Today I was talking with a friend who asked me if I could teach her Parkour. It's been a while since I taught anybody any Parkour so I didn't know if I wanted to. Nevertheless, I've had the opportunity to train by myself and then be a student in a couple of classes, so I've kept my eyes and ears open and I realized I really wanted to know why she wanted to learn Parkour and maybe share with her a little bit of my experience. You know, just to give her a heads up.
When I asked her why she wanted to learn Parkour, the answer was more elaborated than I was expecting, as if she had been thinking about this for a while. "Well because it's cool and I really like how I feel free and powerful when I'm running and it just feels like something I want to do because it would make me feel so much more capable. It looks fun and like a lot of work and I want something to work towards".
I loved the fact that she can see herself feeling free by learning Parkour and that she also sees Parkour practitioners as powerful people, so I wanted to know more about what was on her mind. I wanted to know what she might have been expecting from this discipline. "And what would you like to work towards?" I asked. "Generally?" she replied, "Being strong and jump and climb and run through the city and forest. I don't have anything specific, I just want somewhere to start with it. I want it to be my new hobby".
As I've mentioned in an older post, people approach Parkour for so many different reasons, maybe as many reasons as there are practitioners. But lately I've been seeing more and more kids starting their practice without the tiniest clue about what this really is about. I'm not talking about any FR vs PK bullshit. I'm talking about the essence, about that philosophy that is getting diluted and lost faster than ever, as Blane mentioned some years ago. I thought I should give it a shot and share with her my own idea of what Parkour is for me, what it means for me and how I developed myself as a Traceur. I wasn't intending to force her to believe in anything, I just thought "hell, if I'm going to be teaching her, she better know what she will be getting into. She's free to go with anyone else if she doesn't like my vision". I forgot I've been known for being a somewhat passionate man. And so, the rambling began.
"The cool thing about Parkour", I said, "is that it is way more than jumping around; way more than learning cool ways to move your body and way more than learning how to play with whatever obstacles you have around. Parkour is about finding your physical, mental and spiritual limits, and breaking them. Every time you train, every session, every day". She remained silent so I kept going.
"Parkour is becoming a better, stronger, more agile, more focused and humble human being. Better than what you were last year, better than yesterday, better than the last jump, better than the last push up". I started breathing a little bit harder. "Parkour is the art of self improvement by learning how to deal with obstacles". She opened her eyes widely. "When you start training, and if you commit to it, you become stronger... Way stronger! Not only in your arms and legs, but stronger in your mind, in your spirit. I mean, if I can negotiate, surpass and play with any physical obstacle I find around me, what prevents me of being able to negotiate with my boss, passing my exams or being a better son, uncle and brother?".
"You start training and after a while you then realize that you're not only stronger than your old self. You are starting to be stronger, more agile, quicker of mind and more stable than the people around you. You then realize you can actually support those people. You realize that your strength becomes useful for your community. You become strong to be useful". I paused for a second, "that's our motto. And the only way to achieve it is by training. Training wisely".
"Wisely?" she asked. "Yeah," I answered "because if you are reckless or careless and you injure yourself, if you break, then there's no more stronger you. There is no more strength to share. You are not useful to your people anymore. You have to be, and you have to last. Be strong, last strong. For your own sake and for those around you. That is Parkour".
Boy I was excited, so I continued "It becomes way more than a just a hobby. It becomes a way of life. You become a Traceur, you trace your own path, you decides your own life. You smile more and you train harder. Fear becomes your friend. Pain becomes your lover. There is no lotion that can make your hands soft again because they are hard. They are strong. As hard and strong as your whole self is.
"Even if you are not jumping every day, if you keep yourself strong for you and for the people around you, if you are humble and try your hardest to be better than what you were before, then you are still training, you are still improving. You live Parkour every day".
"How about the excitement and the adrenaline? How about how cool it looks?" she asked.
"Adrenaline?" I said. "Sure, theres a lot of it! But that's just the cherry on top of a huge icecream of happiness and well being. Looks cool? Hell yeah! Feels even better. But you don't really care anymore about what people say or think about the way you move and live your life. Because you're not a stunt, you're not a clown, you're not there to entertain. You are there to train. You are there to become a better you". I paused.
Then she smiled and looked me in the eye. "When do we start?" She asked.