Long ago I began to think that the essence of parkour actually happens between the application of the ‘techniques’ themselves; in the spaces between. It’s the use of those spaces that makes the difference between good parkour and simply good stunts or tricks. A balanced and well paced run-up, for example, makes a good jump happen; efficient and dynamic steps after a landing maintain momentum going into the next movement; coming out of a roll with balance and stability provides the ability to flow seamlessly on towards the next set of challenges. For me the parkour happens in those spaces, in that larger movement that contains the individual techniques. And it’s often neglected.
I look at those techniques – the difficult jumps, the tricky landings, the dynamic vaults – as equivalent to peak experiences in life: they are what we train for and strive for, but in truth they come and go quite quickly and, in isolation, mean very little. Only in context do they have a point. That context is constituted by everything that precedes and succeeds those peak moments: the movements are given meaning by everything that comes before and after them. The spaces between.
The real quality of our movement, as of our lives, is held in the way we deport ourselves in those larger and less obviously glorious spaces. Who are we when not overcoming a great physical challenge or achieving some stupendous athletic feat? Who are we when not enduring a rigorous test of the mind or pushing ourselves to our limits? Who are we in those spaces between, in our daily living, our simple movement between jumps? Who are we in every moment, not just the ones that require our focus and presence in its entirety?
It seems to me that that is the true test of our character, just as it is the true test of our movement. To rise to an immediate and threatening challenge is something most of us will naturally do, it’s probably part of our nature as those who seek to uncover our potential and squeeze every drop out of it. But how well do we maintain those virtues, that inner strength, throughout the days when we are not engaged in such life-and-death moments? Do we still act with the same immediacy of thought? Do we still remember to use our fear and not be used by it? Do we carry that self-discipline and self-awareness we have in training on into the rest of our lives? If not, why not?
Parkour, like all great practices, is an art of living. It is not something you do for an hour or two and then forget or put aside. The point of these arts is that they reveal aspects of ourselves that we strive to hold onto, they uncover and polish something quite pure and bright within us: what a loss to then leave that shining thing on the training ground and live out the rest of one’s day in relative darkness.
Surely the point is, when we discover just what we can be, to then let that knowledge and that practise infuse all parts of our life, so that we can begin to take on more permanently that concentrated ‘us’ we find in our peak experiences. And that can only be done in the quiet stretches of our days, when nothing very special seems to be going on and our character is tested in more routine, but no less significant, ways. It can only be done in the spaces between.
I love this. It's a time of immeasurable solitude; just you and the new day, and the frosted, naked city. There is an inner silence to match the outer, nothing but the movement, the breathing, the focus on each step. It's timeless. Endless. No matter what is going on in one's life, whatever challenges and trials exist to be met and overcome, there is always this discipline of the body to return to. An anchor. An old friend. A path with no conclusion, just there - waiting for you to step out and head a little further along it.
It's a path often shared, and such times are a real pleasure and bring their own reward. But in the end it's a personal journey and there is nothing quite like the vast aloneness of such quiet passing through the world, leaving no trace and wanting for none. You expand to fill that space, awareness stretches and merges with your world, the sights, sounds, smells and feel of it. Gradually you fade into it too. And what is left is the body, the breath, the blood, the movement.
Without fail the greatest pleasures in life are the simplest. They are primordial, pure, made of what is and what you brought with you into the world, no more than that. And it's enough. Always enough. These things just are. Just life, just seeing such mornings and being able to flow through them and on into the awakening day. There's a stillness and a calmness in it, a sense of ground. The world and daily life can rage, swirl and shout as much as it wants - this silence endures, lives. Waits. For us to find it again. And when we do it passes no judgement if we have neglected it for a while.
So on I run, moving free and unnoticed, and the world is mine alone for an endless moment. This path, with its distance, its time, its terrain, feeds out behind me and disappears as soon as I have passed. Until only I am left. And then I too am gone. Lungs draw air, a heart pumps blood, muscles pulse and movement happens.
And it's enough.
