Author Topic: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials  (Read 9765 times)

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Parkour Mumbai
Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« on: October 16, 2010, 05:33:19 AM »
I originally wrote this article out of the confusion of the pk vs fr once and for all thread (http://www.americanparkour.com/smf/index.php/topic,30417.msg382940.html#msg382940), that debate is what prompted me to finish writing this article I had been working on for the past few months. I posted it over there two pages too late it seems when the direction of discussion had taken a different turn, and was asked to put it up as a separate thread altogether. So without further ado, here it is.

Please note: These are MY views on this topic, I'm not claiming this is the absolute gospel truth.

Parkour Stripped to its Essentials:
http://www.parkourindia.net/articles/parkourstrippedtoessentials.php


Discuss.

Offline Graham Hughes

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 644
  • Karma: +47/-23
  • FLPK
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2010, 08:13:49 AM »
Fantastic article, very well put.  Much of it has been said before but I've never heard it quite so succinctly.

If people were wiling to listen to reason and be considerate in their beliefs, then this article would finish the debate for good.  Unfortunately it's a rare kind of person who reads something and accepts their own wrongness.  Nevertheless, good job.

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Parkour Mumbai
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2010, 12:37:05 AM »
Is it alright to bump threads on APK?
I'd really like to discuss this more with Dave Sedgeley, Brett Robert, Adam McC, Andrew Hull, Tom Coppola, etc. I think we left the previous discussion mid-way, and they haven't visited the board since then.


Thanks Graham.

Offline DaveS

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 652
  • Karma: +12/-6
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2010, 08:37:42 AM »
I think that a lot of the points made in the article are correct, however the overall aim of the article is flawed because of an initial assumption:
Quote
This is also an attempt to understand the physical side of Parkour, and not the mental or metaphysical or spiritual or any other side.
Parkour, being a training discipline, is defined by both a method and a goal. All training disciplines are defined in this way; the fact that something is a training discipline means it has a goal.
The method is the physical part, the actions that we take, but the non-physical aspect of Parkour is the part that links it all together. It's the philosophy (/spirit/mental aspect) that ties all the actions together and creates the pattern which is what enables us to understand what we're doing. Any attempt to understand Parkour by focusing on just the physical part is doomed to failure.

The philosophy of Parkour is the idea that there is always a way forwards, that there is always a way to progress. The goal of Parkour is to be able to get past all of the obstacles that you are faced with. The method we use to do this is movement, but even the most basic form of the goal is far broader than that.

To do the things that help us improve we need to believe that we can improve. To confront an obstacle we need to believe that we can get past it, and to confront them all we need to believe we can get past them all, otherwise we give up. The philosophy of Parkour is not complicated, but it is involved everywhere, even on a small scale.
~ Dave
NorthernParkour and the British Parkour Coaching Association

Offline Tom Coppola

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 583
  • Karma: +73/-14
  • TomewardBound
    • View Profile
    • Florida Parkour
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2010, 04:44:24 PM »
I've been away from the forums for a bit studying for a big midterm, so I haven't had time to contribute to any discussions until now. 

I really enjoyed your article, NOS.  Just a few things that I want to point out.

Quote
So no one is denying that if you train flips/acrobatics for instance, you will not develop better spatial awareness which will then aid you in navigating through your surroundings better. But does that make a flip itself a part of 'navigating through your surroundings'? Heck, tomorrow you could even start training Ballet to improve your balance, but will that then make Ballet a part of either Parkour or Freerunning? Isn't Ballet still movement? Isn't Ballet still creatively and freely expressing yourself?

I don't think that most people who practice acrobatic skills do so in order to improve their spatial awareness, which in turn will aid in their locomotor ability.  I think most people practice these skills because they enjoy applying other forms of movement in the same environment that they apply "parkour movements" to.  It doesn't seem to be supplementary training to them.  Practice in these skills is often one of the main foci of training for many individuals.  Conversely, I, for example, practice acrobatic skills and "inefficient" movements, but consider them supplementary.  I also group weight training and body weight strength skills into my supplementary training for parkour.

Quote
Does this mean that if you say you train for Parkour or practice Parkour there are any restrictions on whether you can flip or use impractical movements because that will derail you from the path of 'pure parkour'? No! Parkour (Le Art du Deplacement), or the art of navigating one's way through one's surroundings regardless of the circumstances will remain what it is.

