I am NOT afraid to talk about suicide

Shame is a powerful thing. It can turn the strongest of us to blubbering wrecks, it can freeze our bodies to the spot, cause us to retreat in on ourselves, to grow small and even act completely in opposition to our nature. Shame silences us. It convinces us that we’re alone and this alienation only drives us deeper into solitude.

Even after years of grappling with my ghosts, my shame still haunts me. It catches my words in my throat and renders me speechless. Why? Because like a bully that doesn’t want you to speak out against the tormentors, this emotion knows that words are the way out. Like a boa-constrictor, it coils its tail around our throats, choking our ability to share and therefore connect; because when we share an emotion we remove its power and make it more manageable to deal with, eventually relinquishing its hold on us. Talking about our feelings enables us to step out of isolation and realise that we’re not so different or alone after all.

My process towards connection continues here. I hope that by sharing the words in text that I couldn’t on the microphone, I’ll manage not only to lessen my own isolation, but perhaps to aid someone else out of theirs too.

Here goes…

Continue Reading…

What else would you like to share?

Do and Jutsu in Parkour

When I asked for the difference between judo and jujutsu to be explained to me, my sensei used to bring me the mountain metaphor. I try to remember it and write it down.

For my teacher the martial art is like a mountain and the journey (life) leads us to the summit. But like a real mountain, one face is rocky and the other hilly, one cold side, the other sunny. When you are preparing for ascension, from the bottom, you can have an overview and decide how you want to climb: by the quickest and most direct route or by the slowest and sweetest path. It is at this stage that, in fact, we decide what our goal is: we want to enjoy the view and learn something about the local flora and fauna or do we prefer to acquire techniques that allow us to reach the top even in the most adverse conditions?

And here we are at the heart of the matter, jutsu means method, technique (1), its objective is explicitly functional. On the other hand, the end of do , which means path, path (1), is to reach a certain level of introspection, a profound experience of reality. (2)

In nineteenth-century Japan, with the samurai era at sunset, culture changed and technology rendered traditional fighting arts obsolete in one way or another. However, people wanted to continue to practice martial arts but had to shift their attention: this new generation chose self-improvement and spiritual upliftment as its main purpose. (2) After this change of goal resulted in a restructuring, more or less marked, the technical baggage of the disciplines that, in fact, no longer had effectiveness as a priority.

We come, finally, to the Parkour. I believe that our discipline is in a privileged position compared to the Japanese martial arts. The jutsu of parkour, in fact, does not consist of a series of techniques to dislocate the joints or to decapitate the adversaries, but in a general system to overcome the obstacles of the environment that is crossed. It is therefore evident that the jutsu of parkour can be applied in its most utilitarian form without having to fall short of its ethical principles (or without incurring serious legal consequences). Practicing jutsu means, for me, tracing paths in continuity from a starting point to a pre-established arrival point, paying attention:

  • To apply the right series of movements (not to waste energy or time)
  • All ‘harmony of movements that follow each other (because the fluidity of the succession of muscular tension derives the effectiveness of a series of movements)
  • The silence of impacts (because “no sound, not shock”)

And the do ? Well, the most spiritual side of parkour lies in overcoming one’s mental limitations, as well as in the continuous strengthening of one’s own will to progress. Working on do in parkour, for me, is:

  • Carrying out particularly painstaking conditioning exercises (from the physical point of view, but above all the mental one) that I set (to temper my willpower)
  • Perform single risky movements, that is, motilemente difficult and potentially dangerous (to develop concentration and lucidity in moments of stress)
  • Refine the techniques (to respond to an aesthetic and functional sense)

It is good to remember, however, that there is a common basis for the two practices: physical conditioning. Neither the justu nor the do can express themselves if the body is not ready to face the obstacles.

On the other hand, there are some specific consequences of the two training methods. Training jutsu leads to greater adaptability, a high capacity for improvisation as well as the possibility of seeing the city as one full of possibilities and not as a series of watertight environments and obligatory passages. On the other hand, developing the do refines the precision and control and the possibility of “unlocking” passages deemed unimaginable.

