This is Your Life and it’s Ending One Minute at a Time.

Written by Anthony Nguyen
Published on Sunday, 11 October 2009

For many of us, this article won’t discuss anything new, but I just felt the need to write it in light of recent discussions and utterings.

Something that is sure to make me angry is someone’s expression of boredom. Don’t ever be bored, and if you ever find yourself there, don’t let me hear about it. Boredom seems to be something that just plagues up the lives of children and some teenagers.

It’s the cry of those whose lives are just overflowing with time. If you have so much time, lend it to Olegg, despite being Out of Time, he seems to be accomplishing a lot. Boredom doesn’t seem to be a problem that traceurs have too often, but I’d like to point it out before it happens. Here are some things to consider before EVER declaring you are bored.

There are more books out there than any single person could EVER read. At least some of them are excellent.

As is the case with books, there is much more information than any person could ever grasp fully. Just about all information is able to be applied one way or another.

There are many talents and skills out there to be mastered. Learn them, master them, market them.

34% percent of Americans are obese, are you one of them? If not, that’s one step. Sedentary lifestyle has rendered the rest of us to be weaklings. Health standards are disgustingly low. Be strong and healthy.

Sometimes we need a little bit of time to ourselves. Some of us need more of this than others. Take this time to get some rest in, some self reflection, or simply thinking about some ideas.

Go outside. Invest yourself in enjoying some simple things whether it be enjoying nature or flying kites.

Bond with your relatives, you only get one of each.

If you are ever bored, chances are, you don’t have a job. Go get one, if something doesn’t allow you to, look for volunteer possibilities within your neighborhood.

Boredom is for the socially, ideologically, and physically dull. Those who have boredom are also lacking in ambition. Those who are bored with what is immediately around them also lack the ability to appreciate the intrinsic values of things and are unable to find joy without something external. Don’t do it.

The case with most of us however, seems to be a shortage of time.

There are several who claim that they just don’t have any time throughout their whole day to do anything, all week. Perhaps, but probably not. There are many examples of people who have several preoccupations in their lives but continue to keep up with their physical health. Duncan Germain is a full time teacher who still comes out to condition Fridays as well as pursuing a vast number of hobbies, on top of completing a number of projects. One of the Bartendaz is currently in school, while holding two jobs, and he’s likely one of the biggest ones.

It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s that you’re spending it all wrong. Set priorities; know what HAS to be done, and what you do because you want or things of similar nature. Put it on a list and recognize that you have to finish certain things.

It doesn’t take 4 hours to do homework if you do it right. The IB program is supposed to provide hours of homework but I never work more than 2-3 hours on average. How? Most of the time, I do half my homework at night, usually the ones due earlier during the day, and during the school day I’ll get the second half done. This way I can get more me time in the afternoon.

There’s A LOT of free time during school that most people don’t take advantage of. Lunch breaks are a lot longer than they need to be, teachers often go on tangents or give breaks from their lectures, if you don’t drive to school then to and from school gives you time to study, the minutes before each class starts adds up, before and after school any day that you stay after/come in early. Taking advantage of all this time adds up and gives you at the very least 20 extra minutes in the afternoon.

It only takes 30 MINUTES get a good workout in, if you are doing it right. 30 minutes is very little, but if done everyday, it adds up to a lot. Get off of that Youtube if you know you have an essay due, stop playing those dumb video games, most television shows are just a waste of time, sleep is for losers.

Try this out, have a pencil and paper throughout the whole day, and record the time frame you take to do each activity. It doesn’t have to be super specific, but specific enough to give you an idea of what tasks you spend time on throughout the day. After having done so, identify some areas that you could spend less time on or combine with other tasks.

Everyone is given the same amount of time. Geniuses and prodigies gained their fame working under the same time constraints and under the stress of similar burdens we hold today. Complaining about time or boredom is dumb, stop it.

Advertisements

Are All Traceurs, Like, Communists or Something? lolololol

Written by Nick Faircloth
Published on Thursday, 01 October 2009

This is a topic I first started thinking about around the time Bao wrote his blog post entitled “Get Money, Get Paid.” That phrase struck me, as it seemed to me to contain everything that parkour is and should be- a wholly capitalist statement. Why, then, do the practitioners of the discipline seem to condone such an attitude of altruism in their social interactions, while promoting an opposite attitude of individualism in their personal endeavors? Does such a duality exist, or is it merely an illusion? This is my opinion on the matter after MUCH thought. Please note that this is basically my attempt to reconcile my two main philosophical beliefs, which before now had seemed to contradict each other: Capitalism and the parkour philosophy of “altruism,” which can essentially be boiled down to: “be strong to be useful.” If you’d like to point out flaws in my reasoning, please do. I have no doubt I’ve overlooked some things.

