I started here from sport fighting and competitive martial arts. I coached some Martial Arts Tricking, and was a regular at Club540. I got into this art because it was a less violent way to have goals that I could strive to defeat. I wanted to continue along the path that I had begun with tricking and simply have an outlet for physicality. I wanted to be a traceur.
Then I was drawn to the purist parkour styled thinking. Why do the flip if it wasn’t efficient? Why aerial over a park bench when a simple vault would suffice? I began to question my movements and try to simplify to what was NEEDED to accomplish certain movements. I wanted to be stronger to be able to deal with more/different things, perhaps to be useful, but more just to be able in general. As I progress daily, my motivation is slowly becoming more spiritual than physical, because I am physically able to do more of what I imagine doing. It’s the culmination in my body of my mind’s expression.
Then I realized that if I wasn’t doing it for efficiency, then I was simply doing it to expand. I am expanding possibilities, pushing envelopes for their sake alone. Why did I stop flipping? Why did I decide to cut down the possibilities to a rigid structure of what was “needed” when really nothing was “needed” at all? When was the last time that I “needed” to hold a front lever for 30 seconds? I was doing this all for me. I am doing this all for me.
I’m not trying to put down anyone’s ideas about parkour. It’s very much an individual experience, but for me, I’m not going to avoid the chance to do something inefficient just to fit someone else’s idea of what my movement “should” entail. Does the ability to do a front flip help you save someone from a burning building? No, but it can’t hurt.
Credit goes to Joe Brock (who posted this on the American Parkour forum here:
Parkour, stripped down, is the use of space. It’s how we fill space, how we move through it. It’s a process. And it has often struck me when training and moving that the vast majority of that space is filled with what most would consider to be ‘unspectacular’ movement: that is, the gaps and distances that exist before, between and after the obstacles we fly over and through, around and under. The approach to a jump, the steps between vaults in combination, the landing and rolling and running again after a drop – these are where we spend most of our time, not actually engaged in the saut de bras or cat-pass that occurs so quickly and is over in a flash.
Long ago I began to think that the essence of parkour actually happens between the application of the ‘techniques’ themselves; in the spaces between. It’s the use of those spaces that makes the difference between good parkour and simply good stunts or tricks. A balanced and well paced run-up, for example, makes a good jump happen; efficient and dynamic steps after a landing maintain momentum going into the next movement; coming out of a roll with balance and stability provides the ability to flow seamlessly on towards the next set of challenges. For me the parkour happens in those spaces, in that larger movement that contains the individual techniques. And it’s often neglected.
I look at those techniques – the difficult jumps, the tricky landings, the dynamic vaults – as equivalent to peak experiences in life: they are what we train for and strive for, but in truth they come and go quite quickly and, in isolation, mean very little. Only in context do they have a point. That context is constituted by everything that precedes and succeeds those peak moments: the movements are given meaning by everything that comes before and after them. The spaces between.
The real quality of our movement, as of our lives, is held in the way we deport ourselves in those larger and less obviously glorious spaces. Who are we when not overcoming a great physical challenge or achieving some stupendous athletic feat? Who are we when not enduring a rigorous test of the mind or pushing ourselves to our limits? Who are we in those spaces between, in our daily living, our simple movement between jumps? Who are we in every moment, not just the ones that require our focus and presence in its entirety?
It seems to me that that is the true test of our character, just as it is the true test of our movement. To rise to an immediate and threatening challenge is something most of us will naturally do, it’s probably part of our nature as those who seek to uncover our potential and squeeze every drop out of it. But how well do we maintain those virtues, that inner strength, throughout the days when we are not engaged in such life-and-death moments? Do we still act with the same immediacy of thought? Do we still remember to use our fear and not be used by it? Do we carry that self-discipline and self-awareness we have in training on into the rest of our lives? If not, why not?
Parkour, like all great practices, is an art of living. It is not something you do for an hour or two and then forget or put aside. The point of these arts is that they reveal aspects of ourselves that we strive to hold onto, they uncover and polish something quite pure and bright within us: what a loss to then leave that shining thing on the training ground and live out the rest of one’s day in relative darkness.
Surely the point is, when we discover just what we can be, to then let that knowledge and that practise infuse all parts of our life, so that we can begin to take on more permanently that concentrated ‘us’ we find in our peak experiences. And that can only be done in the quiet stretches of our days, when nothing very special seems to be going on and our character is tested in more routine, but no less significant, ways. It can only be done in the spaces between.