I agree, that one can still practice flips and impractical movements and still consider oneself a parkour practitioner.  However, once one's focus of training shifts from movements that will aid in getting from one point to another to movements that will not, this is when the individual is no longer practicing JUST parkour, but also exploring other forms of movement for the sake of pursuing new interests and ways of expression.

I think that a lot of the points made in the article are correct, however the overall aim of the article is flawed because of an initial assumption: Parkour, being a training discipline, is defined by both a method and a goal. All training disciplines are defined in this way; the fact that something is a training discipline means it has a goal.
The method is the physical part, the actions that we take, but the non-physical aspect of Parkour is the part that links it all together. It's the philosophy (/spirit/mental aspect) that ties all the actions together and creates the pattern which is what enables us to understand what we're doing. Any attempt to understand Parkour by focusing on just the physical part is doomed to failure.

The philosophy of Parkour is the idea that there is always a way forwards, that there is always a way to progress. The goal of Parkour is to be able to get past all of the obstacles that you are faced with. The method we use to do this is movement, but even the most basic form of the goal is far broader than that.

To do the things that help us improve we need to believe that we can improve. To confront an obstacle we need to believe that we can get past it, and to confront them all we need to believe we can get past them all, otherwise we give up. The philosophy of Parkour is not complicated, but it is involved everywhere, even on a small scale.

Dave, I have to disagree with you on this point.  I agree that there is a mental aspect of parkour, but every physical discipline can be defined by the observable behavior of the individuals who practice it.  What separates powerlifting from olympic lifting are the physical lifts that they practice, what separates football from rugby are the rules of play that the athletes engage in, what separates a karate punch from a kung fu punch is the physical expression of the movement, what separates a distance runner from a sprinter is the distance and speed at which they travel, etc...  You don't have to understand the mental side of these disciplines to understand what they are, you just have to observe them. 

If we consider that philosophy of parkour is the idea that there is always a way to progress, then parkour is not unique.  Most other disciplines utilize this philosophy, it is just expressed in a physically different way.  For example, in order to progress in powerlifting, one needs to believe that they can lift more weight.  If they can't lift more weight, then they train harder or program more intelligently, but they don't give up.  Their goal is to continually improve in developing strength and it would be counter productive to simply lift the same weight every time.

What makes parkour unique is the physical expression of this philosophy.  Parkour being the systematic improvement of (the philosophy) movement from one place to another (the physical expression).
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 04:46:27 PM by Tom Coppola »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

When faced with the stress of a life-threatening engagement, we don't rise to the occasion, we descend to our level of training.

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Parkour Mumbai
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 10:22:48 PM »
Quote
So no one is denying that if you train flips/acrobatics for instance, you will not develop better spatial awareness which will then aid you in navigating through your surroundings better. But does that make a flip itself a part of 'navigating through your surroundings'? Heck, tomorrow you could even start training Ballet to improve your balance, but will that then make Ballet a part of either Parkour or Freerunning? Isn't Ballet still movement? Isn't Ballet still creatively and freely expressing yourself?
I don't think that most people who practice acrobatic skills do so in order to improve their spatial awareness, which in turn will aid in their locomotor ability.  I think most people practice these skills because they enjoy applying other forms of movement in the same environment that they apply "parkour movements" to.  It doesn't seem to be supplementary training to them.  Practice in these skills is often one of the main foci of training for many individuals.  Conversely, I, for example, practice acrobatic skills and "inefficient" movements, but consider them supplementary.  I also group weight training and body weight strength skills into my supplementary training for parkour.
That's exactly what I'm trying to say. I didn't mean that 100% of flippers train for spatial awareness or as supplementary training, but then there are some who do put forth that reasoning, and I'm simply acknowledging that reasoning as valid.

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Parkour Mumbai
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2010, 10:31:58 PM »
See, therein lies the problem Dave. Because Parkour/Freerun/ADD are at the end of the day physical activities, physical manifestations of the mental/philosophical parts. The mental parts all came later. These disciplines began with learning to jump over things, which is a physical thing.

