March 18, 2013 in , Parkour by Adam Dunlap
In the past I’ve written about how Parkour has changed in today’s generation in comparison to when it was founded. Inspired by some of the questions that came out of those postings (Parkour PURE vs Parkour FUN being the most prominent) I thought I would explain specifically the ideas that I don’t feel are understood by today’s Parkour community. The lack of presence of these ideas are what I believe has led to the new perspective and paradigm of Parkour and its practice.
Before I explain these ideas, I’d like to preface my analysis with two things:
a) I don’t think these ideas can be fully communicated in one article. This will be a good start, but it won’t be complete.
b) Please note that I’m not claiming my analysis and conclusions to be the definitive answers. I am also not attacking anyone for their varying views on Parkour, the method, or how it should be passed down, taught, or practiced. This article is simply my view based on the extensive amount of time I’ve spent with David Belle over the past two years.
So now the ideas. There are four of them. Buckle up if you plan to keep reading because these ideas may very well change how you look at Parkour:
#1. Parkour is not about techniques. In fact, you can forget them. All of them. There are about 7 or 8 techniques that are vital to know and great to practice (there are more if you count and classify them differently), but when it all boils down, techniques don’t matter except as a testament to the refinement that David reached in creating a new discipline and bringing all the movements together.
#2. The main method of Parkour (remember Parkour is a training method) is what I call “doing parkours.” It’s basically really, really long obstacles courses with a Parkour twist. I believe this is an absolute centerpiece to the Parkour method, but I have never seen anyone besides myself make these a centerpiece of their training or teaching. At best, most Traceurs approach courses as an add-on or they consider 2, 3, or 4 moves to be a good course. Sorry, but that’s not it
#3. Parkour is not about doing Parkour for your whole life. The philosophy of Parkour is as much about ceasing to practice as it is to continue. The idea is that Parkour is supposed to lead to a point in your life where you know your abilities, you have reached a level you can maintain, and you are completely confident with yourself and what you can do at any moment. At that point you’ve graduated so to speak, and unless you choose to continue out of joy, there is no longer any reason to do Parkour. That’s the philosophy anyway.
#4. There is a warrior spirit side to the discipline of Parkour that is as essential to the art as kicking and punching is to Karate. Without the warrior spirit, Parkour is not the same. People in the Parkour world think they understand this warrior spirit, but very, very few actually do. This is completely understandable because, first, the warrior spirit is hard to find on a personal level; second David has never shown this spirit publicly and no other good model has never been presented to the Parkour world; and third the spirit takes a certain approach and mindset which most people don’t have the resiliency to attain even when they know the path to it. The result today is that the warrior spirit has almost all but been forgotten in the context of Parkour.
Bringing those four concepts together create a Parkour that is completely different from anything we see taught or expressed in the Parkour world today. I see small glimpses of it from time to time, but I’ve never seen it all brought together except in my own training sessions. If you don’t believe that those ideas change Parkour that much then break them down to their simplest forms and see what comes of it. Here, I’ll help you:
- Forget the techniques
- Change your training style to be focused on parkours
- Practice Parkour with the mentality that you have to do it only for two years. (note: your training will have to be really intensive).
- Train like a warrior. I don’t mean do kong vaults till your chest is soar and laches until your hands rips. I mean push yourself to the limit physically and mentally until you feel like you’re going to break. And then keep going.
Does that sound like Parkour to you? It sounds like Parkour to me, but it’s clearly not the Parkour we see being preached around the world. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I’m just explaining things for those that want to know.
In conclusions I’ll share my favorite Parkour video of all time. In my opinion this video shows better than any other the true and original Parkour spirit and method.