I’d like to figure out why I’m not doing it. I’ve just been watching a buncha new parkour vids on youtube and have had a thought.
The first point I want to make is I love parkour. It doesn’t suit me, but I can see and fully appreciate how good it is and what an excellent social/healthy/free activity it is.
The second point I need to state is its too easy (this is back to my opinion btw) … Now let me just state that I’m primarily a skateboarder of 20+yrs. Skateboarding is notoriously difficult and takes many many many years to get good at it and even then you’re still picking yourself up off the floor all day long wounded and beaten in pain.
… anyways… the point I want to pick up on is imo parkour is an unstructured sport… ‘yeah, so’s skateboarding’ I hear you think(?)… not true. Whilst there’s no rules to skating or formal discipline to follow, its identity and ‘steps to progression’ are well documented and established through its long history. Walk dumbly into a busy skatepark on a sat afternoon holding a brandnew setup and you’ll soon discover a few of its unwritten rules, and you’ll realise you ‘can’t’ advance to any of the hard tricks without learning the easy ones first.
So (imo) skateboarding is a structured sport its just not written formally yet. Parkour is completely unstructured atm. Sure those french guys laid down some underlying key factors for people to follow and adhere to… but the majority of traceurs aren’t even aware of its history and essential guidelines and even those that do know frequently twist and bend those rules to their own preference (nothing wrong with that btw)
Now I know people will read this and claim there is structure, as the basics need to be learned before attempting certain moves, but people that think that, haven’t thought through what they’re considering. For Example in skateboarding you can’t pad up drop in a vertramp and land a mctwist. That’s a simple fact. Even if you’re a pro snowboarder of 20yrs you can’t do that on a board. Compare that to parkour and I just watched a parkour vid where a girl who’s never done parkour before learnt massive kongs in 20mins… better than most guys. Is she an amazing parkour prodigy athlete? no… she’s fully trained/disciplined gymnast. Likewise… traceurs who have been jumping for 12mths religiously could easily be blown away by the skills of an experienced freestyle climber in minutes. And how a roller blader could ‘out flip’ a traceur without even trying. (yes I know parkour isn’t about flips, but try telling that to most of the uneducated kids out there that choose to believe otherwise)
I think this is the element of Parkour which doesn’t agree with me. Its easy. I could train for 5yrs at it and then be blown away by someone else thats never done it before in their lives. And all because Parkour and all its free running variations is made up of so many disciplines, that the sum of its parts effectively don’t amount to very much at all.
I believe it will eventually tho… but not until traceurs push the sport to levels that are unheard of currently.
Here’s a little story for you…
Years ago I wanted to learn to play the guitar, I wanted an electric my dad said no, learn on an acoustic first, I asked what the difference is, and he told me that if you can play an acoustic beautifully, you can then play any electric beautifully… however people that play an electric beautifully, can’t necessarily play an acoustic beautifully. In guitar discipline, acoustic was and still is, ‘higher up the ladder’ than electric. This is also true for playing keyboards instead of the formal route through a piano. This is also true for the casual tricker, when the disciplined martial artist will outshine them easily.
Back to parkour… and its not up the ‘ladder’ at all in any discipline… its not even on the ladder yet. And whilst that is a lot of its appeal, its also its downfall for the time being. I say ‘downfall’ because, just like skateboarding, parkour will peak, trough and plateau for a long time (decades) before it settles to a comfortable level. And… if it does follow the path of skateboarding, I’m guessing it may actually help legalise skateboarding. I’ll quickly explain….
Parkour is a human beings right to move how they want in their environment. It would break a civil liberty to try and stop it with any laws (assuming the art is performed legally I mean). If laws are attempted to prevent parkour in any public space, then I’m certain those attempts will fail because of how joggers use the same public spaces to follow their passion perfectly legally. Basically, joggers will go nuts if a law is introduced that prevents or restricts their access to exercise healthily when and where they want. Aaaaand… if laws are attempted to ‘shut down’ parkour (which I predict will fail)… then that lines up a perfect case to legalise skateboarding in public, if no damage or trespassing is occuring. Because as many bylaws currently stand, councils have the right to place a ‘no skateboarding’ sign anywhere they want, whether skaters do damage or not. Which I’m fairly certain is a breach of human rights and a persons decision to be healthy and active in a public space. (The same bylaws will probably come under the microscope in the event of the sport getting into the olympics at any stage in the future). I’m side tracking… back to parkour…
Does this mean I’m elitist? no not at all. And I swear if was 13 again, (or a parent of a 13yr old) .. I’d be pushing to get (them) into it! As I’ve already stated here in a previous article: http://designdebris.co.uk/player/pages/words/parkour.php
Another reason why I can’t personally get into parkour, is because of the shear number of young people doing it. ‘Aha, so you’re ageist too!’ … damn right I am! Why? well probably because I’m 33yrs old and have spent most of my life hanging about in skateparks filled with people younger than me, who can’t form a decent conversation together, or have the social confidence to even start one, to save their lives! And after a large number of years, I crave to be around people my own age now… people who have lived a little and share some of the experiences that I have (I could go on, but I won’t). Plus a 33yr old man hanging about with kids on a saturday afternoon, sadly is now considered a social no-no thanks to a ridiculous amount of headline grabbing news stories.
Sure I could do it and gravitate towards the older community of traceurs and yes I could learn it solo if I wished, but for all the above reasons, I still haven’t talked myself into it.
I do also appreciate that most traceurs are experimenting themselves and discovering a lot everyday, and finding new friends and directions to take their activity in… they may well move on to gymnastics or martial arts or climbing or even skateboarding. So y’see I’m not against Parkour at all, infact let me stress once more for those with short attention spans, I love Parkour, its just not my thing… and I can’t seem to change my mind.
I’m in a similar position atm. Tricking is an combination of martial arts, breakdancing, and gymnastics, neither of which I’m disciplined to do, I’m fully aware. But I too am experimenting atm, I’m looking learning and trying things out and generally enjoying myself being active whist I select what is right for me. I’m currently making it up as I go along and train ‘unstructured’ to please myself. But I’m very aware of this, hence the reason why I’m only Tricking in a safe environment with experienced gymnastic coaches to assist when I need it, and I’ve never even attempted a ‘kick’ in the 6mths I’m being doing it.
I guess if I was to conclude this passage, then I’d do it by summing up I appreciate, understand and approve of parkour in every sense… its just not something I can ever see myself doing, but then I have a right to change my mind too… and I also have massive respect for disciplined arts, like Martial Arts and Gymnastics… and I now know that for me to attempt something seriously, I need to start it on the hardest highest rung of the ladder and follow it for as long as it takes. As I know that is the only way to master an activity purely and fully.
I’m now wondering how many traceurs also do other disciplined activities? I’d love to know.