Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PINWC Domain

Since I know you all value time saving and efficiency so much, I've just purchased this domain and forwarded it to my blog to save you all typing in the long '.blogspot.com' address - so update your bookmarks accordingly!

Yes, after deciding I wanted to put more effort in to this blog by padding it out with more content I thought that should be my first step... and over the next little while I'm going to try and make the blog much easier to navigate and have different sections for articles, videos, training plans etc. I'm also going to experiment with tutorial style videos for techniques and conditioning exercises in the near future.

That's it! Just wanted to let you guys know what the plan is. Keep training hard and remember, power is nothing without control...


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Common Denominators

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that from the outside, every practitioner of Parkour is seen to be part of one large collective under the same umbrella. It is only upon closer inspection that it becomes possible to see that so many of us are doing different things and just choosing to use the same word to define what we actually do.

Now in my opinion not one of these definitions, motivations or reasons to practice are more righteous or better than any other, for I think it is important that we all follow our own paths and do what makes us happy. But it is interesting that as individuals we have all found something that draws us to this one word, that we then twist to mean something slightly different to each of us.

"What are you doing?" is a question I often find myself answering when I am training and each time that I do, I tend to answer a little differently. There is no definitive, simple answer to this question for me and I would imagine most of you have felt the same way when someone has inquired as to what it is you are doing.
"Parkour." tends to be the default answer that I hear myself and others use most frequently. And, "Oh! That free running stuff where you jump off buildings, right? Do a backflip!" is unfortunately one of the more common retorts that the word Parkour prompts.
But if we ourselves cannot agree on what we are doing, as a community, then how can we really expect members of the general public to?

You have to admit, the word itself is not particularly attractive or easy to say, so I think it is obvious that there is something else within the discipline itself that attracts all of these people to attach themselves to it and label themselves as practitioners of Parkour. A common denominator that unites us, if you like.

Extreme sports are relatively new and have become more and more popular as people have found themselves in increasingly dull and unsatisfying jobs. 'Weekend Warriors' are everywhere and you will know some of them, I'm sure. They're the ones who work Monday to Friday and use their weekends to escape and try to compensate for their tedious weeks by jumping out of aeroplanes or abseiling down cliff faces, in Wales.
With levels of obesity and depression at all time highs, alcoholism and drug use everywhere and everyone being told what to wear, where to go and how to think by a select few… is it any surprise that so many of us are looking for an outlet and way to escape all of this?

Could it be the freedom associated with Parkour that unites us, then? The fact that we don't make use of any special equipment means there is no board, wheel, bearing or handle to break, or restrict us. There is no need to avoid certain surfaces, weather conditions or locations. There is nowhere we cannot go, nothing we cannot make use of - the variables that spoil other sports and bring some activities to a halt, are the things we actively look for to challenge us. We strive in what would often be considered as difficult conditions and this makes Parkour very attractive and accessible to the masses.
If we are all just trying to quench some primal thirst for adventure and freedom, it is only natural that so many of us would be drawn to something where such freedom, physicality, self-improvement and courage are so widely employed and valued.

Most of us are social beings and enjoy interacting with others. We like being a part of something… so after their initial experience of Parkour, individuals often find themselves on one of the many forums or online communities that grow in number by the day, trying to find more answers.
Tragically, their new-found sense of freedom and excitement that is inherent in their discovery of Parkour is so often destroyed when they join our communities. They are told by everyone else what it is they are doing and what they should be doing. No longer are they on their own path, fueled by a moment of inspiration, but they are suddenly redirected on to one paved by everyone else.
Why they stood up and decided to explore their potential to move in the beginning is no longer their driving force, their goals are adjusted and purpose refined as they find out more and more about Parkour.
Ironically, instead of retaining their individuality and pursuing their own goals, these people try to conform to an ideal that nobody can agree on in the first place! But there is comfort in a crowd, strength in numbers and a satisfaction felt when one is part of something.
I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I wanted to find the 'secrets' to becoming great at Parkour and to find out more and more about the discipline, rather than exploring how I can become great at what it is I want to do... and succeed in being who I want to be.

So the reason I believe that we have so many different definitions of Parkour is due to us all retaining a part of our individuality and trying to do our own thing - but at the same time wanting to hold on to our place in the community so we can claim to be part of something bigger. 'Parkour' becomes what we all do, despite us all actually moving in different ways, for different reasons.

We do have something in common with each other though. What unites us is movement. It is what we do with this movement and our reasons for developing our mental and physical capacities, through movement, that is unique to us all. Whether we call it Parkour, Freerunning, L'art du deplacement or even 'Rage Froobling' is irrelevant. Words are overrated and poorly used. In the end I think all that matters is that we all retain our individuality and do what makes us happy, and avoid getting too caught up in definitions and terms.

'I practice Parkour', and to this day I think what I'm doing is very close to what the founder(s) intended that to be, but if an official definition was released tomorrow and it differed from my goals, it wouldn't bother me to call what I do something else. I enjoy being a part of a community who share a passion for movement but I think less than 5% of the people I have met and trained with practice for the same reasons, and to the same end, as myself.

And that is a good thing.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. - Oscar Wilde