With my article, I am trying to define the limitations of the physical side of what we do. The mental part cannot exist without the physical part, just as the physical part cannot exist without the mental part. So you (Dave) already have well-thought out definitions of the mental/philosophical parts. I guess those arguments have already been laid to rest. No one brings them up much because there isn't much ambiguity in those arguments.
But then, what is this physical part? What kind of physical motion comprises this discipline and what doesn't? We keep arguing about that online (we as in the entire community) all the time, but never reach any consensus.

That is the reason I wrote this article, to delve into what are the limitations of physical movement that can be counted as pk/fr/add and what cannot. Which is also why I do not call my article 'What is Parkour' but rather call it stripping down Parkour to its very bare-bones basics.

Offline Sparklefish

  • EAF!
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 1323
  • Karma: +147/-16
    • View Profile
    • San Francisco Parkour
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2010, 01:19:40 AM »
Dave, I have to disagree with you on this point.  I agree that there is a mental aspect of parkour, but every physical discipline can be defined by the observable behavior of the individuals who practice it.  What separates powerlifting from olympic lifting are the physical lifts that they practice, what separates football from rugby are the rules of play that the athletes engage in, what separates a karate punch from a kung fu punch is the physical expression of the movement, what separates a distance runner from a sprinter is the distance and speed at which they travel, etc...  You don't have to understand the mental side of these disciplines to understand what they are, you just have to observe them. 

If we consider that philosophy of parkour is the idea that there is always a way to progress, then parkour is not unique.  Most other disciplines utilize this philosophy, it is just expressed in a physically different way.  For example, in order to progress in powerlifting, one needs to believe that they can lift more weight.  If they can't lift more weight, then they train harder or program more intelligently, but they don't give up.  Their goal is to continually improve in developing strength and it would be counter productive to simply lift the same weight every time.

What makes parkour unique is the physical expression of this philosophy.  Parkour being the systematic improvement of (the philosophy) movement from one place to another (the physical expression).


Well said.  Additionally, if the philosophy of parkour is so essential to its practice, why don't parkour classes include a written curriculum?  The roots of the type of thinking go back to the "New Thought" or "Mind Cure" movements of the Post-Victorian age.  One could easily write a Master's Thesis or Ph.D. dissertation on the subject of philosophy in Parkour, but that's not what we do is it?

(Well I guess most of us in this thread actually do try to do exactly that :P)

NOS, I liked the article.  I think the Bruce Lee analogy is a weak link.  I'm interested in the line of thought you're developing, and the parallels with Martial Arts.  However, Bruce Lee was a film actor.  Sure he got in fights in his early years, but he wasn't a fighter.  I'd encourage you to study the philosophies of people who regularly tested their skills.  I'm not saying Bruce Lee couldn't fight, I'm just saying that's not where he demonstrated his genius.  He was a brilliant fight choreographer and had talent at making things look brilliant on screen.  I read the Tao of Jeet Kune Do a long time ago, so I'm somewhat familiar with his ideas on practical applications, but I just don't think he's the best place to look for parallels.

(As much as I love Bruce Lee.)

Maybe you could find a better parallel with someone like Pat Miletich?

However, it's complicated by the fact that sanctioned fights have rules which prohibit the most dangerous (i.e. practically effective) tactics for the safety of the participants.  However, such is life.  No one thing is exactly like another.  I do think we benefit greatly from examining other disciplines.  Not only can we take what works and leave the rest, but we can also spot similar trends, problems, and opportunities in their histories.

EDIT:  I thought about it more.  Just because Bruce Lee wasn't a fighter doesn't mean his theories about fighting were wrong, however I still think they deserve extra-skepticism for that reason.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 10:09:46 PM by Brett Robert »

Offline DaveS

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 652
  • Karma: +12/-6
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2010, 01:16:47 PM »
Tom, technically yes, Parkour does have observable effects that can be distinguished from the effects of any other activity. The difference between Parkour and sports is that the specific effects in Parkour are different with each practitioner. There are no standard actions like there are in sports, no standard starting point and no standard destination. There isn't even a standard progression path for practitioners.

