Sunday, August 31, 2008

Origins

On the 10th of September 2008, I will have been practicing Parkour for five years. It seems like just yesterday I watched Jump London and I can still remember my first training session the day after. It is as fresh in my mind today as it was back then and I can almost smell the freshly cut grass that I dropped and rolled on to from the roof of a gymnastics club near my house...

It had taken seventeen years for me to find something that finally ticked all of my boxes. At the time I had been practicing shotokan karate for four years and although I did enjoy it, there was always something missing - I would go to the classes because I felt like I had to become stronger and learn how to look after myself and the people I cared about... but couldn't help feeling unsatisfied. Competition never interested me, scoring points was not important and katas seemed redundant. I'm very thankful for everything I was taught by Mr Weatherby, my sensei and teacher, but I don't think karate was my calling.

In Parkour I had found something that looked so fresh and exciting, something that was entirely non-competitive, an activity that was so simple to begin, but impossible to perfect... something that would challenge me but give me a freedom that martial arts could not.
I think those are the qualities that attract most people to Parkour in the beginning - they see the spectacular jumps, the smooth combinations and the seemingly impossible becoming not just possible, but simple, to these men and women who don't seem too different to themselves.

This honeymoon period is one of excitement, fun and a feeling that they are recapturing a part of their childhood, playing and exploring and meeting some great new friends. But there comes a time, not too long after this honeymoon period where suddenly they realise just what it would take to truly excel in Parkour. Because behind the veil of nice jumps and quiet landings of the more experienced traceurs, is a person who has invested considerable time, dedication and effort to reach the level they are at.

I've seen a lot of people come and go over the years - some have turned up once or twice, others for a month or two and a few for a couple of years, before deciding they didn't want to continue with their training. Parkour is not for everyone, it takes a certain type of person to prevail through the hard times and come out the other end of them, ready for more.

Everyone enjoys that honeymoon period and it lasts for different amounts of time for different people, but afterwards they are all faced with asking themselves if they really want to sacrifice as much as they will have to, to reach a really good level. Although I was attracted to Parkour for the reasons I mentioned earlier, it is not the reason I continued to train, day after day, week after week. My honeymoon period ended and my reason for training changed quite quickly.

Growing up I was a very active child and obsessed with action films, I would watch Schwarzenegger, Van Damme and Jackie Chan films over and over and what was obvious to me was that these guys were the heroes because they were strong and capable of looking after themselves, their families and their friends... they were honorouble and prepared physically for whatever the baddies could throw at them.
That stayed with me as I grew up and I became interested in many different sports, martial arts... anything physical that would help me to become stronger but I didn't really know to what end.

It wasn't until I found Parkour that I understood the importance of training your mind, as well as your body. Without a strong mind and a will to act and use your physical capacities, then we are useless. What use is having big, strong arms if you are too scared to enter that burning building to carry someone you love to safety? That's an extreme example but highlights the need to train your mind along with your body.

So when I found Parkour and understood this massive hole in my preperation to be 'strong', I never looked back. I face my fears and doubts and push myself to do jumps and movements that scare me because I want to have the physical and mental strength to face my fears and doubts in an emergency situation, should one ever arise around me. That is the reason I train today and what keeps me motivated and willing to go out in the rain, alone, in the dark, to push myself in difficult conditions.
There are no medals to be won, no trophies will ever sit on my shelf with my name engraved on the base and my family and friends may never fully understand why I do, what I do - and I am fine with that. Knowing that I am more capable of looking after the people I care about than I was yesterday, is enough for me.

So those are my origins in Parkour... my reasons for starting, my reasons for continuing and the reason I will continue to do what I do for as long as I can. Five years sounds like a long time, but I have so far to go and I can become so much more than I am, so much more useful.

I can't imagine what the next five years has in store for me but if it's half as good as the first five, I'll be a happy man.

I edited a video from all of the footage I have captured to look back on in time to come, if you would like to see it then I've included it below.



Download available here, thanks to Andeh.

-Blane

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi B!
It's always nice to see stuff from you... need to say I really enjoyed watching the video and I could see some new clips mixed up with some older ones. I guess you are going to have a happy and busy 5th aniversary... and I guess you have been too busy these last days... but anyway.. hope we could have a chat soon or at least hope to receive some news from you.I sent you some mails but have'nt received any news... so I undestrand you are very busy at the moment

Peace
Ixek

Guigué said...

I admire you a lot, because after 5 years you still train the real parkour, without addind inefficient and purely aesthetic movements.
This text synthesizes perfectly the idea I have about parkour, and your words about the physical and mental strength are perfect.
Congratulations, from Brasil

Rachacuca said...

Bro, i have no say to this....