Altruism (from Latin: alter: the other) is the deliberate pursuit of the interests or welfare of others or the public interest.” – Wikipedia

The same article on altruism also had this to say: “altruism refers to behaviour by an individual that increases the fitness of another individual while decreasing the fitness of the actor.” In other words, doing something for another at one’s own expense. The concept of “altruism” is ostensibly advocated by many of the practitioners of the discipline of parkour, and is reflected in such activities as the Leave No Trace Initiative, community teaching events, and most recently, the One Giant Leap global climate change jam. These are certainly admirable pursuits, yet it may be disagreeable to some to give up their time for nothing in return. Why should I waste my time cleaning up at NCSU when I don’t even go to school there? Why should I bother asking the owner of a property for permission to train there, when I can do it without permission? Why should I show respect to a police officer, even when he is kicking me off the property I didn’t ask permission to train at? Why should I display respect, candor, courage, and all those other character traits Duncan immortalized in different forms of QM? The answer is this: you do receive something in return. As a traceur, you are a representative of the discipline to the public. What you are, is parkour. If you are respectful, courteous and willing to do things for the community, then you will win credibility for the discipline as a whole in the eyes of the public. Whereas, if you are disrespectful, careless in your training (prone to injury) and belligerent when dealing with authority, then soon the entire discipline will be viewed that way. We will not be allowed to train where we want, if at all, because of a few individuals who wanted the short-term benefits of practicing parkour without the long-term investment that comes with the title of traceur.

So, is what we are doing for the community truly altruism? I think it is not. We are (or will eventually be) getting the all-important benefit of public awareness and respect. This is a slow gain, and requires much effort. It is a difficult process, since in our society negative occurrences often receive more publicity than positive ones. One death will receive more press than the millions of hours of practice collectively put in by traceurs worldwide, even though it is the carelessness of dying while training which contradicts the philosophy of parkour. It is the disrespectful practitioner who will be remembered, although it is his attitude which runs contrary to the attitude of the discipline and the intentions of the founders. For this reason, the battle for our “place in the sun,” as it were, will be a long and hard one. But it will be worth it, and we will get our returns in the form of freedom to be able to openly practice our discipline. For that reason, what we are doing cannot be called altruism. It is a wholly capitalist system, and I am fine with that.

Capitalism is doing work and receiving 100% of the benefit (as an individual or as a group with common interests, for example, the parkour community). This is the ideal.

Altruism is doing the same work and receiving no benefit. This is pointless, and condones making no effort because you receive the same reward either way. My question is this: How can a discipline in which you are clearly responsible for your own growth (get money, get paid), be said to condone altruism? Is it possible that there is a contradiction in the philosophy of conditioning and training the body for parkour (work=gain), and in the actual application of the discipline (work=waste)? I think not. Such a thing must surely be the result of a gross oversight on the part of the practitioner, rather than the philosophy of the discipline as a whole.

Let me phrase this a different way: If we knew as a community that acceptance was impossible, that we would never be able to train as we wished, no matter what positive things we did, if we could be certain of this, would we bother? After all, that would be true altruism. I wouldn’t lift a finger. Why waste my time and receive no benefit for it? It simply doesn’t make sense.

I wrote this to clarify what altruism really is, since I have noticed the word being thrown around a lot lately. In my opinion, parkour does not condone altruism. It condones helping others for a reward. That reward can come in many forms- experience, satisfaction at saving the life of another (how cool would that be?), public recognition of the legitimacy of the discipline- yet the same underlying concept is there: action begets reaction. This is more than a physical law, to me it is a moral precept. However, the reward cannot be something which has no value or meaning to the practice of parkour. As Duncan and Herbertiste have pointed out in their treatise on the negative effects of competition, money, fame, recognition, trophies, medals, glory or any other abstract measure of popularity used only to feed the ego are not proper rewards. Parkour has no ego, and that is why capitalism works for the system. True capitalism, like parkour, consists only of hard work and gain. Traceurs are like businesses: A good traceur has invested a lot of time and work for every small gain, and one who takes shortcuts or does not function at his full potential is sure to fall behind. A traceur who performs tasks for others without asking himself “why?” and without learning from each new experience of helping others has not done a useful thing- he is doing the task because he has been told to, and not because he has learned from or thought about the teachings of our practice. The only thing that promotes is the helplessness of the individual he was drawn to assist in the first place.