The ultimate effect of Parkour is making progress in getting past the obstacles the practitioner faces.
To see the improvement you need to know what their ability was in the past and what their ability is now, so you need to observe them now and then observe them again later. To see what obstacles they face you need to know what they are trying to achieve, and to observe this you need to see a range of improvements over time to determine the direction they are taking.
These things are theoretically observable, but observing them in practice is a difficult task. It is far easier and far more precise to describe Parkour in terms of a method and a goal.

NOS, the physical element doesn't come first. The mental element comes first. Before you move you have to decide to move, you have to choose what movement to use, you have to believe that you can move, you have to have the desire to move. You can't take any physical action without first taking some action with the mind.
Even when you're physically acting your mind's also involved. You're constantly perceiving the environment, and your own state, evaluating as you go, subconsciously. After you finish, the conscious evaluation process starts up again, finding out what you did wrong, how to improve, where to go now.
Movement is a mental challenge right from the very start and all the way through to the end. The physical element is the tip of the iceberg, It's easy to see, and it's easy to lose sight of what's supporting it.

Brett, you don't have to write things down in order to think (although it is useful). A good Parkour class does involve thinking time, before movement to prepare and after movement to analyze and change. For complete beginners these parts are sometimes done by the coach, but it's an essential part of the learning process.
~ Dave
NorthernParkour and the British Parkour Coaching Association

Offline Sparklefish

  • EAF!
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 1323
  • Karma: +147/-16
    • View Profile
    • San Francisco Parkour
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2010, 10:13:22 PM »
Dave I don't think you actually disagree with NOS.  I don't think he's saying the mental process isn't involved at all in the beginning.  I believe he's saying that more elaborate and specific critical thinking about parkour usually happens later in one's journey with parkour.  Which seems in-line with statements you've made elsewhere.

Offline DaveS

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 652
  • Karma: +12/-6
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2010, 03:17:20 AM »
Brett, I said before that I agree with NOS on most of the points he makes. The problem as I perceive it is how he tries to tie it all together, by assuming that the physical element can be separated from the mental. It's really not helpful in the long run to try and focus on just one little bit, because everything is linked and you can't understand anything completely when considered in isolation.
~ Dave
NorthernParkour and the British Parkour Coaching Association

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Parkour Mumbai
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2010, 11:10:42 PM »
Dave, I don't think you and I are ever going to be able to agree on this till you keep defining Parkour as a complete training discipline in itself. That concept is where your understanding of the mental aspect comes from, and why you keep saying it is not possible to understand the physical side of Parkour without understanding the mental side.
Tom has already presented his argument against your statement that Parkour is about learning to apply progress in your entire life rather than just in training. He correctly argues that progress is not something that is exclusive to Parkour.

All other disciplines teach you to progress in some way or the other outside of the discipline. So how exactly would you then differenciate Parkour from every other activity out there? What makes Parkour different from, say Basketball for instance? Or Martial Arts? How would you classify what is Basketball, and what is Martial Arts, and what is Parkour/ADD?
In order to solve that dilemma, I presented my viewpoints defining the physical boundaries within which the concept of Parkour revolves. But you keep saying the physical part cannot exist in isolation till you have also defined the mental. So my (and Tom's) question is - if this mental aspect is a part of the definition of Parkour, then how do you differentiate between your Parkour and all other disciplines out there which have the same definition for their mental aspects?

The second logical fallacy I would like to point out to you is that of the 'complete training methodology' that you keep saying Parkour is.
Let's look at this hypothesis.

Parkour is a complete physical training methodology.
Flexibility is an integral part of physical training.
Can a person improve his flexibility practicing just Parkour? Can a person get more flexible doing just kongs and precisions? No. Then flexibility is not a part of Parkour. If you cannot get flexible doing Parkour, then it stands that Parkour cannot be a complete physical training methodology either.

Strength is an integral part of physical training. The same applies for strength.
The established efficient method for increasing strength is through progressive resistance training exercise. Or weight-training if you will. This is a scientifically proven fact. Can weight-training be called Parkour? Is it a part of Parkour?

If no to both questions above, then it stands that Parkour is not a complete physical training methodology, but in order to excel at the physical aspects of Parkour, you need to incorporate elements from other physical training disciplines, such as focused strength and flexibility work, in order to improve those areas.