Is “practising Parkour” the solution to feel free in your body and your mind? Or is this quest of happiness, this discovery, this blossoming that we all have been looking for since we did our first steps on this planet?
For me, “The When” and “The How” you start the journey in Parkour cannot be dictated by somebody else and/or just be justified by a series of actions such as balancing on a railing, vaulting some walls etc… In my opinion “parkour” is something personal. Yes, you share some moments, some actions, some feelings, some knowledge, some training, some obstacles etc… But your perceptions, your expectations, your discoveries, your willingness, your rhythm… are personal and internal.
I started playing a bit more with the environment only 7 years ago, however, “my parkour”, this quest for the well-being, this continuous discovery to become stronger, this value’s learning process, this respect for yourself and for the others and this understanding of being honest with yourself started 35 years ago, as soon as I was born. My parents, my education and my different experiences in art and different sport activities that I have been involved with, for the past 30 years, were and will always be my best guide, they are my foundations to my way of approaching obstacles. In my eyes, parkour (moving in any terrain) is just another physical activity, such as football, swimming, dance etc… where I can express myself in the environment in a certain way and where I can learn more about myself. My vision, my definition, my approach of “parkour” is not necessarily the same than everyone else’s. I don’t consider it as “a way of living” or as a particular “philosophy” but: does it mean that I am wrong? Does it mean that I cannot practise, learn, develop and teach some skills to move in the surrounding safely and more efficiently? Personally, I don’t practise any sport to please the expectations of others. The way I practice and see it satisfies me. I don’t want to copy the parkour journey of somebody else…
For me parkour is another tool, like everything we can use to learn and progress. Doesn’t matter the tool I use and the way I use it, when I teach somebody, my aim is not to make him/her become me, my aim is to help to discover his/her own potential and make all my students progress. Each person is a unique whole with his/her own emotions, feelings, visions, expectations, definitions etc… Some of them are capable to learn by themselves, by the environment, by discoveries, but others need to be guided, need to be managed, need to be shown, need to be explained. It shouldn’t matter which approach is used to improve how to move in this environment. It doesn’t matter when and how you experience parkour, important is to be able to adapt without any limits and find your own way. This is what makes me feel free and eager for practising more.
Expectations and goals should never be judged, as this is different for each individual. We all start practising parkour for different reasons and with different goals. I believe every judgement, would be in contradiction with the freedom and this capability to adapt that parkour offers.
Do you really know when your” Parkour journey” started? Do you know exactly this moment when you began this relationship with yourself, with the others, and with the environment, to be able to go through “obstacles”?
Is there a one and unique true parkour?
Est-ce que “faire du parkour” est la solution pour se sentir libre dans sa tête et dans son corps? Ou est ce cette quète du Bonheur, cette découverte et cet épanouissement que nous recherchons tous à partir du moment où nous faisons nos premiers pas sur cette planête?
Pour moi, “le Quand” et “le Comment” tu commences ce voyage dans le parkour ne peut pas être dicté par quelqu’un d’autre et ne peut être justifié par une simple série d’actions comme marcher en équilibre sur une barrière, franchir des murs etc…Mon opnion est que “Parkour” est quelque chose de personnel. Oui, tu partages des moments, des actions, des sentiments, des émotions, des connaissances, des entraînements, des obstacles etc…Mais tes attentes, tes découvertes, tes vouloirs, tes rythmes… sont personnel et interne.
J’ai commencé à jouer un peu plus avec l’environnement, il y a seulement 7 ans , cependant “mon parkour”, cette recherche de bien être, cette constante découverte de devenir plus fort, cette apprentissage des valeurs, ce respect vis a vis de soi et des autres et cette compréhension à être honnête avec soi-même, je l’ai commencé il y a 35 ans, lorsque je suis venu au monde. Mes parents, mes études, mes différentes activitées artistiques et sportives que j’ai pu pratiquer ces 30 dernières années ont été et seront toujours mes meilleurs guides. Ceux sont mes bases dans ma façon d’approcher les obstacles. A mes yeux , parkour(se mouvoir sur tous les terrains)n’ est juste qu’une autre activité physique dans laquelle je peux m’exprimer d’une certain façon et je peux apprendre un peu plus à mon sujet. Ma vision, ma définition et mon approche du “parkour” n’est pas forcément la même que tout le monde. Je ne le considère pas comme “une manière de vivre” ou comme une “philosophie particulière”, mais: est-ce que cela veut dire que j’ai tord? Est-ce que cela veut dire que je n’ai pas le droit d’apprendre, de développer et d’enseigner des compétences pour pouvoir bouger en sécurité et de manière plus efficace dans l’environnement? Personnellement, je ne fait pas du sport pour satisfaire les attentes des autres. La façon dont je le pratique et je le vois, me satisfait. Je n’ai pas envi de copier sur quelqu’un d’autre cette experience du parkour.
