is Sensei Simeon. He is a unique person that can push you to reach beyond your limits in a way you never thought was possible and he is like a gravitational field for awesome people and you could see he’s poured his entire heart into organizing a worthwhile camp. Lead by example I think they call it. I am super happy about all the awesome people I met. If you take part in the camp, you will find what I am talking about.
I would highly recommend the camp to anyone – from beginner to expert. Obviously would be much helpful to do some prep work to be able to get out more of it, however it is by no means a competition, rather than a journey where one finds much about him/herself and has the chance to connect with brilliant people.