Offline Adam McC

  • Delicious
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 2381
  • Karma: +209/-43
  • Level 1 Sexability Certified
    • View Profile
    • Lehigh Valley Parkour
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2010, 04:41:14 AM »
And thus, Parkour is a path. A way. A route with no beginning and no destination. A path in which we improve ourselves by overcoming our goals; sometimes physical, sometimes mental, often both. It is a path that is walked by the individual, and no two paths are the same. Your path is influenced by your past experiences, your present abilities, and your future goals. And as every person has their own experience, their own present ability, and their own goals, how can we possibly ever define it? The only way is to say it is individual, and ever changing.

So how to we physically define it? I think the more you try to go all crazy about it, the worse it gets. For example. We all know what baseball is. I think that's a pretty clear concept. But we could do this same circular logic about baseball as well. Is baseball swinging bats? So if some kids are just playing catch with no bat, is it baseball? Is baseball the use of a "baseball"? So, if I play with a tennis ball, is it still the same? Is baseball all about running bases? Does that mean home run derbies are not baseball? ESPN would disagree.

The point is, you can dissect anything and break it into enough pieces that it is no longer a whole, and no longer discernible. I think we all know what Parkour is, as opposed to Martial Arts or tricking. My problem lies within the discipline, the distinction between parkour, freerunning, and ADD. I call those within the discipline because just instinctively, we know those come from the same vine, they are not something separate like martial arts. Doesn't mean you can't integrate martial arts and parkour, but they have different roots. I think debating this with logic and semantics and finites is just going to lead nowhere. You can do that to everything and it'll never get you anywhere. I'm not saying this discussion is purposeless, I think this is an awesome topic and the article is great. Just be careful how circular of a path your logic takes you, and if indeed it is still serving your original purpose, or if you're just arguing to somehow still be right about something. :)

•Lehigh Valley Parkour Community Founder
•Level 1 A.D.A.P.T. Certified
•Urban Current Member

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Parkour Mumbai
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2010, 06:57:51 AM »
So how to we physically define it? I think the more you try to go all crazy about it, the worse it gets. For example. We all know what baseball is. I think that's a pretty clear concept. But we could do this same circular logic about baseball as well. Is baseball swinging bats? So if some kids are just playing catch with no bat, is it baseball? Is baseball the use of a "baseball"? So, if I play with a tennis ball, is it still the same? Is baseball all about running bases? Does that mean home run derbies are not baseball? ESPN would disagree.
That brought a smile to my face. Very well said.

Offline Corndogg

  • Global Moderator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 588
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
    • SF Parkour
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2010, 10:17:59 AM »
A hard topic, trying to use a few words to describe a physical discipline and philosophy.  I don't think you can separate physical from mental though.  One simply cannot exist without the other, otherwise you are a vegetable or a brain in a jar.  I try not to think of them separately (nor the spirit, but thats another story).  The problem I continue to see is when people try and create a clear black-and-white definition with a boundary of what parkour is, and isn't.  I don't think you can be that explicit.  It's not based on hard and fast rules, it's based on the individual's intent in a specific situation, and as that's always a personal and subjective thing it makes it difficult to define in broad, general terms, yet still be specific enough to differentiate it.  I feel that defining what is and isn't creates a boundary, a dividing line, an obstacle, and that's not really what parkour is about.  We do need to define it to some degree though, since that's part of communicating and educating others, transferring that knowledge.  Many practitioners also want to protect the idea of parkour, and not have it diluted or corrupted, especially as it becomes part of their identity.  I think people have highlighted the fact that there is parkour as a "thing" and then there is your own training for that "thing", and that people may train for it very differently.  That's an important distinction. 

How I have been approaching it thus far, though always trying to learn and refine further, is:

  • I try and act as a guide, not an all-knowing instructor.  Everyone should always keep an open mind, there is always more to learn.
  • I try and describe parkour as best I can, noting that there is no clear black-and-white definition.  There are lots of online resources and opinions to point people to.
  • I encourage people to get out there and start training.  Virtual and online only gets you so far, you have to experience the movements.  Only then will you be able to start understanding what parkour is, and how you want to embrace it.  Everyone will approach it differently.
  • As your knowledge increases, and your training progresses, you will not only be able to describe parkour more clearly, but understand that in practical application definitions are meaningless.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2010, 10:20:35 AM by Corndogg »
SF Parkour // SFPK - | Website | Forum | YouTube |
Serving the Greater San Francisco Bay Area