“Parkour” est pour moi un outil comme toutes les choses que l’on utitlise pour apprendre et progresser. Peut importe l’outil que j’utilise et la façon dont je l’utilise, lorsque j’enseigne à quelqu’un, mon but n’est pas de lui/la faire devenir moi, il est de l’aider à découvrir et à développer ses propres potentiels et de faire pogresser tous mes étudiants. Chaque individu est une entité à part entière avec ses propres émotions, sentiments, visions, attentes, définitions etc…Certains ont cette faculté à apprendre par eux même, par l’environnement et par leurs découvertes mais d’autres ont besoin d’être guidé, d’être dirigé, d’être montré, d’être expliqué. Cela ne devrait pas être important laquelle de ces approches est utilisée pour progresser. Ce que je comprends du parkour, quelqu’il soit “le comment” et “le quand” il a débuté pour chacun d’entre nous, c’est: la faculté à s’adapter, et ce, sans limites, “trouver sa propre voix”. C’est ce qui fait que je me sente libre et que je sois toujours demandeur pour en faire plus.
Les motifs et les buts ne devraient jamais être jugé sachant qu’ils sont propres à chacun d’entre nous. Nous commençons tous à faire du parkour pour différentes raisons et différent objectifs. Je pense qu’etablir un jugement est en contradiction avec cette liberté et cette faculté à s’adapter que le parkour nous offre.
Est-ce que vous pouvez vraiment définir ce moment où votre “voyage dans le parkour” a commencê, le moment exact où vous avez commencé cette relation avec vous-même, avec les autres, avec l’environnemnent pour être capable de surmonter les obstacles?
This was on the Parkour Generations blog. All credit goes to Dan Edwardes. —————————————————
The Tao of Parkour
Much has been made of Bruce Lee’s enduring concept of Jeet Kune Do, across myriad different activities, art-forms, sports and disciplines. Often it is applied quite wrongly, of course, flourished with bravado in a slapdash attempt to justify some sort of unstructured and unresearched approach to training or development. Nothing could be further from what Lee intended with his concept, or indeed more removed from his own path towards personal liberation.
However, a strong and meaningful analogy can be drawn between Lee’s concept and our own discipline of parkour (As always, I use the words parkour, freerunning and art du deplacement as interchangeable terms that describe the same base activity. For simplicity’s sake I will use the word parkour throughout this article). In fact, parkour is a prime example of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) in action. To explain this, it is necessary to define first what Lee meant by the term Jeet Kune Do and how he applied it to his own training.
Jeet Kune Do, despite the existence of many schools and clubs teaching to the contrary, is not a style. It is not a system, not a collection of techniques, nor even an amalgamation of effective movements from disparate martial arts. It is not boxing mixed with Wing Chun mixed with Muay Thai. It is certainly not the simple imitation of the movements of Lee himself.
Jeet Kune Do is simply the concept of functionality. It is the stripping away of anything that does not serve one’s purpose which, in Lee’s case, was to become the best and most complete fighting man he could be. Lee applied this concept ruthlessly to his own training, and recommended others do the same, so that one is left with only what actually works, only what is directly functional in the pursuit of one’s goal.
The Paradox of Freedom
This means, almost paradoxically, that Jeet Kune Do is at once extremely liberating and extremely rigid in its approach. Liberating because it has effectively only one rule – if it works, use it – and rigid in that it excludes anything that is extraneous to its singular purpose of producing an effective end product. Anything for show, anything ‘flowery’, anything that serves only to look good and boost the ego of the practitioner – instantly discarded. Jeet Kune Do is truly a ruthless guiding principle: which is what makes it so effective, of course. Its core can be found in Lee’s four guidelines, which were:
* Absorb what is useful
* Reject what is useless
* Research from your own experience
* Add what is specifically your own creation
Parkour is much the same. Not a collection of techniques or movements, not a restricting system or tradition-laden paradigm or dogmatic training methodology, not rules-based in any way other than one: if it works, use it.