One last point: I consider capitalism in the marketplace to be competition in the same sense that an individual’s progress in parkour is a competition: an internal one. It is true that many businesses undertake certain strategies to undermine others (wal-mart for instance), yet in my opinion the best businesses are those that do well by maintaining excellence internally, without bothering about what other businesses are doing. Modern-day business practices have given capitalism somewhat of a bad name, but in essence there are few people who can be said to wholly endorse the ideals of capitalism as a belief system.

Choices

Written by Regina Spangler
Published on Sunday, 20 September 2009

Every second of every day we make choices. Your moods, your behavior, your words, your motions, your emotions, every move your body makes, every thought you have, etc…. all CHOICES

Getting out of bed or sleeping until noon…

Eating a healthy breakfast or grabbing a fat-filled donut…

Going to work/school or playing hooky…

Studying and trying your best or slacking off playing video games…

Following the rules or breaking them…

Swearing or using a vocabulary… Smiling or frowning…

Being open-minded or closed-minded… Being respectful or disrespectful…

Knowledge or ignorance…

Being selfish or practicing altruism…

Taking a risk or knowing your limits…

Making fun of the kid that everyone else is making fun of or be kind to him…

Homophobia or acceptance…

Being positive or being a grumpy Gus…

Working out or watching TV…

Dependent or independent…

Taking initiative or sitting back and watching others get the job done…

Honest or dishonest…

Working on the OAC or chatting on AIM…

Working towards your goals or complaining because you haven’t reached them…

CHOICES. CHOICES. CHOICES. Like I tell the children/teens that I work with, “You choose you.” You choose your behaviors. You do that for yourself. No one can tell you what to do or who to be. So I ask you: What kind of person are you? What kind of person are you CHOOSING to be?

Quality and Efficiency

Written by Daniel Hines
Published on Saturday, 19 September 2009

“So what I’m saying, actually, you see, it’s a combination of both. I mean here is natural instinct and here is control. You are to combine the two in harmony. If you have one to the extreme, you’ll be very unscientific. If you have another to the extreme, you become, all of a sudden, a mechanical man, no longer a human being. So it is a successful combination of both, so therefore, it’s not pure naturalness or unnaturalness. The ideal is unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness.” – Bruce Lee

How can I move quickly and efficiently? This is the question that makes up a traceurs training. Humans are especially designed for some movements, such as running. Running is the fastest and most efficient means of movement, so one might say that moving quickly and efficiently is limited to running, but we are capable of so much more. No single movement pattern ensured our survival as a species. Rather, it is our ability to adapt to our environment that allowed us to succeed. Thus, we have the ability to do an almost infinite variety of movements, including walking, climbing, swimming, jumping, even dancing. Even though we weren’t designed to do any of those movements, we can still do them with grace and efficiency (quality of movement). Even more amazing is our ability to improvise movements to meet a situation, allowing full adaptation to any situation. This brings us to the quote from the beginning. As a traceur, you could have “pure naturalness”, and run like hell away from something, doing whatever your instincts told you. Or you could have pure “unnaturalness,” doing only techniques you’ve practiced a thousand times, in the exact way you’ve practiced them. As usual in life, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The ultimate goal is integrate your instincts and your intellect, so when you want to do a movement, even if you’ve never done it before, nothing holds you back.

The realization of the integration of instincts and intellect (since when did I become so fluent in gibberish?) results in quality of movement and efficiency. Quality of movement is very different from efficiency, but I believe the two are intrinsically linked. Quality of movement is an unquantifiable effect of bringing greater knowledge to one’s movement. The result is beautiful, though quality of movement is more than looking pretty. Efficiency, on the other hand, is very quantifiable. I’ll even be so bold as to say that efficiency can be expressed in an equation: Speed/energy used. Simply put, A movement is more efficient if it increases your speed while maintaining your energy usage, or decreases your energy usage while maintaining your speed. Applying the principles of movement will, however, make your movements faster and use less energy, and thus, improving your quality of movement will make you more efficient, and vice versa.