Offline DaveS

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 652
  • Karma: +12/-6
    • View Profile
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2010, 03:05:04 PM »
Nos:
You've interpreted my thought process incorrectly. Calling Parkour a complete discipline is not the issue here. That label has got nothing to do with my understanding. What I'm saying is that it's not possible to understand the physical part of Parkour separately because it doesn't exist separately in Parkour. Whether you call Parkour a complete discipline or not is irrelevant, the fact is that all movement is intrinsically both a physical and mental task. The only difference between the physical part and the mental part is that by it's very nature you don't have to be consciously aware of the mental part.

Differentiating Parkour from other activities is difficult, but it's not complicated concept to understand. If you want to tell it apart from other activities then you need to look to whichever part is different from those other activities.
For the purposes of this discussion Parkour is best defined by both a method and a goal. The method is movement and the goal is self-development.
If you are comparing it to activities that use a very similar method (i.e. other movement disciplines) then the part that best differentiates it is the goal of self-development.
If you're comparing it to activities with the same goal of self development (i.e. MovNat, traditional martial arts etc.), the part that best differentiates it is the use of movement as the method.
If you're comparing it to Basketball (or almost any other sport), the parts that differentiate it are the method and the lack of arbitrary rules.

It's true that almost all sport is at least partially designed to help people develop in some way outside the sporting context. The difference between these activities and Parkour is that the introduction of arbitrary rules to sports forces participants to limit their ways of thinking in certain artificial ways. That immediately makes it less relevant to the real challenges and difficulties faced.
If people inserted arbitrary goals like prizes and certificates and artificial environments to Parkour I agree, there would be little difference between what they do and those other sports. However, that's not what this discipline is.

(Although it's irrelevant to this discussion I should point out, with all due respect, that it's nonsense to suggest that you can't improve your strength or flexibility through Parkour. Movement, being by far the most common form of exercise in the natural world, can challenge you in many different ways.
If you only care about one attribute, like strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, or whatever, then there will of course be a better way of developing that on its own. However, isolating one attribute is counter-productive if you want to get better at using your attributes together to complete practical tasks, such as movement. The best way to improve your ability to perform such complex tasks will always be to practice those complex tasks themselves. Practice exactly what you want to get better at, if you can, and only if you can't should you consider something else. A straight line is always a faster route than a curved one.)


Adam:
You're right that each practitioners follows their own path, but I think for that precise reason it's not helpful to think of Parkour as a path. The path is your life. The starting point is you, now. The destination is your goals and desires. None of that is in any way Parkour's, it's all yours. Parkour is a tool to help you create and follow your path, but not a path in itself.
Sometimes different tools can do essentially the same job. For this reason it's very difficult to identify the tools by looking at the object they've crafted (which is the equivalent of identifying Parkour by looking at a practitioner).


Corndogg:
You make useful points, but your last bullet point is misleading.
The realization that you need to stop conscious thought when the time comes to act is an important one, but it's not the end of the story and it's therefore dangerous to make generalizations about it. Also in your training comes the realization that conscious thought, with all it's logic and definitions, has a vital role in practical situations both before and after the action itself.
This illustrates one reason why we should guide people by showing them questions and challenges instead of presenting them with answers, tempting though it may be to try and offer them a shortcut to the solution in this way. Answers change, questions remain the same.



To all:
The essence of Parkour is when someone tries to move past an obstacle. That's not the whole discipline, but it's what's at the core of it. That's all a person needs to do, just try and move past an obstacle.

The rest of the discipline consists of the things that are intrinsically linked to this core, intrinsically linked to trying to move past obstacles.
The things that come before (the preparation, choices etc.). The things that come during the movement (i.e. the movement itself). The things that come after it (evaluation, improvement etc.).

Even when you first start these things are there. None exist separately, none can exist separately. For example, you can't move without having decided to move, and you can't exercise without rest. All the other bits that are linked are there as soon as you take this first step, because they are a part of every step. These things happen whether you are aware of them or not, it just happens that most people when they start are not aware of them.