Parkour, like JKD, is a concept one applies to one’s own training. It’s not even so much a way of thinking as it is a way of learning to think about one’s movement, learning how to train in order to reach one’s own self-established goals: a stark philosophy of facing the truth of where your ability is now and seeing exactly how and what you have to do in order to reach where you want to be.
Again, this means a form of liberation that does not equate to simply doing whatever you want. That was not at all what Lee intended with JKD, quite the opposite in fact. For him, the reality of combat defined his training – so he forced himself to stare that reality squarely in the face and see exactly what he had to do to master it, whether he liked it or not, whether he wanted to do it or not. It meant hard training, continuous research, intensive self-examination and critical analysis. It required enormous discipline and attention, and a supreme effort of will and clarity of focus. Lee realised that his liberation would be a product of a great deal of hard work.
In truth then, applying the fundamental principle of JKD – or parkour – is far harder than mastering any set syllabus of movements or techniques, or sticking to a collection of pre-defined rules. Harder precisely because it puts responsibility for one’s personal growth firmly and completely on the shoulders of the individual. But this is also what makes it – or them – so very empowering.
In parkour, as with JKD, there is no one and nothing else to blame for failing to find a solution to one’s own dilemmas. With enough commitment, drive and perseverance a way forward can always be found. If one had to identify one value as being the most central to parkour training one could confidently put forward that inner resolve, that refusal to quit or be beaten, as a strong contender.
With that mindset, the concept of JKD becomes an endlessly applicable and almost inevitably successful tool. Given time, a combination of good research, practice and review will usually lead you to the answers you seek in any chosen field. Now, of course that research and practice process can be made more or less efficient depending on a number of factors, including access to good information (through teaching, guidance, knowledge and experience of others, etc), sensible application of said information and rigorous self-discipline, but the vital component is the resolve to see the process through – the commitment to do whatever is necessary to realise one’s potential. This Lee prized above all, saying
‘Persistence, persistence, and persistence. The power can be created and maintained through daily practice – continuous effort.’
This fighting spirit, this indomitable, endlessly adaptive willpower, is the essence of both parkour and Jeet Kune Do. Capture it and one can achieve anything, for it bestows the only freedom that really matters – the ability to create yourself.
‘The void is that which stands right in the middle of this and that. The void is all-inclusive; having no opposite, there is nothing which it excludes or opposes. It is living void, because all forms come out of it, and whoever realises the void is filled with life and power and the love of all things’ – Bruce Lee, 1940-1973
Sometimes we need to go back to the beginning. The beginning when it all started, we we made the decision to be strong and useful. Parkour just being another tool, another way for us to interact with our bodies. For body and mind to become a ying yang, harmony with oneself. But as susceptible as I was when I discovered this movement I wanted to use this discipline as a money make, to become famous. I was fourteen then and I didn’t have the discipline then, but I had the drive. Though, my drive wasn’t enough. Years past and I’m now 20 and I finally have the drive and the discipline to learn, to find my true self as I continue my way, path, and purpose in life. I started training last year, but it was off and on, vault here or roll there. I wasn’t serious. It didn’t help that my mind was in a horrendous place at the time. Since February/March of this year, I have been diligently training, because there was a obstacle I wasn’t sure how or if I could overcome it. In February, something had happened, that I do not care to repeat on this blog. This ‘event’ caused me to have a huge mental block. I didn’t want to do anything but harm myself, by eating mostly. I had and still do have nightmares about this ‘event’ and that tries to cause me to eat massive amounts of food. After about a month of causing my body and mind harm I decided that being lazy and useless was stupid. That’s when my spark came back to train. This mental block battles me every second of every day. Though with my training I overcome it everyday.
I’ve realized in these past months more about myself than I have since I discovered parkour six years ago. It’s opened my eyes and has caused me to reflect back on the past years. Made me realize that parkour is my purpose, other than what God has planned out for me as well. Parkour is what I’ve been looking for, it’s my comfort food for my mind, body, and soul. It teaches me things that most people cannot teach me, about life, myself, just everything in general. Movement is what I’m about and promoting positivity, being healthy and fit, strong and useful.
