Friday, January 09, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions

Quite often I receive emails asking questions about Parkour or my training and I wish I had as much time to answer them all as I used to.
It's becoming harder to keep up with them as this blog grows and I get less free time so I've had to think of some kind of alternative that I hope will take care of some of the more frequently asked questions. All of the following questions are ones I've been asked recently in emails or private messages and a couple I've added from older messages that I thought might be interesting to talk about.
I'll update this as necessary and if there is anything you'd like me to add then feel free to mention it. There will be a link on the right hand menu to the FAQ too, to make it easier to navigate to as more posts are added.


+Who are you?
My name is Chris Rowat, I was born in 1986 and I’ve been practicing Parkour since 2003.


+What is this blog all about?
This blog is a way for me to record and share my experiences in Parkour. It started off as a personal way for me to log my progress and to keep a few friends up to date with what I was doing and gradually grew to include articles and other things that I hope might help other people with their training. I plan to expand it further to include more useful content as time goes by.


+What is Parkour and why do you do it?
Parkour is a method of training your mind and body to quickly find ways of overcoming physical obstacles in a safe and efficient manner. The skills learned through the discipline can then be put to use in a range of circumstances, from aiding you in simple daily tasks to the more extreme possibilities of needing to escape from danger or reach and rescue someone in need of help. It is a pursuit to become strong in every sense of the word in order for the individual to become more useful to themselves and the people around them.
We are each given an amazing tool that is the human body and can choose to do with it whatever we wish but I feel an overwhelming obligation to use mine to better the lives of the people I care about and I feel this can best be achieved by practicing Parkour.


+What did you do before Parkour?
I used to play various team sports such as football and basketball and generally enjoyed being active. I began training in Shotokan Karate at about 13 years of age because I wanted to learn how to defend myself and I continued this for four years before stopping to dedicate more time to Parkour.


+How did you discover Parkour and when did you begin training?
My first experience of Parkour was seeing the BBC advert known as Rush Hour, featuring David Belle. It immediately sparked my interest but at the time I had limited Internet access and couldn't find any further information about it or what this athlete was doing. I later read a short article about Parkour in a magazine and it gave the impression that this was something that only a few people could do. Knowing I had no way of going to France to see these guys and learn something, I forgot about it. I later saw a trailer for a documentary called Jump London and realised that this was the same thing I had seen before. I watched the documentary and knew that this is what I had been searching for through my years of sports and martial arts. I believed that this might be something I could do after all, so began my training the next day.


+What are your personal training goals?
My long term physical goal is simply to continue on the same path of increasing my strength and to improve my technical skills. But for me, the mental aspect is something that I find more interesting than the physical. Will is everything and with the right mindset I feel I can achieve anything, even things that at first might seem impossible. I feel there is no point in having a strong body if I haven't trained my mind to use it to its potential. If I'm too scared to act in a dangerous situation then all of my physical training will be useless so I try to continually challenge my mind and do things that scare me.


+How do you approach physical training and conditioning?
My goal with physical training is to increase my strength, speed, power, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and flexibility. I try to be intelligent in my approach. I choose exercises that will have a direct positive impact on my ability to move and supplementary exercises to maintain muscular balance, prevent injury and protect my body.
Regular training of your entire body will help to strengthen and protect all of the muscles, joints and bones from the impacts and stresses found in Parkour. My physical preparation and maintenance amounts to over half of my total time spent training.


+Is weight training suitable for Parkour?
Yes!


+How do you stay motivated to train through difficult times?
When I’m tired or when it’s wet and cold outside, or if I have other things on my mind, training can sometimes seem less appealing. At times like this I remind myself of my goals and think about the other people in my life that might need me to be stronger than I am right now. This train of thought alone drives me to go outside and improve regardless of what the circumstances are.
If you constantly ask yourself why you are training and answer them honestly, you can prioritise it appropriately and dedicate the necessary amount of time to it.


+How has Parkour affected other areas of your life?
Parkour has had a huge influence in shaping who I am and my life today. It has made me a healthier, more confident person and introduced me to many great people, some of whom have since become my closest friends. The travelling, the camaraderie and the feeling of being part of something positive is rewarding and it’s a really exciting thing to be a part of.
There is another side to the story though.
Parkour demands a lot of you and you quickly begin to realise just what you would need to sacrifice to reach a good level. It begins to affect everything in your life from your diet, to how much free time you have, your relationships with your family and friends and like anything worthwhile it takes a huge amount of time, hard work and dedication to excel in.
I carry the calloused hands of a coalminer twice my age and live with almost constant muscular pain from some part of my body healing from a training session. The blood lost over the years would feed a small nation of vampires and I spend a lot of time explaining that bruise, this scar, or some hole in my leg. When I think about everything I’ve given so far and look ahead at what I’m going to need to do to get to where I want to be, it’s not a pretty outlook, but one that is worthwhile, rewarding and a LOT of fun at times. The good points outweigh the bad!


