What does your practice mean to you?

Throughout the years I’ve thought of many things that parkour is to me. A way of thinking that breaks you out of the normal pattern of movement. A fun pastime, something that I can always have a good time doing. A great way to meet people, and a way both to stand out from the normal flow of our society and to fit in to a community filled with people of similar mindsets (in a certain regard.) I have been thinking of one thing more recently: Parkour allows us to be better.

Not necessarily in a prideful condescending way. I believe that all people are equal in importance. However, there is something about this art that allows you to take your body beyond the limits of common knowledge. If you need an example, just think of all the people that treat you like your crazy for practicing parkour, a thrill seeker with a desire to do dangerous things. “Normal” people don’t think of the human body, or their human body at least, in the way that we do. Before I practiced parkour, a 10 foot drop was in my mind an almost guaranteed injury. It was not possible for the human body to withstand such things. I would have never thought that my body was capable of so much more. I grew up loving superheroes and sci-fi. The idea of being something more than a normal human was, and is, intriguing to me. Parkour is my way to achieve that goal in the here and now. I can be better today than I was yesterday. I can do more than I thought possible today than I could years ago. I can be more than the average human. I can muster my strength and push my limits until I reach a level that no one thought possible. This art allows us to be better than average, better than just normal. I really admire that about parkour.

I am currently attempting to become a police officer, and I definitely feel that training in parkour has prepared me. I have trained my body so that it is able and efficient, and with that body, I can help other people who do not have the same mindset as me. I can not only show them that we as humans are more capable than we think, but I can use my skills to help keep them safe, and to serve them.

Practicing parkour means a lot of things to me. Right now, however, the focus is on bettering myself. I believe someone relevant to this conversation once said, “be strong to be useful.” That is what practicing parkour means to me right now.

What does your practice mean to you?

Parkour to me is like playing. I love to be able to creatively move through my environment, which is also a reason that I was a passionate skateboarder for many years, and why I continue to ski.

Parkour has reinforced my understanding of the different levels of thinking in my brain. Using too much rational thinking in parkour can be dangerous: e.g. considering the risks of balancing at height, or imaging the different ways I could get injured during a movement. I know to shut those thoughts out and just go for it, granted I know a certain maneuver is within my abilities.

I have learned to trust my instinctual judgement of distances and speed required, etc. It’s quite amazing what the human brain can evaluate without rational calculation. My experience has led to me having very good grasp of what I am capable of, and what I am not. This confidence in my abilities is why I have yet to suffer any side-lining injury.

Another thing I love about parkour is that it makes me feel true physical risk; it makes me feel alive. I enjoy putting myself in situations in which my physical abilities are the only things keeping me from suffering major damage. Example: balancing at height. Living a vanilla life of driving to work, sitting at my desk all day, then heading to the gym to use the nautilus machines is too safe. It is not the life I choose to lead.

I live in the Netherlands now, and don’t train parkour much because I haven’t yet met a group of people that train near me. But I still engage in risky physical activities that require strength, endurance, and balance. They are slacklining, rock climbing, and survival training (a Dutch variant of obstacle course racing).

What does your practice mean to you?

Just like any meaningful practice, “art du déplacement” is like a vehicle, or a boat. It can be used by the working people, or by the dreamers, or by the altruists (a given person can embody all three, of course) … Unless it is one of those few, very specific circumstances, the name of the boat doesn’t matter that much. You need a solid structure—sound foundations—, and you need to learn the fundamentals of navigation. But then you can get from one place to another (i.e. maintain your health on a daily basis), explore uncharted waters (i.e. push the boundaries of a specific theme you’re working on, such as creativity, during a given year or season), or carry people across a river (i.e. dedicating a time of your life to coaching, whatever specific content you believe needs transmission). Oftentimes, a small canoe may just as well serve these purposes, for scale and integrity are two largely unrelated topics (“we’re gonna need a bigger boat!”). You might even change boat one day, drop the anchor for some time, abandon ship altogether or even leave your small embarkation on the shore as an offering to future, unknown travellers—for once you’ve crossed the river, you may realize that there’s no need to carry the heavy boat all around on land.

What does your practice mean to you?

Practice to me means pushing my limits and growing in strength and technique. I want to eventually use parkour in rough inner city areas; however, first, I must learn as much as possible and be able to execute moves with skill in order to keep the attention and respect of the youth. When I train, I am preparing for something more then just my enjoyment of an activity. I am developing skills to help me reach into lives of youth who are hurting and longing to find something clean, safe, and fun to express themselves with and find community in. Practice is also about having fun and enjoying the exploration of what my body is capable of!