The text is amazing, the video is amazing.
Youtube need to figure out a way to let people rate more than five stars to videos like this.

Everytime you post everyone can feel how strongly passionate you're about the discipline.

It's all very inspiring. Thanks, traceur.

The homeymoon of The Dark Knight. Hans Zimmer, always.

Take care, man.

Bruno Rachacuca.

christian_lesche said...

its nice when you are near to give up and then that rainy day becames the best training you ever had,
at the end of that day you can't move one single muscle and you know it worth, or just by balancing on a rail you feel like you won the day

i'm in my second year and i hope so i keep on for as long as can

keep it up man! (sorry for the bad english) =P

Zack said...

All of that is so great to hear, I've been training for almost a year now and can only hope that my passion perseveres along with my mind and body.

I'd go as far as to say you're my biggest inspiration thus far. Congratulations on 5 years =).

-Zack Boulder, Co

Tez said...

Blane, you talk like you're at the start of your training, but you really arn't. I know that you wan't to get stronger and everything and i understand that but you don't seem to realize how skilled you already are. I'm not saying your almost finished your training, and that soon you won't be able to get better because as everyone knows thats imposible! I'm just saying i wan't you to realize your level you are at now.

You know how many people look up to you, you know how many people come to you for advice, you must know that you are basicly one of the best traceurs in the world (i know you'd say you arn't, because your a modist bastard haha). I know for a fact that you would run into that burning building, and i know it wouldn't need to be somebody you love, or even know. I'm sure that if it was to save somebodies life you would safrifice your ability to continue training, as you would know it was worth it, training those 5 long years for that moment to save that person, even if it meant the loss of a limb, or even your own life.

I've seen people say that you're better then David, i know for a fact you would say you're no where near his level, that your miles behind him, but you're standing there next to him! Open your eyes man! If your still at the start of your training then i'd love to see what a pro can do!!!!

Amazing video by the way, i reconised a few of the new clips from the photos you sent me =D

Tez

Kalebe Ps said...

Blane, you are inspiring. The way you think makes who you are.
Just want say that you are not only growing alone, youre making more and more people to see like you and train hard for the same reasons.

Congratulations from Florianópolis - Brasil.

duddu said...

I couldn't thank you enough.

People like you carry parkour on your own arms. Definitly, a "positive force".

And in a world where ambition and selfishness are in lead, it's a pleasure for all the world be inspired by your example.

Cheers from Brazil.

Mike Christie said...

Blane

Five years!? Well done mate. (Now I feel old).

Mike Christie

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love your work. Something, I mean this as an offering, not a critic. We all speak about being strong, and being useful. What I love to see is how these words, become more than just words, how they become action. Every day, people are dieing, are growing old, are ignoring the suffering they put eachother through. Every little bit, every little thought, something as simple as riding a bike in and out of work, or walking in and out of work instead of being another one of those billions of people putting poison gas into the air.

I find that often, when we buy something, when we work for something, we are doing the opposite of getting, or allowing ourselves to be it in the first place. So by training to save lives, we are only training, we have to actually do. Sometimes, our training is killing, sometimes by buying, we are away from the ones we love, and helping no one.

Sorry to waffle on, I'm sure you realise what I am typing already, as I see it every time I read your work, as I see your videos.

Michael said...

I didn't now that you have a martial arts background. You practiced karate and still practice judo. I love judo and its philoshophy (judo is more than the competition judo you see in tv) and I think don't think about stopping my judo training. My motivation was the same: I wanted to become strong. I thought that life would be easier, if I am strong.

Like in your case something was missing and when I heared about parkour in a (really bad) tv documentation I knew that this what I searched.

But just now my honeymoon period ended. In know, that I have to sacrifice a lot, if i want to develop my skill. My worst problem is to beat the lazyness. But everyday I do parkour I feel such an emptyness.

You show me what I can reach and that I am not alone.

Minh said...

Hey Blane,

Another great text written by you.
'In Parkour I had found something that looked so fresh and exciting, something that was entirely non-competitive, an activity that was so simple to begin, but impossible to perfect...' - so true.. I love this. As you already said, anyone can start practicing Parkour, but not anyone can do Parkour. Many people want to progress as quick as possible. And in the beginning the progress so quickly, but after a certain time the progress process takes much longer. You need to offer more time to become better and stronger. I hope that people will understand that Parkour is a long way to go. Your reason to keep on training is simple. 'Be strong to be useful.'

I really enjoy reading you blogs and watching your videos. You´re a big inspiration to me. You are probably The One I am looking up to most.


best wishes, Minh

gabriel said...

Inspiring, Exciting and Beautiful. Your vision to parkour is one of the most solid i've ever seen.

congratulations, cheers, best wishes, but in fact, thanks from Brasil.

Robert said...