We return for a moment to Japan: considering the jutsu as a functional modality and the do linked more to reason to engage in combat, we realize that very few could harmonize the two components . These rare cases do not justify the belief that this was the norm or that, from the historical point of view, jutsu was identical to the do of high ethical purposes. (3)

Parkour’s luck is right here: the do and the jutsu of the parkour are not as difficult to integrate as those in the Japanese fighting arts. It is possible, for us, to develop the two things together: we rely on do to develop and give meaning to a track and tracing out of overly specialized or aesthetic research.

Note:

  1. From Wikipedia
  2. From Do vs Jutsu, Jeff Brooks
  3. From the ancient martial arts, Ratti Westbrook

Thoughts on the 2017 Art of Retreat

This weekend I attended The Art of Retreat in NYC with many of the community leaders, business owners and athletes that have been directly responsible for the growth and progress of our young sport. Collecting my thoughts will be difficult so we’ll see how this goes.

I thought I was attending the event to discuss with others how and why we should form a national governing body for the American communities – after the first day of governance discussion with Eugene Minogue and Victor Bevine it became very clear to me that the solution to our communal plight does not lie within what others have done in the past, but rather within the parameters that are unique to the American market. While it was good to hear an international opinion ultimately the formation of our governance (or decision against governance) must come from the hearts and minds of American athletes and business owners that understand that nature of our capitalist democracy. This much you probably already knew.

In my opinion we cannot expect to grow in a calculated way as a national sport if we remain unorganized. It has been invaluable for each region to define its own marketplace and practices but I believe in order to grow exponentially we must level the playing field and start getting better about transparency of business practice and research so that all can benefit where few have prospered. In each region people are blindly having to make the same mistakes and jump through hoops that older entrepreneurs have already navigated – and we have the power to change that. By each organization and region investing in a governing body that is dedicated to the preservation and innovation of our sport we ensure peer review instead of monopoly.

There is of course the American sentiment that a government was made to get in a citizen’s way but we have the power to formulate and structure any system that we want. When the Founding Fathers and the members of the Constitutional Convention met to decide secession from the British Empire they were not purely reacting to foreign oppression, they were using foreign oppression as a focusing device to ensure a future for American citizens and businesses. They did not expect to topple the British Empire but merely to ensure that the future of our nation rested within the hands of her people. We do not have the power and resources to defeat FIG if they have their mind set on putting parkour in Olympics, but we can control the growth and innovation of the American communities through spreading out the workload so many have contributed to in order to strengthen our sport nationally by investing in young entrepreneurs.

I see the culture of excellence Brandee Laird Rene Scavington and Dylan Polin have instilled in their communities and it excites me for the future generations of our movement. I look at how Justin Sheaffer and Caitlin Pontrella can organize an event and I see a young athlete learning how to host a jam or event in their own community. I listen to Alice B. Popejoy and Craig Constantine efficiently facilitate discourse and communication that could improve every business in this nation’s sport. I witness the example set by entrepreneurs like Dan Iaboni Ryan Ford and Amos Rendao emulated by the current and next generations of our sport and with a concentrated effort on all our parts I believe we can develop a system that enriches our current businesses and emboldens our other community members to contribute to the marketplace with all our support.

I am still learning my role to play in all of this but I am convinced that I can use my ability to communicate to bridge these companies and communities together. I am humbled by the opportunity to learn from each of you and I look forward to the future we will craft together together. You have all inspired me for the better part of a decade and I am dedicated to returning the favor. When I think about this sport I am filled with nothing but pride and admiration (besides chronic knee pain). Thank you for your support and love as always.

What else would you like to share?

#TheyBelieveWeAreLikeInGOT
#TheGameIsNotOverYet
#WinterIsComingButSummerIsStronger
#WeAreNotGymnastics
#FightTheFIG
#SteelMindStill

I am ADD and I have nothing against the gymnastics discipline, its practitioners and the federations that govern them.