The first step of practicing Parkour is to take control of the first core element, to choose to try and move past obstacles.
Progression in Parkour (as opposed to progress with movement) means taking control of more and more of the process. You start to try and control the factors relating to your choice of movement, and then to your choice of obstacle, and then things even earlier in the process. You start to control the recovery process too.
By increasing your control of the process you get better at getting past obstacles, but as the factors become more general and more fundamental you also get better at more general and fundamental tasks.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 03:24:31 PM by DaveS »
~ Dave
NorthernParkour and the British Parkour Coaching Association

Offline Adam McC

  • Delicious
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 2381
  • Karma: +209/-43
  • Level 1 Sexability Certified
    • View Profile
    • Lehigh Valley Parkour
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2010, 11:06:35 AM »

Adam:
You're right that each practitioners follows their own path, but I think for that precise reason it's not helpful to think of Parkour as a path. The path is your life. The starting point is you, now. The destination is your goals and desires. None of that is in any way Parkour's, it's all yours. Parkour is a tool to help you create and follow your path, but not a path in itself.
Sometimes different tools can do essentially the same job. For this reason it's very difficult to identify the tools by looking at the object they've crafted (which is the equivalent of identifying Parkour by looking at a practitioner).
 

Right. I think a better way to define how I'm thinking would be this: Life is a journey, (ha ha cliche) and Parkour is a path you can choose to take you through that journey. When I say path, I don't mean the big picture. The -big path-, life, is life to death, be that birth to death or the life of the soul or whatever your beliefs are, that's another story. When I say "Parkour is a path" I mean it is a road you can elect to take. A branch on a tree. Like going from home to work, you can take the highway or backroads or main street, those are all different paths.

Anyways, semantics. Nice post.

•Lehigh Valley Parkour Community Founder
•Level 1 A.D.A.P.T. Certified
•Urban Current Member

Offline Corndogg

  • Global Moderator
  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 588
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
    • SF Parkour
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2010, 11:03:50 AM »
Corndogg:
You make useful points, but your last bullet point is misleading.
The realization that you need to stop conscious thought when the time comes to act is an important one, but it's not the end of the story and it's therefore dangerous to make generalizations about it. Also in your training comes the realization that conscious thought, with all it's logic and definitions, has a vital role in practical situations both before and after the action itself.
This illustrates one reason why we should guide people by showing them questions and challenges instead of presenting them with answers, tempting though it may be to try and offer them a shortcut to the solution in this way. Answers change, questions remain the same.


Dave - Nowhere did I say conscious thought would stop.  I said that while in the moment, in practical application, leaning on definitions is meaningless.  You will not be thinking "I should do a parkour move now.  Now I should do a freerunning move.  No wait, thats not a freerunning move."  Your conscious thought will be based on current need, independent of definitions.
SF Parkour // SFPK - | Website | Forum | YouTube |
Serving the Greater San Francisco Bay Area

Offline Gabe Arnold

  • Hirundo Rustica
  • *****
  • Posts: 900
  • Karma: +125/-6
  • Proud Founder of S.U.T.S.
    • View Profile
    • Gabe Arnold Fitness
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2010, 10:14:42 PM »
--Essentials of Parkour--

Physical...
> A human body.
> An environment(s) in which to move/train.

Mental...
> A willingness to move the body.
> A desire to improve movement's effectiveness in said environment(s).

Rinse, repeat. To me everything after that is fluff, justification and philosophication (yup, I'm inventing a word) of a simplified center. I have my body, I have an obstacle. I have a desire to overcome said obstacle and, through practice, trial and error, creativity, etc., improve how I do that. Anything past that is simply a pressure from my mind's own desire to form patterns and give meaning to an otherwise pointless act.

Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

  • Mangabey
  • ****
  • Posts: 387
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Parkour Mumbai
Re: Parkour Stripped to its Essentials
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2010, 10:18:26 PM »
To all:
The essence of Parkour is when someone tries to move past an obstacle. That's not the whole discipline, but it's what's at the core of it. That's all a person needs to do, just try and move past an obstacle.

The rest of the discipline consists of the things that are intrinsically linked to this core, intrinsically linked to trying to move past obstacles.
Lol.
Y'know Dave, with this statement you just ended up agreeing with my original article in whole. ;) :P