Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Parkour As a way of Life - ZENO

I have been doing a lot of thinking before, during and after my training and thinking why do I do Parkour and why I feel so passionate about it?

I started Parkour after seeing it on the TV (when I use to watch TV). I was impressed by the fluid movement, strength and power being executed. It reminded me also of when I was a kid, jumping wall gaps and climbing walls and trees, but on a more serious and higher level. So I browsed the internet looking for Parkour group in my area, and was happy to find Glasgow Parkour where I met up with local Traceurs and my journey began...

I knew it would take a long time and hard work to achieve a descent level of Parkour. And that I would have to be patient too, in letting my mind and body develop together.

The reasons I do Parkour are:
* Improve myself
* Positive inspiration
* Survival skill (help, chase and escape)
* Beat Stress
* To learn and to teach

Improve myself

A Traceur’s/Traceues’ journey is an infinite ascending and path. On this difficult path are many rewards (body, mind & spirit) with true greatness as well as hard times, much like life really.

It is good to move or reflect on your environment knowing you are competent of your abilities. And should you have a weakness, challenge it!!! Improve on it. I feel if you are strong in body and mind then you will be strong in spirit. Positive things happen to positive people.

Positive inspiration

I take inspiration from my Traceurs and Traceuses I train with. I take inspiration from Traceurs and Traceuses I have met, chatted to and watched videos of from all over the world. In return I like to give back that positive energy back, and keep a balance.

Survival skill
Parkour in its essence is a survival skill on whether to help, chase or escape. And therefore a Traceur/Traceuse should be always training, even when not training. What do I mean by that? Well I train most days of the week - I am out either practicing technical moves or body conditioning. However my Parkour training does not stop when I get home or go about other duties in life. I am always thinking about my movement and my surrounding environment. I could be in a restaurant or on a form of transport; I will be thinking and running over in my mind routes of escape or arrival.

It is always important to be always thinking about your movement (before, during and after), and when you become strong, skilled and useful you will no longer need to think, you will just know. On various occasions I have spent time teaching an individual the importance of landing quietly and correctly, only to watch them perform another move such as a cat leap, so happy they made the leap; they forget and land all loud and sloppy. Parkour should always be a state of mind so be aware of it and yourself at all times.

When I am in work, I will walk past the lift/elevator and take the stairs, and ascend or descend smooth and quiet, thinking of ways to take less steps or how I turn. Even when I am sitting down or resting, I will mentally go over a move, and see it in my mind, overcoming the obstacle. And when I mentally visualise I will incorporate my senses to make it all the more vivid, such as how the texture of obstacle would feel or the rhythm of my movement, what sound my hands and feet would make when in contact with my obstacle, and any smells such as foliage, sea air and certain obstacles just have a unique odour, which most of us do not even think about but we should. We should connect our senses to our movement and obstacles to increase our alertness and better our chances at survival.

Beat Stress
One of the beautiful aspects of Parkour is the ability to switch off your mind from everyday external problems, and just focus all your attention to the moment of your Parkour. Yes exercise in itself is a fantastic physical stress reliever but it is good to mentally escape too. It is magical to have fun and always be a kid at heart regardless of age, and strike the balance also in taking the discipline of Parkour seriously too. When your movement is of the highest purity and is just natural instinct, then you do not even have to think, you just know and move freely. That is the path of enlightenment.

Many Traceurs and Traceuses will agree that there is a strong connection between over coming obstacles in Parkour and obstacles in life. Parkour allows you to see your obstacle, analyse it, and provide the solution with the end product overcoming the obstacle. In obstacles in life you become more positive at handing stress and problems around you - you provide a solution and take that path.

The only frustrating aspect in Parkour is not conquering the obstacle; however there is an easy answer. You are not ready for it. You go back to your training, you mentally run over it in your mind. You practice, practice and more practice until you are both mentally and physically capable. You make that move and you over come that physical obstacle and that mental obstacle in your mind; you feel amazing, you feel proud and you grow from that experience. And if you have great training partners, then they are proud of you too. Likewise when I watch my fellow Traceurs over come an obstacle significant to them, I am happy and proud of them. Only then do you really begin to feel what proper training and pushing your abilities can do wonders for the body and mind.