That said, it is no longer a question of defending one branch (ADD or Parkour or Freerun) rather than another, we want to cut off our tree, and, like what has already been said in the different exchanges on this subject since the publication of the FIG, I consider that our discipline-whether it is indifferently called ADD, Freerunning or Parkour- and gymnastics, since they are two totally separate entities, do not have to be governed by the same instance. Under what pretext should they? Because some of our acrobatic techniques are inspired by those of gymnastics? It would be as unfair and incomprehensible as if other federations, other sporting disciplines, claimed their legitimacy to govern us, one under the pretext that some martial arts techniques are used to fall, the other, some Yoga techniques for our stretches, a third, some athletic techniques to improve our jumps in length … All this would have neither tail nor head …

#WeAreNotGymnasticsAsWeAreNothingElButArtDuDeplacementFreerunningParkour

For all those who have known how to believe in us and continue to do so, to believe in our practice and for those who want to believe in the exchange and sincere sharing between individuals, I thank them for their support. I rarely take a position so openly, but following the publication of the FIG projects, the confusion in the minds of many practitioners is such that I can not decently remain silent and unmoved. As a co-founder of the ADD, it is obvious that I stand alongside my brothers Chau, Laurent, Malik, Williams, to support all international and national parkour and freerunning organizations (Parkour UK, FPK and all those who have joined the movement), and all the personalities in the community like Eugene Minogue, Julie Angel, who have come out loud and clear against what could cause the end of the legitimacy of our common practice. I thank you all for your mutual support, as well as for your responsiveness. The FIG thinks perhaps to be bold and innovative? On our side, we are now much to think that it is rather a spoliation, at least. An explanation from its leaders would be more than necessary to unravel the situation.

What about their accomplices?

When some strive to remain honest and independent for the sake of the practice and well-being of their practitioners, others who claim to belong only to the parkour branch from the beginning, demonstrate today that they only go after the money, thus sparking the lust. This drift can have no other purpose than to serve the opportunists and the long-term opportunists. Personally, as a proud representative of Yamakasi that still burns in me today, I would like to state unequivocally that I have not represented the vision or the approach of Mark C., David B. and Charles P. for a very long time. Arrivism, individualism and greed stand here to try to lead the gang. It’s nice to tell them that money has never made anyone happy, they still believe it’s more comfortable to cry by car than by bike. Well ! Even if their hypothetical ethic would like us to drive in an electric car “to get things done”, we must not forget that as ecological as it is, the electric car has a limited autonomy that will require them early or later, to continue the way on foot, when we, poor conscious, we will continue in tandems from all sides. As they wish, we will have them (once again) warned. As for Mr. Watanabe, he is described in a well-known French sports journal article THE TEAM (link in comment), as being someone ambitious and whose program, I quote: “is based on the commercial development of gymnastics to increase its popularity. Secretary General of the Japanese Gymnastics Federation since 2001, he revived the discipline in his country, which had failed to distinguish at the Atlanta Games (1996) and Sydney (2000). This is a portrait we could not more explicit!

Finally, I just learned that my brother Christopher will accompany (will participate himself?) Two of the Yamak Pacific FISE next games, invited by Charles! After David, so it’s my brother’s turn to fall into the arms of the counterfeit Morpheus aka Charles the Somniferous. It makes you sleep for a while, you are happy the time of your sleep, and one day, you end up waking up, completely stripped. I would have warned you my brother.

Thank you to all those who understand us, thank you to everyone who understood us from the beginning, thank you to all those who have just opened their eyes.

Yann HNAUTRA
YAMAKASI and ADD Co-founder

What else would you like to share?

Parkour’s Hedonic Treadmill

The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

When we think about Parkour we mainly think about how to reach the goals we set for ourselves. We don’t think about is the influence others can have on us and how we view ourselves thru our own training style and accomplishments.

The reason I mention the hedonic adaptation is because in Parkour we rarely become complacent with ourselves. We are always pushing for the next big goal or challenge we see, even if it is just outside our reach we still work toward it until we can firmly grasp it. However, it is only recently I have discovered that we can fall into the trap of always feeling like we “suck” and we need to progress at a much faster rate to achieve satisfaction with ourselves and our training.