By Forrest | posted on 6 October 2009 | 6 comments
Le dimanche 13 Avril 2008, je suis gentiment allongé sur mon sofa quand le téléphone sonne, après quelques minutes de conversations, je me lève pour chercher une info sur mon ordi lorsque que je sens comme un étourdissement. Je n’arrive plus à fixer l’image d’Agota et ma façon de parler est un peu trouble. Inquiète, ma femme appelle les urgences. 10 minutes plus tard les infirmiers sont là et me font différents tests. Ils m’emmènent alors à l’hospital où je fait des examens medicaux plus approfondis IRM, CT scan... Le résultat sera: un petit AVC dans la partie arrière de mon cerveau. Le docteur me dit en souriant” Vous avez eu de la chance, vous n’êtes pas mort et rien n’a été endommagé que ce soit sur le plan physique et moteur ou sur le plan psychologique, vous n’aurez aucune paralisie mais nous devons vous garder ici pour faire tous les tests nécessaires. Ils m’ont découvert un souffle au Coeur, c’est peut être une des causes de ce qui est arrivé mais rien n’a été prouvé.Après 10 jours passé à l’hospital, le 23 avril 2008, je me suis fait opérer du Coeur pour fixer ce souffle.
Durant tout ce temps passé à l’hospital pour mon cerveau, mon Coeur et mon genou, j’ai du faire face à:
L a vie n’est pas toujours “un long fleuve tranquille” MAIS c’est la vie. Il n’y a pas de bonnes ou mauvaises expèriences, il n’y a que des expèriences et nous apprenons tous les jours à y faire face. Ce qui ne tue pas rend plus fort...
Ma leçon: “Tu ne pourras jamais réellemment t’épanouir dans la vie et être vrai avec les autres si tu n’est pas capable d’être honnête avec toi même? Ne jamais abandonner, ne jamais perdre espoir et ne jamais laisser les autres ou le contexte te voler ton sourir mais apprendre à relativiser sont pour moi des règles d’or.
Mes parents m’ont toujours dit:“Après la pluie vient toujours le beau temps, même si cela peut prendre du temps “:-)
2008 THE BIGGEST LESSON
It is the 4th April 2008, I’m coaching Annty and my wife Agota at the precision’s castle (Wandsworth), I go above a railing, my foot stays stuck on the top of the railing, I fall backwards in slow motion. As soon as I touch the floor I hear clack clack. The result is my anterior crucial ligament in my left knee is torn. The operation is scheduled for 11th of November 2008... Everything went well.
It is Sunday 13th April 2008, I’m gently laying on my sofa when the phone rings, after a few minutes of conversation, I stand up to check some information on my computer when I start feeling dizzy, I can’t fix anymore Agota’s image and my way of talking is a bit slurred . My wife is worried, she calls 999. Ten minutes later the ambulance arrives, they do tests to identify what is wrong. They drive me to the hospital where I go through loads of further medical tests such as MRI scan, CT scan etc... The result is: a tiny stroke in the back part of my brain. The surgeon says with a smile:”You were lucky, you’re not dead and nothing has been damaged in your body and your brain. You won’t be paralysed nor have any other damage but we have to keep you here to do all the necessary tests. They find a hole in my heart, it could be one of the reasons for the stroke but nothing has been proved. After staying 10 days at the hospital, I had a heart surgery to fix the hole.
The entire time I spent at the hospital regarding my brain, my heart and my knee, I had to face:
“ You will never really be able to blossom in life and be real with the others if you’re not capable to be honest with yourself. Never give up, never lose hope and never let somebody else or a context steal your smile but learn to put things into perspective.” All these are some golden rules for me.
My parents said:” after the rain comes always sunshine” even though sometimes it can take a while”:-)
For those of you who are not aware Naoki is a Japanese practioner who has spent a great deal of time training both here in London with pk gen and also in France with majestic force as well as everywhere and anywhere else he finds himself. As I’m sure most of you reading this will already be aware of the situation he faces himself in I won’t go into too much detail here suffice to say he faces some challenging times ahead but I am completely confident that he will more than rise to surpass them as that is the kind of person he is. Without a doubt one of the friendliest and nicest guys I have had the pleasure of meeting as well as a great tracuer.
