CARPATHIANS (UKRAINE), 01.08.2019 – The Solovey’s ITF Fight Evolution Summer Camp is a different kind of camp. Tucked away in the Carpathian mountains, you will Train with a capital T. It is worth the long journey, in a bus that broke down – again. It is worth the Spartan conditions – although compared to last year, we had a luxurious accommodation. It is worth the daily grind of training in the morning, afternoon and evening – a week long. It is worth it, because this is where you can sharpen your skills with world champions every day, guided by the wonderful, kind and giving Sabums Oleg & Katya Solovey.
The morning was still sleeping when we arrived at Schiphol, Amsterdam. After standing in the wrong line twice, our slightly sleepwalking travel company finally got through the gate. Amsterdam was represented by Duncan and myself. Mr. Carvalho himself brought Myrthe along (who just got her black belt, recently turned 14 years old and was travelling abroad without her parents for the first time!). Shannon and Sam were channeling Koguryo.
Via a layover in Warsaw, we landed in Lviv, where our driver – and current senior male -85kg World Champion sparring – Danylo picked us up. In Ukraine, apparently people do not like to waste time on the road. So with a booming playlist shaking up the old Volkswagen van, we cruised enthusiastically southwards through the green hills to Hotel Nadiya in Ivano-Frankivsk.
One of the great things that Taekwon-Do brings for those who travel around for seminars, competitions, conventions and training camps, is the opportunity to meet people from all over the globe. This year, there were going to be 122 participants from 18 countries. So after a refreshing shower and a nap, it was time to hook up with some friends! And how cool is it, to walk into a underground bar (literally) in a Ukrainian town, and share a drink and a lot of laughs with people from Finland, Kazachstan, Georgia, Greece – and of course Ukraine – like you saw each other yesterday?
Due to a sprained ankle I couldn’t train that week. And boy, did I miss out. The Solovey style is fast, explosive, technically demanding – and beautiful to look at. The program of this year’s edition of the ITF Fight Evolution Summer Camp was structured to lay the basics early in the week, and build up to the more complex stuff later. But the Solovey “basic” doesn’t equal “easy”.
The progressions kept coming and coming. Popping footwork and linking kicks and punches in surprising ways led to mind-bending combinations for different tactical situations. The speedy techniques of Point Fighting (WAKO kickboxing) were added to the mix. And we got a taste of the mindset you need in light contact (WAKO kickboxing). Both are different games than ITF sparring, but as Sabum Oleg pointed out, you should examine them, find out what works and why, and use your findings to enhance your ITF Taekwon-Do sparring. Loved the foot sweeps!
Especially in the female black belt group, the concentration of champions was really high. And the girls were going for it. A memorable session was when we did Light Contact WAKO style. It is a joy to watch a couple of World and European medalists hitting round after round with everything they have, smacking each other around, showing great skill, and a big smile on their sweaty faces.
And did I mention the Ukrainian future? I do not know what they had been feeding on, but there were two kids (maybe 11 or 12 years old) who had serious ninja skills, moving like pros, fearless and relentless. Can’t wait to see them compete in a couple of years at the Euros or Worlds…
Pro fighters usually have an 8 week “fight camp”, with a peak of training intensity and volume in the first two weeks, followed by a 2 week taper period before the big match. This makes the Solovey camp the perfect way to start of your fight camp in preparations for the Euros or the Worlds, that are often in October.
You don’t have much energy for anything besides training, eating and sleeping while you’re at the Solovey’s ITF Fight Evolution Camp in the Carpathians, but there actually was a mid-week break (visited a huge spa in Bukovel). And of course we had the after party. And yes, it was legendary.
And what a week it was. How young “Bambi” Myrthe plunged into the whole experience. How Sam has grown as an athlete and impressed everybody with her awareness and intelligent sparring. The pure joy in Euclides’ eyes after the first training session (“This is REAL Taekwon-Do!). Shout out to my roomies (Master Thierry, Duncan and Euclides) and the girls (Sam, Shannon, Mira and Myrthe): what a ride 😀
Thank you all participants and coaches for the wonderful week. Got to mention the little “boss man”, Maxim, who runs the shop: YOU are mafia (it’s an inside joke, don’t worry).
And of course Katya & Oleg (who had to work double time because of Katya recently gave birth to their beautiful baby girl): thank you for everything you put into this camp! The camp really lives up to its name. Every time you’ll pick up new ideas when you train with the Soloveys, also in their seminars. You can experience the “evolution” as it happens. Oleg, I know you’re working on leveling up on amenities and accommodation, but secretly I kind of enjoy the whole “back to basics” vibe, so please don’t make it too comfortable 😛
See you all next year!