I think it’s quite normal after being in the game for 2+ years to feel like we need to constantly progress. After all, the first two years is usually the prime time we “learn the tech” and start actually feeling like we’re getting better compared to when we started. That feeling is normal and it applies to all humans, no matter what it is, we suffer from this trait of adaptation and complacency when it comes to new experiences. When we look at parkour, a sport/discipline that constantly introduces us to fear and doubt within ourselves, we are dealing with overcoming challenges daily. When we overcome challenges we previously couldn’t it is such a euphoric feeling, its one of the reasons I think we all love parkour so much. We feel so accomplished and we feel like we broke down the door that was holding us back but this feeling is short lived. It may last for the rest of the day or the next 5 minutes after a successful jump but regardless how long the feeling last, eventually we are looking for that feeling again.

We want the feel of accomplishment because it’s how we judge where we are as an athlete and as a person. We want to know we can keep achieving great things and reaping those rewards and feelings from it. Although one of the hardest things about being in this community is that there is almost no way you can avoid falling into the trap of comparing your training and accolades to that of someone else you feel is “better” and I use that term loosely. There have been times in my own training where I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t training as hard as I should be because I wasn’t progressing as fast I used to. Its only now I’ve learned that my progression is slower for two reasons. 1) I am older and now coach parkour as a job/career. Because of this I am more careful with my body as not to approach a challenge without taking careful steps to secure my safety. This is normal because as a coach, if I get hurt I can’t work and that means no money, plus it also means negative feelings will start taking over because training is also my therapy and being injured only adds to the pessimistic attitude I can exhibit if I don’t train enough. 2) As my training continues the challenges I am looking at have gotten increasingly harder. I am not doing the same kind of jumps I was when I started, which in turn means that I am getting better even if I don’t complete the jump, it is just harder to feel that sense of accomplishment when the task or goal is not achieved, only attempted. These two factors were lost on me before, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t hit the jumps that others were, especially when I had a harder time conquering the same jumps others made look so easy. Factor in the fact that most of the time these practitioners were much younger then me and I started to feel almost obsolete like I wasn’t good enough anymore.

It took almost a year and a half but I came to the conclusion I was becoming complacent in my training and my overall behavior towards life. I was comparing instead of investing in myself. I realized the reason I became upset was because I was trying to emulate what I saw others do and because of that the adaptation to my progression led me to become almost depressed and lower self worth. I was so used to the daily grind of going out and leading our weekly sessions that I didn’t realize how I made the transition from playing the game to teaching the game. I got used to having Parkour be my life for so long I almost lost that feeling of accomplishment even after smashing certain challenges.

It was only after a recent trip to Pinnacle Parkours Philadelphia gym that I rekindled that feeling and truly became okay with my style and where I was at in the world of the Parkour community. I realized that it was okay to not be the best; it was okay to compare myself but not judge myself on only my athletic ability. It was almost as this new feeling hit me and I felt alive again, I knew that my style of parkour was about conquering my own fears and doubts. I use the physical jumps I am scared of to help achieve a higher level of self-esteem. For so long I thought I was getting used to the daily grind and parkour was becoming part of that for me, and that was scary because it started to feel like all the time I invested into training and getting better was almost worthless. Like when you break up with someone after 5+ years of being together, a part of you just felt like you wasted time while the other part is trying to convince you that it wasn’t.

The hedonic treadmill is something I think we face as humans because we get complacent and we lose the sight of the original goal. I started training because I wanted to do ninja stuff and survive a zombie apocalypse, now its become more for me. It’s my job, my hobby, and it’s become my lifestyle. I’ve made countless new friends and relationships because of it and I’ve done things pre-parkour me would lose his mind over. It was okay to get complacent and feel those moments of self-doubt because that was a way to show me how to appreciate what I almost started taking for granted.

So my friends I will leave you with this, when you feel like your not achieving what you set out to do, Parkour oriented or not, do not let that overwhelm you. It is a sign from the universe that you are being tested to see if this is what you really wanted. Those who find there way back to the path will realize that there are more things to accomplish and more goals to conquer and those who don’t will find there next passion. It’s okay to get used to something, but it’s just a test to see if you can find the passion within that keeps you going.

What else would you like to share?

So, first off – open a new window in your browser, get onto youtube, and find an old Parkour video that you are in, which you feel is from a good time. It might be a sampler, a jam video, an event, whatever.

How was it? Things are different now, right? It’s not like it used to be then. I miss that.

I hear these sorts of remarks a lot from traceurs of all kinds, including a lot who are now training less, or not at all.