+Does Parkour help you to deal with problems in other areas of your life?
Yes, when you think about some of the obstacles you’ve overcome and the process you used to do that, you begin to treat other problems in the same way. They are no longer met with panic or dread - you just begin to look for ways to overcome them. You think of how you managed to bring yourself to jump so far from a wobbling wet rail to a far off branch and realise that this problem in comparison is not so bad at all. If you stop and think about it, break it down and analyse it rationally, you can come up with a solution to this too and move past it in a similar way.


+Does your training change in the winter?
Yes. Not so much my methods but there are additional things that become important in the winter. I spend more time warming up, double check any surfaces I'm working with for moisture or ice and since it's darker I know my depth perception will be altered and I need to compensate for that. I don't have an interest in training in gyms, even when it gets cold, wet or generally unpleasant outside. There is always a way to train and in the winter, even the smallest, simplest things are suddenly great challenges for you to face. Use it to your advantage, realise that if you can do this jump now when it is so difficult, you will learn more than if you wait until it's easy.
Sometimes I think that I would prefer to live somewhere where the weather is hot and dry for most of the year but the truth is I don't. Parkour is a discipline that revolves around facing obstacles and finding ways to overcome them and I can think of no greater obstacle than a harsh winter!


+Who or what inspires you?
I'm inspired by a variety of sources and can relate to a lot of other athletes, disciplines and sports. Even a short sentence I read or hear can spark my imagination and help to fuel a training session. Music can be inspiring and interviews or advice from professional sportsmen often give me ideas.
In Parkour, I'm inspired by other practitioners, particularly the original French traceurs who I thank for their hard work and dedication throughout the years, without their efforts I wouldn't be doing what I do today.
Less experienced practitioners often inspire me too, anyone who shows a lot of passion for what they do and works hard to achieve their goals has my immediate admiration and respect.


+What advice would you give to someone wanting to improve their Parkour?

Regardless of what level you are at, the two main pieces of advice I would give to anyone wanting to improve their Parkour is:
  1. Avoid injuries.
  2. Find something difficult and repeat it until it is easy.
They sound simple but can be expanded on. To avoid injuries, you need to be careful and focused at all times, know your limits, condition your body to protect yourself and listen to your body when it needs to stop and rest.
Finding something difficult and repeating it until it's easy applies to almost everything. Whether it's a new jump that is on your limit or a certain number of pushup repetitions, confront what you find difficult and work on it until you find it easy. Then find something new! This ensures you're always pushing yourself to improve at everything and should help you to avoid plateaus. Once anything becomes easy then it's time to find a new challenge to stop your training becoming stale and boring.
There are no shortcuts I’m afraid, just keep training hard and try to improve a little each time you go outside and the rest will take care of itself.


+Why do you make videos?
I enjoy making videos and sharing ideas with people. It was video that inspired me to begin training so I value the power of that and if someone sees a video of mine and likes it then they might want to find out more or tell their friends about it. Either way I hope it helps the growth of Parkour and if other people make videos too then we can all share ideas, training locations and methods.


+Why do you not practice flips or acrobatics?
I’d rather spend my time training other things. These things look good and seem like fun but I’m not doing this to impress people. I have a goal of learning how to move as safely, efficiently and as quickly as possible over obstacles and to me, acrobatics just add unnecessary dangers to that.
I have every respect for people who train really hard and practice acrobatics but to me it’s a completely different activity.
In the same way that a lion wouldn’t consider adding any unnecessary flair or danger to crossing a fast-flowing river, I try to find challenging jumps, obstacles and routes that force me to face my fears and push my limits using just the most basic of techniques.


+What is your opinion on the differences between Parkour, Freerunning, L’art du deplacement and the politics that are so often argued over?
I try not to get involved with or think about these things too often. They all stemmed from the same place, the same people and essentially they are all very similar, with slightly different ideas behind them depending on who you ask.
I know what it is that I want to do now and have my own goals and ways of getting there, so whether someone else calls that Parkour, Freerunning or L’art du deplacement is not important to me. I personally train in a way that I believe is very close to what Parkour was intended to be when it was developed, and yes, I call it Parkour, but the name is not important to me, only that I continue towards my goals.
The real issue I have problems with is when people do reckless things that can then influence other people to think that is what it is we all do. We do not do stunts, daredevil jumps or jackass pranks and that is not Parkour.