Efficiency and quality of movement branch into every part of parkour. David Belle and I could do the same vault, over the same obstacle, and I guarantee his will faster use less energy, and be far more beautiful. Why is that? From a physiological perspective, I think it comes down to two specific adaptations: changes in the muscles and joints, but more importantly, localization. Perhaps you remember from my previous post, but localization (which is basically a synonym for coordination) is when the right neurons fire at the right time. Localization means that there’s no excess muscle tension, he only uses enough power to just barely make it over the obstacle, and the timing is perfect. Because less neurons are firing and less muscles are contracting, less energy is used, and, naturally, without all the excess tension, Belle can move faster. Localization is a huge factor in quality of movement, but it is not the only one (some speculate there are an infinite number of factors). Quality of movement is much more subtle, but I think in the end is a much more worthy goal than pure speed or endurance.

How does one improve their quality of movement/efficiency? This is a very difficult question, as the answer will be very different for different people, but I believe the key is observation and attention. Observing one’s own movement and the movement of others, as well just being aware of yourself and the world around you is essential. This is almost crossing the border into philosophy, but I have noticed that generally, focusing on the movements themselves will bring greater results than focusing solely on the goal. For example, I could make the observation that keeping your center of gravity closer to the ground improves efficiency. This kind of observation focuses on the external (which is very typical of the western world. However, I could also make the broader, more internal observation that one should never try to resist force, and from this, we could infer that one should not resist gravity any more than they have to (by keeping their center low), but there are also many other implications, such as the proper way to land is not to resist the force of impact but to let it flow through you.

As talked about in a thread on the forum, the principles of movement are universal, and, thus, if you learn something in one discipline, you can probably apply it to parkour. Physics, biomechanics, physiology, psychology, economics, etc. all can teach us something about ourselves and our movement. We can learn from each of these fields, and our parkour will be that much better because of it.

This just scratches the surface, but I hope it gets you thinking about you can improve your movement. If your interested in quality of movement, I recommend reading this thread (http://forum.idoportal.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=36).

Good training guys, and never forget to be aware.

A Traceur’s Fast

Written by Anthony Nguyen
Published on Monday, 14 September 2009

Whenever people ask me if I do parkour, I’m not really sure what to tell them. Not because of the fact that they used the word wrong, but because I don’t do movement. When people ask me how long I’ve been doing parkour, instead of saying I’ve trained it for nearly two years, I say I’ve been on the scene for nearly two years. Silly right? Actually, it’s dumb. How can I even try to accept someone else calling me a traceur, when I can’t honestly do it myself?

I never move because I’m afraid. Afraid of being hurt, afraid of making a fool out of myself, afraid of being sloppy, afraid of being wrong, afraid of overshooting, afraid of slipping, falling, failing. And this same mindset continued to plague my training for nearly two years. As a result, most of my training was restricted to conditioning. Pushes, Pulls, Pistols, Dips, these were movements I could safely turn to train without ever having to risk anything. I saw myself progress alongside those around me in terms of conditioning, but in regards to movement, everyone surpassed me.

I turned to essays, videos, pictures, articles; hoping that it would convince me that there was nothing to be afraid of. I heard countless tales about how people overcame things, or how they put fear aside. Using visualization, imagining something on the other side, countdowns, and more. Still, nothing happened.

I talked to others, everyone seemed to have answers and explanations, but I still couldn’t bring myself to do anything. For everyone 1000 words, and 10 videos, I still only did one or two movements, generally they were movements I had already done. Everyone had a solution, but each solution I heard was specifically melded for their own specific problems, and as such, it was inapplicable to my own.

My problem was that I didn’t want it enough. Movement was seen as a subcategory of conditioning, when in truth, it’s closer to the opposite. I wanted to train parkour, and the movements were something I wanted to be able to do and learn. My will to overcome each challenge was weaker than the fear that came with them. And while this was something I realized for quite some time, I was unable to face it, constantly convinced of my physical inadequacy.

Yesterday, during the beautiful weather, I went out and took a rare initiative towards movement. It happened because my want to move overpowered my fear of it. None of the movements were big, some dynos, some strides, rail balance, vaults. It’s the movement and attempt that matters though. Most of it was a laughable distance easily done by others, but I suppose I have to start somewhere. I’m in no way implying that I have found the solution to all my fears and will be able to take on any challenge in the future. I’m quite slow to change. Change is the key though, and hopefully this is where it starts.

Just Say No to Competition

Written by Nick Faircloth
Published on Thursday, 10 September 2009

Parkour is a discipline which esteems a high degree of personal responsibility. When it comes down to the jump, only the individual can conquer his fears and go for it. Only the individual can decide on his own success or failure. In this sense, parkour is a highly pragmatic discipline, in which an individual’s beliefs directly influence his performance. If you believe you cannot succeed, you have already failed.