Discovering oneself and reflecting on the past is what a part of parkour is about, at least to me it is. It’s about filling that part of your soul that was and has been missing for sometime now. So, fellow traceurs and traceuses, I say you should reflect back at your old self and look at your new self and realize, understand, that most of us are striving for the same thing. We have similar purposes for relflection, so do it. You will learn more about yourself, your true self.
The Sounds of Silence Bring You The Sounds of Science
Taken from APK. This was a post from Chris Seaton. I find that whenever he posts something I’m inspired. He is a great individual and even though I haven’t trained with him yet, he is definitely a great traceur. So I’d like to share this with everyone. ————————————————————- One topic that I’ve seen pop up frequently on the boards is “What’s good music to listen to while training?”
My favorite, oft-repeated response to these questions is simple: “None.”
If there is one aspect of my training I wish I could impart to all of you, it would be my love of the sound of silence while I train Parkour. Music has its place in what we do, but at the moment you open yourself up to the sounds of the world around you—even when there’s a lack of sound—you begin to learn things and grow in ways you never dreamed possible.
Let me begin by addressing one common objection to the idea of training in silence: “Music helps me go into my own little world and concentrate better.” I get that, folks, I really do. Sometimes we need to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world to concentrate on what we’re doing. The question I have in response to that, though, is this: does the music imbue concentration, or is it your own willpower that allows you a heightened sense of focus?
My thought is that it’s the latter. Here’s my reasoning. When you slip on a pair of headphones and turn on your favorite tunes—whatever genre it may be—you’re placing your brain in a position that inherently distracts it from whatever you’re doing. This is because the music pumping its way into your head is diverting part of your concentration to process the auditory signals it’s receiving from the beat. No matter what else you’re doing, the music will always be sitting there in a part of your brain, distracting you from a minute aspect of what movement you’re training, or taking away from your focus in an important setting. Those of you who find this helps their focus are actually concentrating harder because you’ve got a level of “background noise” interfering with your thought patterns. You find this necessary to continue with what you’re doing, and hey—as long as it works for you, that’s cool. Go with it.
There’s a reason I think this works for some people. We live in a society where quiet is almost anathema to our very being. Most of us get home and turn on the TV or radio for some sort of “background noise” the moment we cross the threshold. It’s instinctive. Without that form of noise things can seem “too quiet” and bother us to no degree. This isn’t as much of a problem for people who live in urban environments, I’ve noticed, since there’s always some form of noise polluting the air—be it sirens blaring from emergency service vehicles, the idiot in the low rider who just loves to share the latest gangsta rap bootleg, or the fat women fighting in their underwear in the middle of the street. Most of us learn to tune this sort of “noise” out, and focus only on one or two things that we find of interest. It’s the way our brains have adapted to deal with the information overload our society continually throws our way. When we train, though, allowing ourselves to “tune out” the world can do us a far greater disservice than a good.
For starters, there’s the fact that your hearing gives us a sense of perception around the world that we don’t have when it’s burdened by music. Planting iPod headphones firmly in your ears and turning up the volume means that you’re now immune to the sound of the car that could be coming your way, or the people running in the opposite direction backwards while typing a text message to their friends on a Blackberry. This sort of lack of perception can be hazardous to your health. If you can’t perceive the obstacles coming your way, you can’t react to them, and that can lead to injury. Your hearing is one of the senses that you’ve been blessed with—so USE IT! Let it give you information just as much as sight, taste, smell, and touch can provide.
Second—training without music can give you a chance to develop your hearing in greater detail than you can with music going. As an example, sit outside for a few minutes today. Shut your eyes, and listen to everything going on around you. Try to identify the sounds you hear, and do so in great detail. Is that a robin or a bluebird? Are the footsteps you hear those of a man in sneakers, or a woman in high heels? Is the car driving by really a car, or is it a service truck? I’d wager most of you can’t tell the differences in these sounds right away. Give it time, learn to listen carefully, and eventually you’ll find your perception heightened to ninja-levels of clarity.
Finally, training without music allows you to keep a greater sense of your own body. When you don’t have a driving beat going in your head at all times, you can focus on your breathing, your sense of touch, and how fast your heart’s going when you run. You’re able to look out for obstacles that provide for a test of your abilities and tackle them full force. Your balance will be greater…the benefits are endless, but the point is that you have to start listening to yourself as well as your environment!
So learn to love silence, my family. Make the quiet—and the ambient noise around you—a part of your training, and see yourself grow. You’ll find yourself better for the effort.