-Blane

31 comments:

Slimmy said...

Thank you alot Chris for your blog that's really useful for many tracers. Best wishes!

KUYEM said...

thanx chris,
cheers from malaysia,
http://www.pkmy.tk/

Mikhail "Holod" Golikov said...

I agree with Slimmy! Yhanks a lot! good answers!

mrKaizen said...

Interesting. I agree with most of it.

But no one asked you if you live with your parents and what do they think about all your pk thing?

Curious.. so I'm asking you ;)

n0k1 said...

I guessed, you would make such a thing;) I smiled a little bit when I saw a question "+What is your opinion on the differences between Parkour, Freerunning, L’art du deplacement and the politics that are so often argued over?" )) In my opinion Parkour, Freerunning and L'art du deplacement are the same things...the idea is the same...the start is moving. It joins all of us. But, i think, there is a small diffference - the way to move. I used to think that acrobatics 'n' flips belong to freerunning, and Parkour doesn't consist of any of it - no acrobatics, no flips. My opinion could be wrong, but it ain't important to me. I only have my goals I try to achieve. And what i do, I call Parkour...)
So, I agree with you, Chris;)

-n0k1

Richard said...

Would you consider yourself as doing Parkour or L’art du deplacement.

The tree work you do is in no way efficient movement, and would only be used in L’art du deplacement OR as a conditioning exercise. Which do you think you do.

n0k1 said...

quotes from the FAQ:

"I know what it is that I want to do now and have my own goals and ways of getting there"
"I personally train in a way that I believe is very close to what Parkour was intended to be when it was developed, and yes, I call it Parkour, but the name is not important to me, only that I continue towards my goals."

I think, it is the answer to your question, Richard:) Keep trainin'

-n0k1

Anonymous said...

Great post chris.

Can I ask a quick question though?

What do you think of the work of Urban Freeflow and in particular, Ez?

There seems to be alot of disagreement here and I wondered if you had anythoughts on this.

Tom said...

First of all great post. Some really great thoughts that have helped me already.
But a quick question: What do you think of the work of Urban Freeflow and in particular, Ez.
This seems to be a topic of disagreement and wondered if you had any thoughts.

willy irawan (will22k@yahoo.com) said...

what an explanation..thanks a lot..you are one of our role model in practicing parkour..

i have a little stories about parkour in indonesia :
let me introduce my self, im willy from indonesia, born in 1983, i just practising parkour for 2 months now. but a lot of people already practicing parkour for couple a years by themselves.
parkour is getting bigger in Indonesia, and we just learn from videos,yours, TK 17, and all others, but it will be great if you ever come to our Country and gave us some insight personally 'bout Parkour :).

so if you ever come to our little country, feel free to contact me.
thank you chris,
keep on flowing,
keep on posting..
your blog is one of our inspiration.
go parkour..


greets

willy

Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

mrKaizen, At the moment I do live with my parents. In the beginning they didn't want me to practice Parkour because they thought it was dangerous and a bit stupid... but now they understand how dedicated I am to it and realise I know what I'm doing, so they are supportive.

Richard, a lot of the training I do is supplementary to benefit my ability to move efficiently. I find specialised training like the tree stuff you mentioned is a good way to develop strength, endurance, spatial awareness and technical ability. The skills developed can then be of use when you are actually trying to escape or reach something.

Tom, I'd consider a couple of the guys from UF to be friends of mine so there's no bad blood between us on the whole. Although I find their business methods, approach, morals and teaching standards to be questionable at times, they have brought a lot of worldwide attention to Parkour and the other practices so there are two sides to the coin.
Good luck to them, if nothing else they've built a highly successful business from the ground up that seems to be doing well, I just wouldn't recommend them to anyone.

Willy, thanks for the invite! If I ever find myself heading to Indonesia I'd love to meet up, or if you find yourself in England then send me a message. Keep training hard out there and good luck developing the community.

*B*

Rachacuca said...

Hey Blane,
everything cool?

Great post, man.
I'm very happy for you because of the numbers of new visitors on your blog.

This site helped me a lot in my early years and continue to help me at this time. So I'm glad newcomers can find a very reliable source coming in here.

Props to you, my friend.