But for anyone who does not know I ask that you check out (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=125726156594) and lend you support. It means so much to him and is a great comfort to know that he is in the thoughts of so many people who wish him a speedy recovery. Even if you don’t know him personally or have never met him before I ask that you show him your support during this time! Already the response from the community has been brilliant and it’s a real comfort to know and be a part of such a good and strong spirit, which is not just here for him but here for us all!
So it seems the weekend class on a Sunday has been a great success so far with the class numbers growing by the week and with a slightly longer class of two hours, it gives us plenty of time to train and kick start our Sundays with a healthy dose of Parkour. Already we've completed the cycle of locations and this coming Sunday we're heading back to Earlsfield for more of the same!
With an emphasis on improving fitness and basic techniques but aimed at all levels, the weekend class is a great opportunity to train if you find yourself too busy in the week with work or educational commitments. Veterans and beginners, boys and girls alike are welcome and will be challenged respectively.
Last Sunday saw us training at a park near Bethnal Green tube station and as usual we started the morning with a warm up and a 15-20 minute run.
Next up we worked on a route consisting first of a tricky little jump, landing with either one foot or two, followed by some balance and a precision down to a lower wall. After Andy and I were sure everyone had improved and had helped those who needed some guidance, we decided to move on to some off-ground traversing challenges and climbing drills.
With forearms burning we moved immediately on to training some wall runs, where those who were new to Parkour had a chance to work on the technique and the others were encouraged to improve their speed and control throughout the motions. Training techniques like this is always more interesting after the same muscles have been worked beforehand and this instance was no different.
With arms growing tired we switched to some plyometric leg training in the form of dynamic jumps over a series of hurdles. With 6-7 hurdles in a row, those who had good timing could jump over one and immediately bounce straight over the next, continuing until the end. Drills like this are a great way to build leg power and develop timing.
Finally we moved on to some lumbar exercises with two rails before stretching and cooling off in the Sunday afternoon sunshine.
Thanks to all who came along and continue to make Sunday mornings worth waking up for!
See you all at the next class.
Residential housing has often been experimental, and mistakes were made during the 60s and 70s as cities expanded rapidly and populations grew, becoming increasingly dense. What was once regarded as visionary is, a few decades later, regarded as an unpractical eyesore that compounds society’s ills. Many were hastily constructed – some even collapsed – and it’s ith hindsight that the disadvantages of these Le Corbusier-inspired housing projects are fully understood.
A bit of Googling will teach you that the Aylesbury and Heygate estates at Elephant and Castle are due for demolition, and have been since 2004. A huge regeneration project has been dogged by seemingly endless delays and has created something quite surreal: near emptiness.
There are a handful of enormous blocks, each up to eleven storeys in height, each with a mere handful of occupants. For the most part, residents have been relocated (more than a thousand), but this is inevitably a problematic process; some have no desire to move, some refuse the suitability of their new homes, some claim to have been harassed and intimidated by the team attempting to rehouse them
Being virtually empty, there is no self-policing through the vigilance of its own residents. As a result, patrols are sent around in an attempt to keep gangs, drug addicts, alcoholics and the homeless at bay. A team of litter pickers visit daily, collecting the rubbish left behind by the random collection of visitors and the occasional resident dumping unwanted, bulky belongings as they move elsewhere.
Metal panels cover every empty flat, and the floors that are completely empty are sealed off with more metal fencing, keeping squatters out. (London is a haven for squatters due to some strange quirks in English law.) Each piece of metal is welded into place to prevent it from being unbolted and stolen. The expense must be phenomenal.
For Parkour practitioners wishing to train there, it’s quite peaceful, if a little strange. A few remaining residents can be found passing by and for them, Parkour is a familiar sight, to the point that local children create miniature versions of the movements amongst the walkways.
This gallery of images is selected from what I took during a morning spent wandering around the estate. There are a couple of captions giving a little more information. If you’re interested in finding out more, I suggest visiting:
When the demolition will finally take place is anyone’s guess, but if you want to visit one of London’s best training locations, it might be an idea to do it sooner rather than later.