I want to talk about this idea of striving to keep going, keep training.???????????????

Our community as a whole, and your individual smaller communities are always changing. People come and go, jams grow and disappear, your training goes up and down. You change. And at the end of all that, there’s a much smaller number of people still out doing Parkour years later compared to the number of people that have been a part of it, or connected with it along the way. This change really seperates people. It’s not going to be like it used to be. You can’t ‘go back to training’ as you once did. That one Jam that you remember is a small part of your whole experience that you remember fondly. It’s one highlight in a long journey, which isn’t just highlights. What’s the constant in these memories?

It’s Parkour.

Parkour is still there, its still something that you can go and do. What you have to ask yourself is – is it the true idea of training Parkour, really living it, that attracts you? Or is it the memories of your initial achievements, trips with friends, conversations on a rooftop after a late night training session? These things are really important – they inform your experience of Parkour and they form part of the discipline for each person. But they change.

The most accomplished traceurs in my eyes are the ones who always find time for training. Regardless of their circumstances, commitments or priorities – there will always be Parkour in their lives. That is extremely hard to achieve I think and is one of Parkour’s greatest and most constant challenges. It’s an honest and brutal discipline, and not everyone can rise to the challenge of doing Parkour for a lifetime. At the real essence of it, is the challenge. It’s always there, if you want it. Maybe the challenge is to just go out and train for the first time in a while. Maybe it’s to stop training the same stuff and be honest about where your comfort zone lies and ask yourself if you stay in it. Whatever the challenge don’t go looking to the past – look forward. Move forward. Find what Parkour truly is for you, and just you, in each moment and then in the next – because that’s the one relationship you know can always be there:

You, and Parkour.

What else would you like to share?

All names stated have been changed and locations will not be mentioned to protect the author and their anonymity.

Alright so it’s story time.

A couple of months ago I opened Facebook to find that I had a new friend request. Now, I normally have a rule where I only accept requests from people I actually know or have met. However, I saw that this guy, let’s call him Arnold, did parkour. At the time I had been going to many different parkour events and figured it was possible I could’ve met Arnold and have completely forgotten. (I’m horrible at remembering new people). So when I saw that we had many mutual friends, I figured, “Why not?” And accepted his request.

A few days later I got a Facebook Message from Arnold. He just wanted to say hi and say how cool it was that I was a girl who trained parkour (insert facepalm here). Naturally, I decided to be nice and replied. For a while we talked about parkour and training and the conversation was pretty normal.

Things started to get mildly creepy when Arnold invited me to come visit him. He wanted me to meet his family and train with him. A part of me wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, after all, I’ve parkour-floored it with many people who I haven’t always known. Still, the guy does live on the opposite side of the globe, so I did my best to politely decline without hurting his feelings. I didn’t want to seem like a complete jerk, after all it could’ve been normal in his culture to do things like that.

And then, inevitably, Arnold asked me if I had a boyfriend. Keep in mind I now know that I have never met Arnold and he also lives in a completely different hemisphere. (AKA no way for us to even meet let alone date). I told him, no I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I was too busy with school work to focus on having a relationship.

This is when everything starts to go downhill.

Arnold proceeds to shower me with flattery saying how smart I am, how beautiful I am, how it’s such a shame I’m single and I need to find someone who appreciates finding a girl who trains parkour. (My internal feminist wanted to reach through my phone screen and give him a piece of my mind, but I refrained). I told him I appreciated him compliments but asked him if he would stop, since I 1. Was not interested in any way whatsoever, and 2. The only things he knew about me was what I was studying in school and that I trained parkour. It was at this point I was beginning to get seriously creeped out.

Arnold apologized and that was that. My school year started up again which meant that I was buried in homework, assignments, projects, and enough papers to keep me busy until Christmas. During the school year I have a habit of ignoring messages and emails that don’t seem particularly urgent. Arnold didn’t like that.

He began to tell me that he wanted to speak to me, he wanted to hear my voice. He started asking me for pictures and videos. (Naturally alarm bells are going off and I refuse to give him anything). I tried to remain as polite and distant as I could, never saying more than necessary and trying not to let on any information about my personal life. I hoped he would get the message and leave me alone. Of course I was wrong.

