You can also listen to the article ‘Movement with Meaning’, which deals with an often neglected but ever so powerful side of Parkour, as podcast on Soundcloud – in case you want to hear the article when in the car – or if you’re simply and auditory learner.
Before you read on please take five minutes, grab your headphones and watch this piece of art Storror has created after their adventure to Jerusalem if you haven’t already.
Here’s roughly 10.000 pictures to help make a point. Thank you Storror.
Another Familiar Story
A teenager, bored from school, teachers and lots of other things around him, browses the internet on his quest to find meaning in life. He wouldn’t have used that term – to him it’s just ‘looking out for things in life that are slightly less boring than all the other things’.
Browser games get old quicker than playing soccer on the playground back in the days but thankfully the internet is a vast place for loads of other interesting discoveries. People from all over the world are flooding the online portals with interesting images, small cartoons, amateur web-series and an new forms of gadgets and sports every day. Russian people climb abandoned buildings surprisingly quick and others play ‘ninja’ in malls, but without ninja outfits.
‘This one looks fun!’ The teenager follows the trail of videos to finally find himself talking to some other ninjas online – they call their discipline Parkour. He asks if he can join one of the group meetings the following week and they accept.
Jumping into his old soccer-sweatpants, borrowing his dad’s running shoes and grabbing a worn-out sweater against the cold he is as prepared as he could be to meet about a dozen other equally questionably dressed guys on a winter Saturday noon.
They are welcoming and seem happy to share a passion of jumping, climbing and vaulting over stuff, with him. This is fun!
After trying a couple of ‘precision jumps’ from one curb to another he follows the group who have gathered in front of a big set of stairs. They invite him to their little game, “jumping-as-far-and-high-as-you-can”. As he takes heart, he uses all his energy, runs up and takes off one leg to land on the second highest step. He has surprised himself and the others with how far he jumped. They encourage him for another attempt and give him small hints how he can leap even further.
“You can do it!” they say and one guys positions himself close to the top of the set of stairs, “I’ll catch you in case you fall back.”
Several strenuous attempts later he finally makes it to the top step. He’s relieved by his success after he had struggled with the fear of falling or embarrassing himself. But he’s even more uplifted by the positive words of encouragement the others compliment him with for his achievement.
“Why did they cheer for me? The jump came easily to them”, the boy asks himself.
More than just movement.
As the two shorts hopefully didn’t fail to express: Parkour is about more than just movement.
It’s about more than a simple definition. And it could be so much more than an art of expression.
It could be about getting in touch with people.
What is the one factor that we almost always and undeniably neglect in our lives and in Parkour, even though we all know of its utmost importance?
As social beings, no matter the degree of extro- or introversion, we want to be accepted. We seek for support. And we yearn to be loved unconditionally. We do know about the importance of community but are often too far away from being proactive and taking responsibility. We feed of the service of others and have a difficult time to give first without expecting anything in return.
Of course so, as conditional love and conditional support are amongst the earliest things that we are taught.
“If you eat up, the sun will shine tomorrow.”
“Don’t cry in public, just look, all the people are staring.”
“Only bad kids cross the street without looking.”
“Because you’re one of the good students and finished already you can leave early for soccer practice today.”
In today’s world the best we can do is to help someone else to be the best he can be.
This is even rooted deeply in the core of Parkour – “to be strong to be useful.”
Helping each other to be the best we can be.
But we can’t be of help when we still silently expect others to take the first step. How can we ever be a positive influence in someone’s life, if we didn’t come to an understanding first that it’s us who have to lead in change?
We’re responsible for our own nature and will aspire to harness its potential once we realise what difference true community can make. But before stepping in for each other or trying to achieve absolute self-mastery, there is one thing we should face first as a community.
“Don’t close yourself to anything and think you have found the truth and understood life.
Many people open their mind through different things like music, painting, and as well Parkour.
– David Belle, A Warrior’s Journey on parkourpedia.com
We have to free ourselves from the belief that we can find the greater truth, which we are searching for, in the movement paradigm alone.
We should consider to act with care when making Parkour more well-known, publicising it to the masses without deeper understanding of what we could be communicating instead, as we might deprive ourselves from a greater purpose.
Speaking to everyone about how awesome Parkour is and telling the mass-media to broadcast that trendy new thing that everyone should know about may serve no purpose, if we keep neglecting its greatest potential,
– which is, to build real community.
“Until thought is linked with purpose, there is no intelligent accomplishment.”
– James Allen
In my first training in February 2009 I encountered a whole group of people who were mentally and physically supporting me in my goofiest efforts, despite not knowing a thing about me.
Not only did they encourage me by words, “You can do it, give it another try”, but they were right there during my first attempts, spotting me, making sure that I would keep the promise they had made.
During our later trainings as I became a more advanced mover, this fellowship changed to a foremost mental and spiritual one.
It weren’t the jumps that I needed support with, it was conditioning, proper dieting, getting through school-struggles, finding a goal in life, finding community, which I needed most help with.
If we were more eager to communicate selfless principles of helping each other out day-by-day, more people could quietly join this humble community of warm-hearted warriors, get infected and be helped to change their lives with a greater understanding of integrity, purpose, synergy and of course, family.
Urban Freeflow is the tool and excuse we use to get in touch with more practitioners and movers to be of the best help we can be.
We want to bring people together who share a common goal in adding value to this invaluable community – and make knowledge, wisdom and inspiration, which lie within and around our culture accessible for many, not for few.
As we understand a lot has to happen before we can assume that Parkour actually makes a difference in today’s world.
But the possibility that it does make a difference, that its practitioners start holding each other accountable and our role-models act with true integrity and responsibility towards helping each other is reason enough to believe that Parkour can be an uprising from within society.
That its practitioners will have each other’s backs and challenge each other not to fall for simple lies, not to give in to millions of temptations and furthermore encourage each other to build stronger and stronger characters lies within our reach.
We actually can make a difference.
But we have to start small. Start with ourselves. Pick up some books, watch some educational talks. Stop listening to peers and start listening to what our heart tells us.
It’s definitely not easy but once one stands up to help a fellow practitioner to become his best self, once one decides to commit to a friend’s true well-being, there are already two brothers in arms.
Two can commit to a half a dozen who start helping each other outside of the training ground with their resources, knowledge and unconditional support. And with just half a dozen committed characters we can build more than only Parkour-Gyms in our hometowns.
Now this is all easier said than done and many will ask themselves what to do next.
At the end of this article I will share a couple of links with Ted-Talks, books and other inspirational materials that have helped me to understand the importance of community.
Not to say that any practice is absolute, but to open our minds and hearts for compassion and truth.
This is where we can start making a difference for ourselves – to grow in character and set our own bar higher.
Some of these thoughts might seem ‘out of the ordinary’ – yet let us not make the mistake to see more in Parkour than the great physical discipline it is. Let’s rather focus on people helping people.
Fortunately, helping others is also the best way to help ourselves.
If you’re not much into reading or don’t have time to delve deeper into those topics now just lend a training-buddy an ear without judgement next time after training.
Listen not to criticise or to judge, but to understand your friend.
Apologise when you did wrong. Don’t justify your mistakes.
It’s simple things continuously done that make a difference.
We will keep supporting you in your training, your mental game and in your aspiration to become the best you by finding and creating valuable articles for our community.
Parkour can be a Movement with Meaning.
BOOK – As a Man Thinketh
(If you decide to order any of the books over Amazon, you will support our movement with a small commission. You won’t pay more than usual and we made sure to search for the cheapest editions.)