Every time i read one of your texts, I want to train harder and longer.
I want to be stronger and i want to be useful. Your text is very emotional, i have completly different thoughts and my views on my trainings changes.
You are a huge inspiration and someday i want to visit you, just for training ;)

thanks from germany
robert

Jean said...

Hey Blane.. I have sent you an email last week, let me know if you've changed your address or anything..

cheers!

Jean

Anonymous said...

Blane - best traceur! Thank, you!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Chris! Your video - very cool)))

Anonymous said...

Hello, Chris. I write with a faraway Ukraine. Sorry for the bad English. I admire you - as a traceur. Your video and make your article to reflect and reconsider many things. Thank you great. Present a little bit - I am a beginner - a problem that was injured and now I can not deal with - quite a time. I understand that you traceur, and not a writer - but your words are very important for me - you could write, how to be how to live - when you have injuries and you have to forget about training - how not to stop at the product and look forward with hope at best, on the recovery and to further their victory. I think with an issue facing many and many will be interested to read and learn for themselves. Thank you for your earlier)

maddocmax said...

Hi Blane,

5 years...
Maybe a short time, maybe a long time. But a great deal of experience for you...

enviable :). But I have enough time, to make my own... :)

Its great, what you have accompished.

And I just want to say:

Thank you!

I started my training 15 month ago. Your Blog was and is a very nice inspiration for me. That does not mean, that I want to be like you or that I'm training like you. I think everyone has to go his own way, so do I. But it's very interesting to see and read your trainingplans, our ideas and your progress. Everything I'm reading and seeing starts my brain working. Everything what I'm thinking about forms parts of my mind and character.

I hope you understand, what I mean. Sry, my english is not so good. Its hard for me to write in english, what I'm thinking in german...

One question, if you could turn the time backwards... what would you do better?


I think, every experience a human makes, is a part of this person. If I could change one moment of the past, who knows who I am after this...

I wish you all the best for the next years.

I'm planing a UK-trip. Maybe/I hope next year. Cable invites me to London. After London, I will take my tent and want to visit more Tracers. Would be nice to meet you, if you like.

Tyson said...

Hey Blane,

Apparently I don't have your email. Check it out, Attack of the Show featured our blogs and did a rather excellent job! http://tysoncecka.com/archive/attack-of-the-show-viewers

T.Ru Monkey said...

I was on my pairs and watched ur blog from the cellphone. When i saw that uve got a new vid...i ran to the nearest i-net cafe adn watched it...i thougth its gonna be something new, but i was a bit upset...))) but now i just happy for u...omg now its 5 years...i wish u to do parkour more and more...thx for all uve done not only for me...ur vids and ur way to do parkour changed everything in my parkour...thnak u))

DuDeK said...

hey Blane

congrats for a half decade of training and fun time. This post was really good in the fact that you were so opened to us.

The phrase " ...an activity that is simple to begin, but impossible to perfect" really shocked me, because it is so true.

Again congratulations and keep shinning us with brilliant post.

DuDeK

KUYEM said...

u've made parkour look better than freerun

Christopher said...

Thank you. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey B!

just a little something to say hello! hope you are great.. .regards from mexico (from Urban Runners and I)

Hope to receive news from you my friend :)

Ixek

Victor said...

I think most traceurs share the same feelings about Parkour. You describe it flawlessly by regarding to it as a fresh and exciting activity that gives us complete freedom. I could not agree with you more. I feel it is something that is almost impossible not to fall in love with. I think most people do love it in the beginning but only half of them stick with it in the long run for several reasons. One of the main reasons may be that people lack the patience to know their limits and/or the will to keep going, which are, by far, the most valuable attributes of a practitioner of Parkour. You can be horribly unhealthy at the beginning, but if you have the desire, discipline, and patience to do it, the rewards are endless.

I guess people’s reasons vary on why they continue to practice Parkour. In your case, it is to have the ability to help others in need as well as to have the physical and mental strength to overcome your doubts and fears. For me, it is also a mixture of many things. Partly, Parkour helps me to overcome obstacles that I face in life with my family, friends, etc. Also, I strongly believe in the Greek ethic: a sound mind, within a sound body. Without one, it is impossible to reach your full potential in the other. Additionally, I think of Parkour as a form of meditation because when I do it I focus on nothing else except for the obstacles that lay ahead of me. This discipline is something that I am very passionate about and thankful that it was given a name so that we can openly discuss it.

Anyways, nice fluidity and strength in your video. You’re definitely right…PINWC, and your power and control is amazing to see. The video is even better after reading your inspirational words. Thanks a lot Blane.


- Victor Florez

Matías Haedo said...

You are my new idol/master/model/god

I realised when y saw the old man scene, happens to me so many times xD