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The Tao of Parkour


The Tao of Parkour

Much has been made of Bruce Lee’s enduring concept of Jeet Kune Do, across myriad different activities, art-forms, sports and disciplines. Often it is applied quite wrongly, of course, flourished with bravado in a slapdash attempt to justify some sort of unstructured and unresearched approach to training or development. Nothing could be further from what Lee intended with his concept, or indeed more removed from his own path towards personal liberation.

However, a strong and meaningful analogy can be drawn between Lee’s concept and our own discipline of parkour (As always, I use the words parkour, freerunning and art du deplacement as interchangeable terms that describe the same base activity. For simplicity’s sake I will use the word parkour throughout this article). In fact, parkour is a prime example of Jeet Kune Do (JKD) in action. To explain this, it is necessary to define first what Lee meant by the term Jeet Kune Do and how he applied it to his own training.

Jeet Kune Do, despite the existence of many schools and clubs teaching to the contrary, is not a style. It is not a system, not a collection of techniques, nor even an amalgamation of effective movements from disparate martial arts. It is not boxing mixed with Wing Chun mixed with Muay Thai. It is certainly not the simple imitation of the movements of Lee himself.

Jeet Kune Do is simply the concept of functionality. It is the stripping away of anything that does not serve one’s purpose which, in Lee’s case, was to become the best and most complete fighting man he could be. Lee applied this concept ruthlessly to his own training, and recommended others do the same, so that one is left with only what actually works, only what is directly functional in the pursuit of one’s goal.

The Paradox of Freedom

This means, almost paradoxically, that Jeet Kune Do is at once extremely liberating and extremely rigid in its approach. Liberating because it has effectively only one rule – if it works, use it – and rigid in that it excludes anything that is extraneous to its singular purpose of producing an effective end product. Anything for show, anything ‘flowery’, anything that serves only to look good and boost the ego of the practitioner – instantly discarded. Jeet Kune Do is truly a ruthless guiding principle: which is what makes it so effective, of course. Its core can be found in Lee’s four guidelines, which were:

* Absorb what is useful
* Reject what is useless
* Research from your own experience
* Add what is specifically your own creation

Parkour is much the same. Not a collection of techniques or movements, not a restricting system or tradition-laden paradigm or dogmatic training methodology, not rules-based in any way other than one: if it works, use it.

Parkour, like JKD, is a concept one applies to one’s own training. It’s not even so much a way of thinking as it is a way of learning to think about one’s movement, learning how to train in order to reach one’s own self-established goals: a stark philosophy of facing the truth of where your ability is now and seeing exactly how and what you have to do in order to reach where you want to be.

Again, this means a form of liberation that does not equate to simply doing whatever you want. That was not at all what Lee intended with JKD, quite the opposite in fact. For him, the reality of combat defined his training – so he forced himself to stare that reality squarely in the face and see exactly what he had to do to master it, whether he liked it or not, whether he wanted to do it or not. It meant hard training, continuous research, intensive self-examination and critical analysis. It required enormous discipline and attention, and a supreme effort of will and clarity of focus. Lee realised that his liberation would be a product of a great deal of hard work.

In truth then, applying the fundamental principle of JKD – or parkour – is far harder than mastering any set syllabus of movements or techniques, or sticking to a collection of pre-defined rules. Harder precisely because it puts responsibility for one’s personal growth firmly and completely on the shoulders of the individual. But this is also what makes it – or them – so very empowering.

Fighting Spirit

In parkour, as with JKD, there is no one and nothing else to blame for failing to find a solution to one’s own dilemmas. With enough commitment, drive and perseverance a way forward can always be found. If one had to identify one value as being the most central to parkour training one could confidently put forward that inner resolve, that refusal to quit or be beaten, as a strong contender.

With that mindset, the concept of JKD becomes an endlessly applicable and almost inevitably successful tool. Given time, a combination of good research, practice and review will usually lead you to the answers you seek in any chosen field. Now, of course that research and practice process can be made more or less efficient depending on a number of factors, including access to good information (through teaching, guidance, knowledge and experience of others, etc), sensible application of said information and rigorous self-discipline, but the vital component is the resolve to see the process through – the commitment to do whatever is necessary to realise one’s potential. This Lee prized above all, saying

‘Persistence, persistence, and persistence. The power can be created and maintained through daily practice – continuous effort.’

This fighting spirit, this indomitable, endlessly adaptive willpower, is the essence of both parkour and Jeet Kune Do. Capture it and one can achieve anything, for it bestows the only freedom that really matters – the ability to create yourself.

‘The void is that which stands right in the middle of this and that. The void is all-inclusive; having no opposite, there is nothing which it excludes or opposes. It is living void, because all forms come out of it, and whoever realises the void is filled with life and power and the love of all things’ – Bruce Lee, 1940-1973

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Parkour Freedom - Parkour Liberté


Parkour ”Freedom”

Is “practising Parkour” the solution to feel free in your body and your mind? Or is this quest of happiness, this discovery, this blossoming that we all have been looking for since we did our first steps on this planet?