So?

Parkour is directly applicable to life. In effect, being more pragmatic with regard to parkour makes one more responsible for his own actions in everyday life. If every person felt more personal responsibility, perhaps our society wouldn’t be what it is today in terms of issues of legality. This is why it is so vital to our discipline for it to expand, and to expand in a proper way. If it expands improperly and becomes filled with those who are interested only in showing off and do not take the discipline (and themselves) seriously, we as a community will be doomed to a bad reputation and a lack of freedom to better ourselves through parkour.

Originally, this was supposed to be a post about competition, but I felt it necessary to explain exactly why competition is detrimental to the practice of parkour. Competition is dangerous enough on a personal level- we know that it can lead to specialization in only the skills necessary to win, resulting in injury. We know that it places emphasis on arbitrary goals that matter for nothing. I would like to emphasize this: if you are training parkour for a medal or for recognition, you should not be training parkour at all.

However, what is often forgotten is the effect competition is likely to have on our community as a whole. It glamorizes the discipline, emphasizing only the flashy “tricks,” and none of the discipline that goes into them. Yeah, and? The point is, competition will attract those individuals looking for a quick thrill. And, as Ben has stated, it takes no skill whatsoever to simply jump off a building. Someone WILL be injured. When that happens, will it be easy to defend parkour as a non-competitive discipline which doesn’t condone such crazy stunts? No. Not when the winner of the 2007 Red Bull freerunning competition, Ryan Doyle, broke his leg while competing. Not when American Parkour just signed a deal to create a televised parkour and freerunning competition league*. No. In the eyes of the public, parkour and its practitioners will be seen as supportive of competition, and that support will be translated into irresponsibility with regard to the boy who jumped off the roof of his apartment complex and died.

Is this our fault as practitioners? 8Yes and no. To an extent, we are responsible for how we are perceived by the public. It is our duty to spread awareness of our ideals so that we are not persecuted by the public at large, which is distrustful of what it does no understand. However, we are not responsible for the actions of American Parkour or other organizations that exist for profit. 8Would you like to know what really makes me angry about this? I assume you would, since you’re still reading.

It is the fact that APK has completely ignored and disrespected the opinions of every traceur who is against competition, but then asks for our help so they can “do it right.” There is no way to do it right. We have already offered our advice as to the proper way to handle competition, and they have ignored it. Why do they need our help now? I say we remain silent and offer them nothing to show them that we do not support their decision. If we make an example of them, perhaps they will understand what is wrong with competition after it blows up in their faces. Please understand that I have nothing against the individual members of the tribe or APK. It is only that the organization as a whole is driven solely for profit and not by respect for the disciplines, contrary to what they claim.

With that said, I am boycotting American Parkour. I no longer visit the site, and I have vowed never again to purchase their products, to show that I do not support their organization and what it stands for. I cannot describe to you how upset and even betrayed I feel that APK would so blatantly disregard the philosophy of a discipline which it has claimed to defend. I feel that the promise of money and fame has corrupted what was previously a wholly respectable community. 8I apologize if I have struck any nerves. I wouldn’t ask anyone to blindly agree with what I have to say. As always, I welcome your opinions and questions, as I certainly don’t know everything. This is how I feel. I set out to write a blog post, and this is what came out. To tell the truth, this has been on my mind for weeks, and I’m glad I have finally been able to get it off my chest. Thank you for listening. I appreciate all of you for who you are and what you mean to this community. Peace and Love.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Written by Ben Webster
Published on Tuesday, 08 September 2009

It is with increasing frequency that we get newcomers to the forum who have questions about only one thing, drops. We frequently hear from beginners, “Well I was training this 13 foot drop and afterward I felt this sharp pain in my (insert body part here). It went away afterwards, so I went back to training drops.” So after hearing this story over and over again with generally the same outcomes, I have decided to put an organized response to drops.

