OLYMPUS 24.7 - 12.8.2010!

Divided into two parts, the summer seminar of A.S.Keramikos took place this year in mount Olympus. participation was large. Chief instructor D.Doukas created a different structure for the program of this year seminar extending its duration, for those who had the need to stay for a longer period on the mountain. The first part began on July 24 and lasted until August 1, while the second part started on August 1 and finished on August 8. Those who had the time and the courage stayed in the camp until August 12. People in the first group were trained in the first morning session (11am-13pm) by the chief instructor of Galatsi School Christos Papachristos. After August 1 the basic training program was carried by instructor George Divanis.
Organised by Sifu D.Doukas, the daily program had the following structure: Starting at 6.30 in the morning everyone participated in practicing the Qi Gong “The eight pieces of brocade”, taught in a previous seminar by Grandmaster Lily Lau. Being an ideal exercise for good health, this particular Qi gong helps in cultivating the internal energy, while at the same time invigorates different body organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. The early morning practice was followed by running and a half hour stretching session led by assistant instructor I.Toubakari. Breakfast would follow and the session of the main morning practice would start. Taking place between 630 pm to 9 pm, the evening practice focused mainly on forms with different weapons. Beginners were taught the first stick (Siu Lum Quan) and more advanced students -depending on their level- the daggers, the red belt’s stick (Quan Yeung Quan), and the sword (Ba Gua Do). Finally, advanced students were taught the blade and a double form with sticks. We should not forget the fact that the seminar was also attended by students of the Taiji and Xing Yi groups of the school, whom after the morning run that was common for all followed their own program practicing the 24 form of Taiji and the five elements of Xing Yi. Simultaneously, during the seminar the students M.Roussou M. Bakirtzidou and Hotza Ntorel, gave exams for the green belt, while at the end of every cycle the students demonstrated what they were taught.
Of course, the monotony of the day program was broken by the days off, that gave the opportunity for the body not so much to rest but to practice in a different way. Also a good chance to relax, since the morning wake up happened later, while twice, the organized hikes included swimming in a river. On the days off anyway Sifu D.Doukas taught his students the two first paths of “the Baguazhang 64 hands” of Lin De Kuan offering the possibility for all to come in contact with this different Kung Fu style. In addition, he focused his attentions on fighting techniques which were practiced by the participants in couples, giving the opportunity to train in contact and to understand how the techniques function on different opponents. In every day off Sifu chose a different location that was accessed either by foot or by car and training in a different environment gave through the change of setting a note of relaxation and rest to the program. Noteworthy was the eight hour hike that was organized on the first of August in which students of both groups participated. Thus, through a beautiful landscape full of high trees and rich flora, we ended up in a small valley within the peaks of mount Olympus with horses and cows. Little further on we trained in a clearing, often visited by campers. However, the top moment of the seminar as far as the outings were concerned was the ascent of the Enipea gorge. Starting from Litochoro and having arranged cars to wait at Prionia area with all whose knees couldn’t take the hard ascent, we crossed a landscape so magical that almost cuts your breath. Between high trees with steep up hills and down hills, we passed the river either from the left to the right  side. There were also flat sections where the route met the river and the path crossed it with bridges. Often, there were natural pools created by the river, with crystal clear water that became irresistible to dive in  for all, even though the water was cold like ice. Just before the path meets Prionia, we met the Cave of Saint Dionysios, where the water is coming out of the rocks.
Just before the end while we were relaxing doing fight exercise in a wonderful clearing between the peaks it started to rain and we arrived at the tavern of Prionia exactly when the rain became too strong. On our way back we drove through dark landscape with a sky full of lightings. Strong thunders showed the real power of nature and reminded us how unpredictable and sacred mount Olympus is. If it accepts you it can make you experience unforgettable moments of tranquility and relaxation right before it reveals to you its power and grandeur.
In conclusion it is worth mentioning that moments of relaxation were not missed after the evening dinner but also entertainment organized by Sifu D.Doukas. On the first occasion the charismatic musicians and students A.Nonis and N.Paraoulakis played improvisational percussion and Nei, while Alkisti pleasantly surprised us singing Flamenco. In the next occasion a theater night was put up under the stars with the help of 2 camping stoves in which the actor and student E.Makri presented a monologue of Virginia Wolf that she had played in a theatre the previous winter and tied amazingly with the natural surroundings of mount Olympus.