Sunday Practice and the Bachkovo Monastery

Posted on Apr 25, 2016 in Bulgaria

After having a whole day to rest and relax we decided to hold Sunday morning practice at Vasil Levski. Coach Pavil, of the Sport Group Athletic team at the school and our guide for the whole week, generously offered to help us work on technique from 9-11 am. In addition to his extensive wrestling and coaching experience in Bulgaria, we was a national team coach in Syria and Samoa. He brings together techniques, tactics and combinations from all over the world and shared them with us.

The kids went through their first Bulgarian style warm up on their own and are getting a feel for the more common exercises. We have talked a lot among our coaching staff and the wrestlers about the laid back feel and slow-build approach to practices and that’s true of their warm-ups too. Where we typically start the warm-up with running, they start with walking. Where we just pop into a bridge, they roll out their necks in several positions before they get into a full bridge. They take time to roll out their wrists and knees and even warm up their ears.

Coach Pavil showed us a variety of turns from par terre and, once again, his simple explanations and focus on proper positioning made the holds really accessible for all of our wrestlers. We could also see, throughout the practice, a bunch of direct applications to folkstyle wrestling.

A view of the mountains from inside the Bachkovo Monastery courtyard.

A view of the mountains from inside the Bachkovo Monastery courtyard.

After practice we had lunch and left for the mountains south of Plovdiv and the Bachkovo Monastery, one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. Sunday was a popular name day in Bulgaria so many people were traveling to the monastery to receive the blessed willow branches that signify health and happiness throughout the year.

The road leading to the monastery entrance is lined with shops creating a large market with stalls selling crafts, food and homemade jams, honeys, and other stuff. Once inside you can practically feel the history of the place which was built in 1083. There are water fountains fed my mountain streams at the front gate. We explored the inner courtyard and visited the famous church that is in the process of having all of its murals restored. Many members of the team followed the Bulgarian tradition of creating a crown with the willow branches to ensure health and happiness throughout the year.

When we finished at the monastery, people shopped for food and gifts in the market and then we headed back to Plovdiv.



Sport Group Athletic