STOP. Let’s think about this for a few moments. Why do you want to train drops so badly? You will most likely get several different responses to this question, but in 99% of cases the psychology of it is, “Wow I just saw the new Danny Ilabaca video. He did so many things that I can’t possibly do in my current condition. Oh wait, I can take that fall, since that requires no skill what so ever, and that way I will look as cool as Danny since I can do one of his moves.” First of all, after flow drops are one of the most technical movements in parkour. There is literally no room for error. So why do people seem to think that one of the most technical moves can be safely done by someone who has just started? It baffles the guys who have been around for a while. So first, let’s set some ground rules:

  1. If you are under the age of 16, then you should never do drops over shoulder height. This is because you are still an adolescent, and thus since your tibia and growth plate have not completely fused, any high amount of shock can very easily cause permanent injury, causing arthritis and other knee problems resulting in partial or full loss of mobility later on in life (we are talking 30 to 40 here). Do you want to need a cane or wheelchair when you are in your mid-thirties?
  2. If you have been training for less than a year, you should never do drops above head height. This is for many different reasons. Firstly, NO ONE in their first year has good enough technique to successfully handle drops consistently with little to no error on the landing. This comes from muscle memory, not from watching a five minute video and a roll tutorial. Secondly, most people coming in to parkour do not have the muscular strength of David Belle or Danny Ilabaca. Since absorbing shock takes much more strength than any other activity in parkour, why would you attempt it if you aren’t strong enough to do, let’s say 15 pistols on each leg? Finally (for this list, the list goes on and on), beginners have NO SKELETAL STRENGTH. This is the most important point of all. Every time you do a jump, you get small hairline fractures in the joints and bones affected. These then heal, with the bone replacing it being stronger than it was before. Over several years, bones can become much more dense, leading to less general wear and tear to the joints permitting people to deal with higher impact forces. If you have been training less than a year, then you have not received anywhere near the amount of training to do drops over your head height.
  3. Roll on every drop that is over head height, and if you can’t roll then you can’t drop. Again by roll we don’t mean that you watched a couple of roll tutorials and kind of have the basics down. The roll should be the first movement learned and will most likely take at least a year to master. If you think that your roll is perfect and you have only been working on it for a couple of weeks, I would suggest that you either reevaluate your definition of perfect or find another activity to participate in. Questions that you need to ask yourself are, “Can I roll on both sides?” “Can I perform a back and side roll?” “Can I roll with absolutely no pain aside from skin damage on concrete?” “Can I roll after a running jump from waist height at max running speed effectively?” “Can I roll without the use of my arms in case there is something that I need to carry?” “Can I dive roll over something that is waist high?” Again the list goes on and if you answered no to any of these questions then you still have a lot of work to do on your rolls. Get to it.
  4. If you haven’t been conditioning your legs on a regular basis, then you shouldn’t do drops over shoulder height. What can I say about conditioning…. Oh wait, you don’t do it enough, get to training. Again 15 pistols in one set should be a minimum before you do drops over head height, as well as sets of over 100 shin raises and 50 single-leg full weight calf raises. If you can’t do that then I guess you are going to have to lower yourself down until you can.
  5. Warm up. Everything is pointless if your body has not gone over short term preparation before doing drops. Stretching, light jogging, and small to medium size jumps work well for warm ups. This goes under the category of injury prevention, and while you may think that it isn’t important now, when you have that knee or ankle injury you will wish that you did it.

So I have laid out some basic guidelines here for drops. Follow them carefully. Drops can and should be trained, but certain steps need to be taken before you take the fall.

Nearly Halfway There

dkyzdwz

Written by Anthony Nguyen
Published on Tuesday, 25 August 2009

What makes winners winners, is the fact that they want it more than any of the others. Given, there are a few exceptions where some are at the dis/advantage, the former is generally the case. When you find that something is difficult, ask yourself this question: Do I want this? If the answer is no, then either your heart or your body is in the wrong place. Reconsider and make changes until you are in the right place. If the answer is yes, then press on. This is why Bao and I sometimes yell “For the OAC!” at one another. Not that we dislike what we currently are doing, but rather, we use the object we want as an extra source of inspiration. Any feat is possible, if you truly want it.

Tonight, I wanted many pistols. Not the fiream; I’m talking about some quad crushing action. 6 pm finds me outside, on the deck. Here I start, looking to the light rain to soothe my beginnings.

I make with speed, pumping out pistols easily and efficiently. I find myself lost in thought, admiring the weather, and at other times, eyeballing my new 3 pound companion. I press on. Nearing 50, the rain gets heavy, and my journal on which I am keeping count begins to get soaked. I head to the front of my house for some decent cover. It takes me a bit to be settled in an area I feel comfortable.

