The Power of Choice

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Written by Ben Webster
Published on Sunday, 19 July 2009

“I don’t need to move to progress. I could literally sit on the pavement the whole day and learn so much more in the day sitting on that pavement than if I was trying to fit as much as I could into my day. Because I realize that progression doesn’t come with time and practice, it comes with the moment of choice and belief in yourself really.” – Danny Illabaca

It is common practice to condition when preparing yourself for the rigors of parkour, but it seems that people only focus on physical conditioning. However, it is rarely that someone is held back by their physical ability, and more frequently than not it is their fear that holds them back. So what is the point of doing infinite sets of push-ups while we could be doing something more productive with our time? Why are we not focusing on mental conditioning in at least equal proportion to the physical? People like Danny Ilabaca and Philly Dee, who spend very little time conditioning, have reached astounding levels of ability in very short periods of time. Sure they are very fit, but are they really so much more fit than so many other traceurs in the world? No, there is not such a huge physical gap that they can reach levels thought unattainable by the typical human. Their ability comes largely from their mental training, things that they subconsciously do throughout the day. So why is our focus so much on push-ups and pull-ups when that isn’t what is holding us back? We are running a three-legged race but instead of training the weaker person, we are focusing on training the stronger of the two in hopes that he will drag the weaker person unwillingly across the finish line. I am not asking you to completely stop all physical training, because that would be about the worst idea possible for anyone looking to do parkour for more than a couple of years. All I want is for everyone to take one month and balance their training out. Spend as much time on the mental as the physical. I am certain that after one month your training habits will change. But how do we train mentally? The answer is simple; choice. Every jump that you do not do is an active decision by your brain to not do it. You choose to not try to balance on that rail that is eight feet off the ground. You choose to sit on your couch all day and watch television instead of attempting to improve yourself. So for one month I would like everyone to avoid saying, “I can do it physically but I am not ready mentally,” and instead intentionally test yourself. Find things on ground level that you wouldn’t think twice about doing and do them at height. I’m not saying to do a bunch of reckless things, but for once try to let your physical be what is holding you back instead of your mental. My biggest period of progress to date came for a month after about a week of training in hard rain, while still focusing on rail precisions. After finding that they were still simple, I gained much more faith in my ability and did many more things that I had been afraid to do for a while. Give it a shot, and post comments about any thoughts or progress.

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