Then, he started using Facebook Messenger to try and call me. I never answered, of course, and he said he just wanted to speak to me. He thought my feels about him would change if we started talking. I said no. I wasn’t about to pick up the phone and talk to some random creepy guy I had met over the internet. No thank you. I’ve had enough lessons on stranger danger to know that was a colossally bad idea.

Finally, and here’s the punch line: Arnold said he wanted to tell me something. Figuring it can’t get any worse from here I tell him to go ahead.

Arnold told me he wants to marry me.

Yep.

You might want to read that line again.

Marry. Me. A girl who he has never even met. Someone who was just trying to be nice and talk about a common interest.

And he wants to marry me.

Why?

Because I fucking train parkour.

Yep.

Just let it sink in.

Because somehow that fact that I enjoy jumping on shit means that I would love to jump on his dick.

Yep.

Somehow part of me wasn’t all that surprised. And that’s pretty damn sad.

Immediately I’m on high alert, borderline panicking, because holy shit this guy is a creep and what if he tries to stalk me, what if he flies to where I live and tries to kidnap me. I barely know the guy but now I’m going back to everything I’ve said to him, trying to figure out if there’s any way he could possibly track me down. I don’t know what he does for a living. He could be involved with some illegal activity, he could be a drug dealer or a human trafficker. Do I fear for my safety? Should I contact the authorities? If I did, what would the authorities even do? What if I’m making a huge deal out of nothing? But what if I’m not?

Yes, I know that most of these fears are completely irrational but you never know what people in today’s world will do. And that’s the worst feeling in the world. Thinking that you’ve made a new friend, you share a common interest, that this person is someone you can trust, you can have a fun light hearted conversation with. And then shit like this happens. You begin to question and fear and watch over your shoulder for anything suspicious.

Of course I blocked Arnold on all my social media and I am warning my friends who have had contact with him to do the same. As someone who is somewhat paranoid like I am, I don’t want to brush this off as something insignificant. Better safe than sorry and all that shit.

My point is this: just because it’s not happening in your community, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And yes, yes, I have officially learned about the dangers of the internet and blah blah blah. And yes, I am probably never again going to accept a friend request from someone who I haven’t met before. But here’s the thing, I shouldn’t have to go through all this. No girl, who trains parkour or otherwise should have to go through this.

The amount of guys I meet in a year who want to date me simply because I “do parkour” is well into the double digits. I mean, I get it. We parkour girls are pretty bad ass. But we also put up with a lot of shit we shouldn’t have to.

I’ve been cat called and hit on and flirted with when I go out to train. I actively avoid going to local training spots alone out of fear that something will happen there. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So, there’s my story. If you take anything from it, try to learn that this shit does happen. I’m lucky enough to have found a community that doesn’t treat me any differently because I’m a girl. In fact, they push me and encourage me to be the best I can possibly be, and I am eternally grateful for that. But others aren’t so lucky. And my experience goes to show that it really can happen to anyone, even those who have an inclusive community.

Shit like this is what turns females away from parkour, and I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t as experienced as I am when it comes to dealing with sexism, I would walk away from parkour. Luckily, I’m too stubborn for that.
So please, men, keep it your pants and tell others that don’t that they can kindly fuck off. Cause if you don’t, I will. Someone has to, and if it’s not going to be you, than it’s damn well going to be me.

What else would you like to share?

An atypical week as we would like more often! And it’s up to us to create them …

Monday: I find a lot of cat kibbles in liquidation in a shop.
Tuesday: I decide to buy some to donate to the SPCA de Quebec.
Wednesday: I invite people to donate me so I can buy more pockets for the SPCA.
Thursday: Thanks to the donations of ten people, I have enough money to buy all the pockets of the store.
Friday: I will deliver the 18 pockets, totaling 144 kilograms of cat food for the SPCA de Quebec.

Each gift received made me happy, as if I were given a unique and extraordinary gift.
In fact, it was an extraordinary gift. A deep thank you to all those who have helped me to support a cause that is dear to me. I have already adopted an abandoned cat. I could not adopt them. But thanks to you, I could feed hundreds. Thank you from the heart !

It was an atypical week as we would like more often! And it’s up to us to create them …