I’m in the garage now, and I begin, again. After a good number, I find myself in a type of rhythm. The rain starts again as I near 80. I realize after 160 total reps, that I am still unsure of the origin of the name. Nonetheless I press on. At 100, the rain begins to settle down again, and I see the first few people ever since I’ve started. This is both discouraging and encouraging. While the rainy weather was something I preferred for it caused most people to retreat inside; it’s comforting to know that other people are at discomfort as well.

In attempt to repress my sadistic desires, I press on. 125, nearly halfway there. I pause and chuckle. “Nearly halfway there” has never been and likely never will be a motivating phrase. But why would I need a motivational line when I have just started? I tell myself, if I need anymore motivation aside from accomplishing these pistols, then I likely don’t deserve them. I pause and consider how long it has taken me, and begin estimating how long it will take. I restrain myself from completing this task, easily done, considering I had taken the precaution to isolate myself from any instruments for keeping time.

The rain has stopped for some time now, but it begins again as I reach 150, as if the skies were celebrating my small victory. A light rain covers the rest of my pistols. It must be time warping rain, as the rest of my pistols go down nicely, if you will. Every now and then I pause and shake out my legs, as they begin to feel strange, not a pain, but simply a confused sensation. I’ve developed a bounce in my step, sinking further down with each step. At one point during rest, I find that I accidentally walked into a kneeling position.

At 250, many distractions attack. I catch a whiff of mother’s fried rice. I notice a new sensation in my tendons; they feel as though they might explode. I push on, deciding to top it off at 300. And although the inspiration is strong, the pistols seem to be slower than ever. 1..2..3……4……5 1..2…..3…4……5, or 1..1..2..2..3..3.. and so on. I find that pistols usually seem endless, regardless of what reps or sets you decide to split them into. This doesn’t matter though, because anything is achievable given a strong enough want, and endless time, both of which I possess tonight.

Finally, I hit 300. Able to finally rest, I head inside, where luxury awaits me.

Why Everyone Should Master: Juggling

Written by Daniel Hines
Published on Sunday, 16 August 2009

Why everyone should master: Juggling

‘Cuz it’s totally awesome. Duh. But seriously, while muscular strength and endurance are factors in parkour performance, neurological coordination (the ability for the right neurons to fire at the right time) is the most important aspect of the physiological side of parkour (or anything). Coordination at the neurological level is reflected by efficiency of movement. For example, David Belle expends less energy doing a precision (or any technique) than your backyard free runner, even though David Belle is a lot stronger (there are several reasons for this, but this blog is about parkour, not sports science, so I’ll spare you the lecture) Coordination is responsible for what we call “flow.” Good coordination also allows one to perfect techniques faster.

Coordination is expressed in seven abilities (according to the Science of Sports Training by Thomas Kurz):

  1. Kinesthetic differentiation (e.g throwing objects precise distances, landing different precisions)
  2. Spatial orientation (Perception of body in space, “air sense,” judging the distance of a precision)
  3. Reaction to signals (Exploding out of the starting block on the whistle, “hmmm, I should roll now”
  4. Balance …well, yeah
  5. Synchronization of movements in time (Rubbing your stomach and patting your head)
  6. Sense of rhythm (Juggling to a metronome, taking the right number of steps for a vault or jump)
  7. Movement adequacy (Choosing the right techniques for the situation in the most efficient manner, very important for parkour)

Unfortunately, most of us have missed the age at which coordination can be maximized, which, for most of these abilities, is around 8-10 years old. But don’t worry, coordination is definitely still trainable, and should be developed like any other ability.

One beautiful thing about coordination is that it’s not nearly as specific as other abilities (speed, endurance, etc.). For instance, a sprinter might suck at swimming (as speed is movement specific), but a baseball player might learn juggling really quickly (as coordination is not as specific). Thus, to improve your coordination, you can start with movements that don’t resemble parkour at all, but that hone the basic abilities listed above (eventually, like most things in training, you’ll want to get more specific by first incorporating skills necessary for parkour, then using actual parkour techniques).

Another neat thing about coordination is that learning new skills improves coordination, and coordination improves the rate at which you learn new skills. As such, when training general coordination, you want to change what kind of skill you’re working on fairly frequently, aiming for general proficiency, not perfection.

To develop coordination there’s a generally a progression in difficulty through the speed and conditions the activity is performed with. For example, one might learn how to shoot a free throw, taking all the time in the world to make sure they get it every time. Then, the might practice free throws as fast as they can. Next, they might practice free throws with another person blocking them. In this way, you can continually progress with a skill by making the conditions harder.

