For discussion of the non-physical side of parkour.


Postby Deckard » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:37 pm

Having just recently started University, I decided to sign up for a number of sports societies that were available. These included many competitive team sports such as Rugby and basketball, as well as some other ones like general fitness and swimming. Although I'm not generally a big fan of competitive sports in a simulated scenario, I decided to join in order to meet new people, and develop skills in areas I may otherwise neglect in the course of my training. Just tonight I attended the first basketball training session, and I was suprised and shocked by a number of things.

The first thing I noticed was how you skill level dictated your importance and how much they wanted you to be there, as well as how much attention you recieved from those that had been with the team for years. Those that were playing more skill fully were encouraged more, were talked to more by the coach, and generally were treated better than those who weren't playing quite as well.
The next thing was around an hour in, the coach gave us a 'pep talk' about how we need to train hard over the coming months, because we're in a low position in the league table, and he does not want his name associated with 'a shit team'. At this point I remember thinking about how little this means to me, and how I was just there to do some cardio excercise and meet new people.
Finally, after a moderate amount of conditioning, drills and excercises, we got into a small game amongst the players that were there. Shortly after it started, people who were friendly and charming beforehand became aggressive and demanding, barking orders about formations and maneouvers. And then when someone missed what could've been "an easy basket", or when the other team scored one that could've been stopped, players became angry towards those who could've stopped it from happening. At this point I realised that I was the only one there who wasn't sinking my head into my hands every time the opposing team scored, and I found myself thinking how irrational it was that they were getting so upset about a ball falling through a metal ring. Even the people that were attending their first training sessions were swept up in this general vibe that if we did not win this "friendly" game that it would mean the end of life as we know it.

As all this was happening, I was constantly mentally comparing the attitudes I saw there to the attitudes that people at parkour training sessions generally display. People are encouraged to go at their own pace, and practitioners generally realise and accept that we are all different, and should not be compared to a single set standard. People are not judged based on their ability, and everyone usually talks in a friendly, polite manner. We offer each other support and encouragement, and everyone that's been training a while seems to consider things we talk about rationally, and take all manner of things into account.

My question is this; are the different attitudes parkour practitioners seem to demonstrate simply a result of the non-competitive nature of the discipline, or is it something much greater that helps us become more rational, enlightened human beings?
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Re: Attitudes

Postby Dave » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:27 pm

For me, the different attitude came as a result of better understanding about what I want and what I need, which I suppose for some people can be the same thing as enlightenment. I found myself in a situation where I could easily see how people's attitudes affected them and through experimenting I was then also able to observe the positive effects in myself.

I think the activity of parkour helps people learn about themselves more easily than most activities because it is a very honest activity. You can't lie to a brick wall and expect it to let you past. There is no way to cheat or circumvent the rules because the rules don't rely on any kind of subjective assessment. The laws of nature will apply to all regardless. In essence, parkour is simply a fun way of experiencing more of 'genuine life'.
Of course technically you can still lie to yourself if you want to, but it's harder to lie to others when they can see in an moment whether what you're saying is true or not, and without the ability to lie to others it's almost impossible to maintain a self-image that is different from reality.

Let's not forget that parkour at it's heart parkour is simply the activity of trying to overcome obstacles with movement, for the purpose of helping you learn to overcome all obstacles. Everything else that is rightfully connected to parkour, such as being friendly, or non-competitive, or helpful, or useful, comes as a direct result of combining the simple method (try and overcome obstacles to movement) with the simple philosophy (all obstacles can be overcome). Everything follows on from that one starting point, so really nothing comes as a result of the non-competitive nature, as that itself is simply another effect. It all comes from something much more fundamental.

One of the earliest stages is the decision to confront and try and overcome the obstacles rather than to try and ignore them.
Very quickly you start to realise that you can get past them afterall, and as training continues and this process repeats and you continue to get past the obstacles you start to become confident in your ability to get past difficulties. The confidence starts to extend out beyond mere movement into the rest of your life as you begin to recognise the similarities between different areas of your life.
One difficulty that exists in life is in achieving happiness. In our modern competitive society happiness often seems to depend on beating someone else to a prize. We all see that this kind of happiness is fleeting as every victory over another person lasts only as long as it takes someone else to triumph over you in turn, but society is believes that a better solution is unobtainable. As far as most people are concerned, life contains happiness and sadness in equal ammounts.
But for the experienced parkour practitioner 'unobtainable' doesn't exist, because they have seen many things start out as impossible and end up normal, maybe even taken for granted.

Parkour practitioners solve problems and get past the obstacles in their way. This is how you spot a parkour practitioner; it's how you define one. They find something they want and get it. And then keep going.
~ Dave

Trying to be a helping hand from NorthernParkour and the British Parkour Coaching Association
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Re: Attitudes

Postby antonbomb » Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:21 am

you have to remember in a sport you are playing to win. you can't go at your own pace and expect to win. thats one of the differences with parkour and sports.
parkour may be a way of life but life should consist of many things not just 1.
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