This short entry is just to express some of my opinions on repetition.
2,400... That's how many repetitions it takes for a movement to become instinctual (according to experts who worked with the British SAS to determine how much training they needed in certain combat techniques).
Now this might not sound like too much hard work - most of you reading this are probably now pondering whether they have done over 2,400 cat passes, 2,400 arm jumps and 2,400 metres of balancing on a rail etc. But what we have to remember is that every single obstacle is slightly different.
Think of every cat pass you have ever done and I'll bet you cannot think of two that were absolutely identical. Take in to account the approach, the heights, the widths, the distances, the weather, the dust, the humidity, the cuts on your hands at the time, the lunch you had to affect your weight and it is very unlikely that you have ever done two identical cat passes on different obstacles (or even the same one!).
So these magical 2,400 repetitions suddenly seem not so simple to complete.
According to those experts' findings based on a LOT of research, an SAS soldier in training would have to repeat a particular knife attack technique 2,400 times before it was drilled in to them and an instinctual reaction. This couldn't be done in a day since this relies on the soldier being fresh and perfectly executing the techinque whilst under realistic training conditions and in the mindset of actually killing someone.
So to bring this to the interest of us, the traceurs, this would mean that just ONE movement on ONE obstacle would need to be repeated 2,400 times whilst you were fresh and completely focused, before that ONE movement on that ONE obstacle might be considered an instinctual movement!
This hammers home the point of repetition being key, something that we've all heard from Parkour veterans time and time again but perhaps we fail to fully comprehend the messages' magnitude.
I'm sure I've done over 2,400 repetitions of every type of pass that I practice but I honestly don't think I could say I've done that amount on one obstacle whilst I was fresh and fully focused in the mindset of doing it to save my life. In fact, I know I haven't.
So for anybody who thinks they have 'mastered' a particular technique, it might come as a surprise to hear this is almost impossible since it would require around 2,400 repetitions of the technique on every single obstacle, ever created plus every one being created every day... not to mention the maintenance of that perfection.
I believe a man could spend an entire lifetime training just one technique on one obstacle and never develop it to the level of every one being 100% perfect without exception. Which is why it's funny to read lists of techniques on forums that people have 'mastered' in their first month of Parkour.
But don't worry or become disheartened with never being able to perfect your favourite technique - strive towards perfection by all means - but just remember that you can only ever finish somewhere on the path towards perfection, never at the destination itself.
There is always room for improvement.