The chapter on coordination mentions various simple activities to improve general coordination, such as jumping rope, performing asynchronous exercises like punching with one hand and swinging another, playing acrobatic Frisbee on a trampoline (ok it didn’t really say that, but wouldn’t that be cool?!?). These are just a few, and all of them would work (be creative; the sky is the limit, unless you have a rocket), but what caught my attention and what I’m going to share with you today is juggling.

Juggling is such an interesting skill. It requires you not only to know where your hands are at any given moment, but your brain has to process throwing one object with precision, predicting the parabola of another object, and catching another object while preparing to throw it again, all at the same time, while adjusting for errors in real time. And that’s only 3 balls. Imagine more.

That’s another plus to juggling. It’s cyclic, and is relatively easy to imagine. One thing that separates ok athletes from elite athletes is “blind spots” in their technique. If a technique looks sloppy at a certain phase every time, it’s likely that the athlete isn’t really in total control during that portion of the technique. And what they’ll find is that if they try to vividly imagine everything that happens during that technique (body position, spatial position, sights, sounds, sensations, etc.) the part that they mess up on will be fuzzy, unclear, or lacking detail. When you start juggling, imagining where all three balls and both hands are at the same time (a necessary part of learning) is like an introduction to getting rid of the blind spots. As you get better, this skill will get easier, and eventually, you should be able to vividly imagine every technique you know, parkour or otherwise. If you can’t, there’s something wrong with your technique, and you should go back and make sure you really know and can do every thing you need to correctly perform the technique. This has really helped me with my martial arts techniques and basic break-falling.

So, now down to business. Get yourself 3 objects you think you can juggle. I started out with square beanbags. Hacky sacks would work nicely. Any thing would work; use your imagination.

Next, watch this video. Just watch it. Then watch it again, but pause it periodically so you can do what it says.

That video should talk you through everything you need to know. All the basics and fundamental techniques are there. After a month or 2 of working at it (and not very hard, mind you), I can now get 300+ continuous throws and catches with the 3-balls, and 50+ catches juggling 2 with 1 hand (I followed the video’s progression until about 20, and then I found I could get 50 catches, then a week later 100, 150, and so on). I have noticed that when my brother throws things at me, I’m more likely to catch it, which I will be so bold as to attribute to my juggling progress.

When you’ve mastered juggling 3 balls, you have several choices. You can apply the concepts of coordination from the first half of the post by making the act of juggling three balls more difficult, by, for example, juggle while running forwards, sideways, or backwards, juggle while hopping, or bouncing on a trampoline (very difficult, very fun). Juggle objects of different weights and sizes, juggling while traversing obstacles or doing basic tumbling/acrobatics, etc, (be creative). Or you could just pronounce the juggling skill done, and move onto other activities in your quest for coordination. Or, if you enjoy juggling like I do, you could continue juggling by learning all the variations of 2, 3, 4 balls and beyond.

So that sums it up. You now know a little about coordination, how to develop it, and how to juggle, should you so desire. Work smart, work hard, and in the words of Bao, get paid. But most of all enjoy your training, because that’s what it’s all about in the end.

Footwork in Training

Written by Nick Faircloth
Published on Thursday, 13 August 2009

Because our feet and legs are further away from our eyes than our hands are, we often forget to pay attention to them. However, in parkour our feet are at least as important as our hands (if not more so). They are in charge of our landings, our takeoffs, and everything in between the individual movements in a given run. It is extremely important to be aware of what is happening in the lower half of your body at all times

Next time you’re training, pick a line (high walls won’t work for this) and run through it using only your legs. Do it until you get it perfect. Rinse and repeat. If you train like this often, you will begin to see a marked improvement in your judgment of distances and foot-eye coordination.

Personally, one of my favorite movements in parkour is the stride. Generally this consists of moving on top of obstacles a set distance apart in a running/jumping motion. This is different than a series of static jumps in that you put only one foot on each obstacle in succession for the sake of speed. It is also different than a single jump with a run-up because you have to conserve your momentum in such a way that you can continue the run indefinitely. This requires coordination and balance. The best part is, you can do these almost anywhere. Use the lines on the sidewalk, in an empty parking lot, etc. Then, when you are confident, try it at a height. You can make it even harder by striding on a series of obstacles that vary in height and distance apart.

Ultimately, this exercise provides benefits to all your parkour transitions and run-ups. And while you may not be able to directly practice getting up a high wall with only your feet, the stride is a very similar motion to the last few steps of a run-up to a wall climb.

Happy training 🙂