Sunday, August 31, 2008


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.