Plus, i got a question too. A long time ago, you posted about your strength routine and supplementation. I'm wondering how your supplementation is going right now. Are you still adept to whey-protein and how does it affects you organism?

Thanks in advance.

Train hard and take care,
Cheers from Brazil.

B.Rachacuca.

Quelso said...

Thanks for the FAQ, Blane!

It's very nice to read a FAQ, declaration, Q&A or what ever you call it, coming from a traceur.

Keep going, it will very usefull for my work and my project.

Greetings!
Quelso.

Alex said...

Heya Blane, I am astounded by your commitment and your knowledge as well as your skill all the time. Although I take a lot of inspiration from other people and other concepts, I can honestly say that reading your blog and hearing your thoughts have been accountable for over half of my inspiration for training. So thank you.
I've been keeping up with your blog for about a year now and never commented, so I thought I would. I live near Ipswich but I used to live in Kirby! I'm planning on coming up to see old friends in half term and would love the oppurtunity to train with you or just get a hint of where you'd suggest going. I realise your incredibly busy so I won't be upset if you don't reply :)
But still, thank you for everything. You are truly incredible.
Alex Stockley

Jessica Toni Artti said...

Hello! I didn't know your blog, but I'm really happy that you do this: explain everything in details for the people. It's very useful and important for the new traceurs...
I live in Brazil, a country where the weather is hot the most part of the year... Our winter is not so harsh as yours...
I read that you wouldn't like to make things easier for you, but if want to know our obstacles and trainings, you're welcome...

Please, forgive me for the grammatical mistakes... And keep on your progress!

Kisses, so long.

PS.: If you want to say something to me, please, comment the posts in my blog... I always forget which post I posted my comment.

Anonymous said...

Lol.....I was reading the part where you said you'd prefer a harsh, cold winter to challenge you. I recommend living in the Middle East, where I live, it's either too hot or too cold! I find it really challenging for my training

Northern said...

I also have a question, regarding the bit about weight training:
While I understand your view on it and you do make sense from parkour perspective, have you ever thought about doing weight training for the sake of being able to handle weights?
After all, in life the ability to move different objects is quite often needed.

I might be stepping on methode naturelle territory here, but since you give a lot of thought to the connection between training and real life situations I wondered if you had thought of weight training from this point of view.

Bradley Moss. said...

Good stuff dude, definatly with you on what you are saying :-)

Dave P said...

Hi Chris thanks for posting these answers very insightful and motivating. I have one question however you said that you have a weighted vest. Obviously this helps with pull up and push up workouts but what other movements and excersies do you do with the vest. I have heard that doing explosive movements like precisions and going on runs with a weighted vest is bad for joints, but maybe its not.

Boštjan said...

Blane,

you're clearly retarded. You don't have any idea what you're talking about when you start babbeling about physical conditioning.

Saying that heavy squats might not have an effect on your jumping is just fucking stupid. It doesn't really matter what you feel. Check out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GZv0wWnYb0&feature=rec-HM-rev-rn

The guy can squat over 220 kg.

"I train abs/core/lower back ..."

O rly? CORE = ABS, LOWER BACK AND POSTERIOR CHAIN.

You can't really train core successfully with rope and a 10 kg vest.

Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

Hey Bruno, all is well thanks... how are you? I watched your video with the muscle up and pushup challenge set by our good friend Thomas, it was great! Congratulations. ;)
As for as supplements go I take glucosamine sulphate, cod liver oil and a multivitamin every day and it seems to help.
I still use whey protein to make protein shakes, especially after training or throughout the day if I haven't had any good sources of protein.

As long as you don't go crazy with it then I feel it's a great way to ensure you're getting enough protein to help your muscles recover!

Alex, thanks for the message. When are planning on coming up this way? I'm moving to London on the 16th of February so unless you're coming up before then, it's unlikely I'm going to be there!
Saying that, I'd love to meet up and train so let me know when you are likely to be going there and I'll see if I'm around. Failing that, we can always meet in London!

Jessica, I'll send you a message on your blog!

Northern, I completely agree that being able to move and handle heavy objects and weights is a very useful ability to have.
I have a couple of really heavy industrial brick type objects that I found in a skip some time ago, and once every other month or so I have a session with those, carrying them and lifting them in different ways.
So although I don't train that way on a regular basis, I do include that kind of thing once in a while... it's so hard to find time for everything! I guess all you can do is prioritise and keep changing your methods, there are not enough hours in the day!

