I talked to American Parkour Tribe Athlete and Mstreet Athlete Sam Blattner prior to American Parkour’s Beast Coast 2016. At the surface Sam seems like the traditional power guy with a narrow focus, going for speed runs and fast strides, but in the end we learn his breadth as an individual.
How old are you and how long have you practicing Parkour also what is your athletic background both before and during? Shit, also tell us some facts about your self non-parkour related, aspirations and what not.
I am twenty years old and I have been practicing Parkour for 6 years. Before I began Parkour, I played most sports, but had a particular passion for soccer, playing both in school as well as on competitive travel teams. Aside from Parkour, I have a general interest in strength and fitness.
“I believe that Parkour is merely one aspect of being a good mover.”
In addition to training Parkour , I have done many years of martial arts and weight lifting. I love to think that I am training to be a well-rounded athlete, prepared for any situation that may be thrown my way.
Although, it is important to remember that these activities are fun in themselves!
Aside from athletic endeavors, I am a rising senior at Georgetown University majoring in Mathematics and Economics. My career goals entail a PhD in Economics. However,
“I have made it clear to myself and my friends that I do not want to spend my entire life pursuing one activity”
I want many types of jobs, or at least lots of hobbies on the side.
Who did you train primarily with- I know you’re from the Silver Spring area so you had your own small community going on? Or did you train mainly alone? Do you think you hit a good balance of doing both? What was it like having Parkour been a part of your general growth through your youth.
These guys have been with me from the beginning through my biggest achievements as well as my greatest injuries and set backs. They are not only major figures in my training, but also in life outside of Parkour. I wouldn’t be who I am without them for sure.
Other tremendously important figures in my Parkour training have been Tony Cephas, Knox Mannino, Mark Toorock, Travis Graves, my Tribe teammates, and the entire American Parkour family. Again, these folks are people I would consider friends outside of Parkour as well. There are many other notable characters that I could write a ton about, but don’t have room. I am just as grateful for those individuals.
Parkour has helped me phenomenally in numerous aspects of life. Here, I’d like to highlight one that has helped me out a lot recently: fear.
“To progress at a healthy rate in Parkour, you must have the proper amount of fear. With no fear, you can die.”
With too much fear, you never push yourself. To acquire the “right” amount of fear in training requires that you be ok with taking calculated risks and failing. If you don’t fail, then you are either divine, or you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.
This attitude towards fear and failure is a skill in itself and, just as any other technique, becomes habit through training. It is a habit that lends itself to life outside of Parkour in that it gives me confidence in the increasingly uncertain times of my early twenties.
Your definitely a speed course guy, basic efficient fast movement seems to be your game. How did you develop this style? And I know people want know how you tailored your precision to such a huge degree for large jumps. Also who do you look up to?
I have always loved to go fast. I think this style just fit my preferences most.
“However, there is a common misconception that speed/power practitioners have a lower interest in creativity. I think this belief is misguided; in fact, speed and power are just mediums through which I express my creativity.”
My training mostly involves finding interesting challenges and building cool runs. I rarely go out to train with the intention of training my speed and power. I will be giving a seminar at Beast Coast about this idea exactly.
The individuals who inspire my Parkour training have been my main training partners, as well as guys like Max Henry and Dylan Baker who I think I have had great conversations with more than anything else.
“But my Parkour has been inspired just as much by dancers, weight lifters, and even classical pianists. I like to find inspiration everywhere I go.”
With the Fast Contest coming up how do you think you’re gonna do? What competitions have you done in the past of this style. What are your weaknesses you think in past competitions, how did you address them in your training ? There seems to be some heavy hitters at the competition this year. You think this is just gonna motivate you further?
I have competed in competitions at Apex Movement, WFPF’s GCA competition, and APK’s Fast Contest from previous years. Honestly, I would have liked to compete in many more competitions, like in Vancouver, but often school has come in the way. I think that my biggest weakness has been my endurance. To address that weakness, I began putting in work on the track, and that helped a lot at last year’s Fast Contest.
“There are a lot of heavy hitters at this year’s competition, but there were at last year’s competition as well. In the end, I just care to have fun and make friends. The competition is not so important for me.”
Unfortunately, my participation in this year’s Fast Contest is uncertain. I was just on a trip in Australia and I slipped on a wet rock surface hitting my head on the ground. Thankfully, my right knee, forearm, and camera took almost the entire blow, but my knee may not be ready for competition. We’ll find out tomorrow I guess!
“I am sure I will compete in some more competitions. To be honest, competitions are not on my mind when I think about Parkour. They are exciting, eye-opening, for sure, but not a reason that I do Parkour.”
Sam, Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!
Here’s what we’ve learned from Sam.
- Sam attributes a good deal of his success in Parkour through his friends who shared the journey with him. Find some friends that share that same passion and will push you further as an individual.
- Sam believes having a healthy dose of fear in one’s training is what truly progresses you as an athlete. Find a challenge that makes you fight that fear. For more fear fighting tips check out our article: “Is it possible to eliminate fear in Parkour – part 1”from Sam’s friend Dylan Baker.
- We learned that power guys like Sam are totally into more creative movements, Sam uses his power as a medium to further push the limits of his creativity.
- Gain inspiration from outside of Parkour, Sam takes inspiration from dancers to weightlifters.
- Competitions are one way to challenge yourself and make new friends. Take a healthy approach to competition.