To learn and to teach
There is always something to learn and master in Parkour. Your vision, environment and you as a practitioner evolve. It is important to put what you have learned into practice, in different environments and circumstances. Let’s say someone was chasing you. Yes you could do a turn vault, drop down, roll and run onto a cat leap, but what if one of your arms where broken or fractured? Can you vault or roll left and right side? Can you perform your movement using just one hand for example?

I enjoy teaching and even more learning. I am going to Rendezvous 2 next week in London to train with Dan, Forrest, Stephane and Johann Vigroux, The Yamakasi plus more of the best Traceurs and Traceuses there is. I am not going there to show off what I can do or just execute what I am comfortable with. I am going there to learn, train hard, absorb the positive energy and chat with like minded friends. And I know I will return grateful and continue my journey.

I feel it is important not to have a big ego, and think you know it all. It is important to remember that there is always something to learn, regardless of how good you think you are. It is equally important to teach well too, as one time you were a beginner and how grateful you were to have someone to teach and guide you, regardless of age, race or gender.

All that I have written above is why I am so passionate about, why it is a state of mind and a way of life for me.


Friday, 18 June 2010

Empowerment Through Failure - Chris Grant

'There is always something to train.'

This is an expression you will hear a lot from experienced traceurs it has a million different applications and facets which help traceurs to remain positive in times when they are struggling, maybe with weather, not being able to find spots, being short of time, or injury.

I want to talk a little about injury and a couple of other 'negative' aspects of our discipline and how we can turn these into contributions towards training and progress.

Failure, wether it be getting injured or just simply not performing a technique perfectly can be used to empower you and enhance your training. Every mistake or injury helps not only to highlight weaknesses in your training, but can also give you a new outlook and new perspective on how to approach training.
I think there's two sides to this -
1)Using your mistakes to look more thoroughly at techniques and their incremental stages.
2)Using your mistakes to divert attention to other areas of training.

Let's take two examples here -
Practicing rail precisions
When most people start Parkour at some point they will simply jump to a rail and see what happens. Chances are you will land middle of your feet at best and fall off, or miss your feet and get hurt. Hopefully you have been sensible enough to try the movement somewhere at ground level.
This mistake should help you to look at how to improve your technique and break it down.
For a rail precision you need to practice, the balance for the landing, the jump technique for accuracy, the jump distance, strength to take the impact and core strength to keep your balance.
This simple little mistake allows you to look at every aspect of the movement, and now you have a big list of things to train. Many positives come out of this one failure, instead of simply being annoyed at not being able to do something.

So when you are finally ready to get practicing these precisions, clearly you are not going to land perfectly every time, so how do you turn those imbalanced landings into something positive? Use these mistakes as a way to work on other aspects of your training.
Every time you dont land perfect, give yourself a conditioning forfeit, say 10 pushups. If you are practicing rail precisions and you find yourself coming off a lot and not having a good day with with it, at least you will come away having worked on your strength at the same time, again bringing a positive from your mistakes.

2nd example - recovering from injury.
Let's say you have an arm injury. Clearly there's not much upper body work or cat leap/vaulting movements you can work on. But is there anything wrong with your feet? or your legs?
For a lot of people injury is seen as a hinderance, but again you can use it as an excuse to divert to other aspects of training. Of course you cant work on anything dangerous which might involve you using your arm in a fall, but low level balance, small jumps and leg conditioning can become the main focus of your training. I think when you are ready to start fully training again after an injury your weaknesses should only be related to the injury. No excuse to have lost leg strength from an arm injury, in fact if you keep with this 'empowerment through failure' idea you should have stronger legs by the time your arm heals.
So, the other aspect of this is is your recovery goes on and you start to move again. It's important to remember that there are always endless solutions to any obstacle. You will have to start finding ways to get round using your arm, opening up many new techniques and forcing you to break down and rebuild techniques around the way that you now move as a result of your injury. Again, finding something positive from a previous failure.

Hopefully this gives you something to think about, what im trying to say overall is that you must use every 'negative' experience to progress - find a lesson in every failure and dont forget - there is always something to train!