Dave, I use my vest for a lot of exercises, almost every body weight exercise can be made harder in this way.
I use it for pullups, chinups, climbing (with or without the rope), pushups, quadrupedal variations, squats, pistols, lunges etc.
I don't tend to use it for running or jumps for the reasons you mentioned, but if you started with a very, very light weight and gradually increased the resistance then your body should be able to adapt to it.

Boštjan, if you re-read the post you will see that I do not say,
"that heavy squats might not have an effect on your jumping"
and what I actually said was,
"Doing squats with a heavy weight will doubtless improve my leg strength"
...so we're in agreement there, are we not?

When I said abs/core/lower back, I meant the core muscles primarily found in the torso, perhaps I should have been more specific there.

One source describes the core muscles as...
"The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back (not the shoulders), and peripherally include the hips, the shoulders and the neck."

I never said I use the rope or vest to train my core, or my posterior chain, but have you tried using a rope for a tug-of-war or dragging heavy objects forward/back? I think that would be quite a successful method.

As much as I appreciate your comment, I'd have a lot more respect for what you're trying to say if you don't insult me and if you take the time to read what I'm actually saying, first.

Anonymous said...

Me and a fellow Leicester traceur were talking yesterday, and we came to a conclusion.

As you know there are little groups inside of the Leicester traceurs, that live and train in different areas of Leicester, until we meet at, say, the Uni.

This happens more often then not as you are able to give lifts to Joe and Sam and maybe others at other times which means that if they arn't in the mood/ condition for cycling or walking ect, they can still come out to, say, the Uni.

Also, as you well know, you are a damn good traceur that everyone looks up to and usualy go to if they need help with their training in anyway but don't have the answers themselves.

Plus, I speak for myself here but I recon it's true with others/ everyone else, it's really motivating to see you training hard to where you got to, and that even though you are niftily good, you arn't happy with that, so you keep pushing, sweating and doing who knows what to get better. This for me alone at least, makes me train harder and gets me wanting that higher level in parkour so that i can sit back, and say 'I'm nothing to what i need to be!'.

Now, my question is this.

Do you know, that with you leaving Leicester, even though it's for an....acceptible reason haha....that whether you like it or not, Leicester (Or should i say, the Leicester Parkour scene) will change. Even if it's that everyone wouldn't train together with each other as often, it will still change.

So basicly, do you know, that you (pretty much) are the reason that keeps the Leicester traceurs together and (in my case at least) inspires me to train harder and longer then i would do if I had never trained with you, and that with you gone things will change?

Anonymous said...

How do I do a breakfall on concrete ground?I only dare to do breakfalls on grass and soft ground:(

Anonymous said...

blane! awesome post but my question is (just for pure awesomeness xD) what's your actual max muscle-ups repetitions number? i remembered an older post when you said you were around 30? i don't remember perfectly now ;D

Phoenix69778 said...

Thanks for the great blog. I am new to Parkour and just haven't pushed myself to take it seriously yet. I live in Phoenix, Arizona but have trouble knowing where to practice. Honestly I am kind of embarrassed to practice and have someone say something to me. Is this a common problem or am I just weird.

DrewZgoda said...

In perspective to your body, how high must a standing vertical jump be in order to accomplish a majority of moves with your body?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,
This may not be a very frequently asked question but i have come to a bit of a dilema. Your advice has always seemed to make sence to me in the past so i thought you would be the person to ask.
I turn 18 soon and in the past I have noticed bad affects that alcohol has on me in the few days to a week after. The thing to do seems to be to go out for a drink with my dad, have an amazing party with the booze flowing and just basically drink myself into adulthood.
I at first thought no alcohol was the simple solution but more recently have been wondering if it is.
I don't really know why I am steering away from the idea of not drinkings because It doesn't seem to be good for me and surly my health is important for everything I do.
Basically what I'm asking is: what are your thoughts on alcohol consumption?
Well hope you can put a few thoughts forward on what i see only to be a very difficult matter.

Anonymous said...

thanks chris,I learn lot of things from your blog.
cheers from China!(:

Maaz said...

Hey Blane,

As usual, I've just reread this post for the 5th time and I've already recieved some advice into my training, Thanks!

One question however, Where did you get your weighted vest from and what make is it? I think I'm going to invest in one soon and I need one that's good quality since i'm pretty skint at the mo =).

Thanks in advance,

Maaz

Bence Andor Horváth said...

Thanks for your thoughts! You are really inspiring in a way that I see more less as time goes on.

Greetings from Hungary!
Andor

Bence Andor Horváth said...

Thanks for your thoughts! You are really inspiring in a way that I see more less as time goes on.

Greetings from Hungary!
Andor