For me, “The When” and “The How” you start the journey in Parkour cannot be dictated by somebody else and/or just be justified by a series of actions such as balancing on a railing, vaulting some walls etc... In my opinion “parkour” is something personal. Yes, you share some moments, some actions, some feelings, some knowledge, some training, some obstacles etc... But your perceptions, your expectations, your discoveries, your willingness, your rhythm... are personal and internal.

I started playing a bit more with the environment only 7 years ago, however, “my parkour”, this quest for the well-being, this continuous discovery to become stronger, this value’s learning process, this respect for yourself and for the others and this understanding of being honest with yourself started 35 years ago, as soon as I was born. My parents, my education and my different experiences in art and different sport activities that I have been involved with, for the past 30 years, were and will always be my best guide, they are my foundations to my way of approaching obstacles. In my eyes, parkour (moving in any terrain) is just another physical activity, such as football, swimming, dance etc... where I can express myself in the environment in a certain way and where I can learn more about myself. My vision, my definition, my approach of “parkour” is not necessarily the same than everyone else’s. I don’t consider it as “a way of living” or as a particular “philosophy” but: does it mean that I am wrong? Does it mean that I cannot practise, learn, develop and teach some skills to move in the surrounding safely and more efficiently? Personally, I don’t practise any sport to please the expectations of others. The way I practice and see it satisfies me. I don’t want to copy the parkour journey of somebody else...

For me parkour is another tool, like everything we can use to learn and progress. Doesn’t matter the tool I use and the way I use it, when I teach somebody, my aim is not to make him/her become me, my aim is to help to discover his/her own potential and make all my students progress. Each person is a unique whole with his/her own emotions, feelings, visions, expectations, definitions etc... Some of them are capable to learn by themselves, by the environment, by discoveries, but others need to be guided, need to be managed, need to be shown, need to be explained. It shouldn’t matter which approach is used to improve how to move in this environment. It doesn’t matter when and how you experience parkour, important is to be able to adapt without any limits and find your own way. This is what makes me feel free and eager for practising more.

Expectations and goals should never be judged, as this is different for each individual. We all start practising parkour for different reasons and with different goals. I believe every judgement, would be in contradiction with the freedom and this capability to adapt that parkour offers.

Do you really know when your” Parkour journey” started? Do you know exactly this moment when you began this relationship with yourself, with the others, and with the environment, to be able to go through “obstacles”?

Is there a one and unique true parkour?


Est-ce que “faire du parkour” est la solution pour se sentir libre dans sa tête et dans son corps? Ou est ce cette quète du Bonheur, cette découverte et cet épanouissement que nous recherchons tous à partir du moment où nous faisons nos premiers pas sur cette planête?

Pour moi, “le Quand” et “le Comment” tu commences ce voyage dans le parkour ne peut pas être dicté par quelqu’un d'autre et ne peut être justifié par une simple série d’actions comme marcher en équilibre sur une barrière, franchir des murs etc...Mon opnion est que “Parkour” est quelque chose de personnel. Oui, tu partages des moments, des actions, des sentiments, des émotions, des connaissances, des entraînements, des obstacles etc...Mais tes attentes, tes découvertes, tes vouloirs, tes rythmes... sont personnel et interne.

J’ai commencé à jouer un peu plus avec l’environnement, il y a seulement 7 ans , cependant “mon parkour”, cette recherche de bien être, cette constante découverte de devenir plus fort, cette apprentissage des valeurs, ce respect vis a vis de soi et des autres et cette compréhension à être honnête avec soi-même, je l’ai commencé il y a 35 ans, lorsque je suis venu au monde. Mes parents, mes études, mes différentes activitées artistiques et sportives que j’ai pu pratiquer ces 30 dernières années ont été et seront toujours mes meilleurs guides. Ceux sont mes bases dans ma façon d’approcher les obstacles. A mes yeux , parkour(se mouvoir sur tous les terrains)n’ est juste qu’une autre activité physique dans laquelle je peux m’exprimer d’une certain façon et je peux apprendre un peu plus à mon sujet. Ma vision, ma définition et mon approche du "parkour” n’est pas forcément la même que tout le monde. Je ne le considère pas comme “une manière de vivre” ou comme une “philosophie particulière”, mais: est-ce que cela veut dire que j’ai tord? Est-ce que cela veut dire que je n’ai pas le droit d’apprendre, de développer et d’enseigner des compétences pour pouvoir bouger en sécurité et de manière plus efficace dans l’environnement? Personnellement, je ne fait pas du sport pour satisfaire les attentes des autres. La façon dont je le pratique et je le vois, me satisfait. Je n’ai pas envi de copier sur quelqu’un d’autre cette experience du parkour.

“Parkour” est pour moi un outil comme toutes les choses que l’on utitlise pour apprendre et progresser. Peut importe l’outil que j’utilise et la façon dont je l’utilise, lorsque j’enseigne à quelqu’un, mon but n’est pas de lui/la faire devenir moi, il est de l’aider à découvrir et à développer ses propres potentiels et de faire pogresser tous mes étudiants. Chaque individu est une entité à part entière avec ses propres émotions, sentiments, visions, attentes, définitions etc...Certains ont cette faculté à apprendre par eux même, par l’environnement et par leurs découvertes mais d’autres ont besoin d’être guidé, d’être dirigé, d’être montré, d’être expliqué. Cela ne devrait pas être important laquelle de ces approches est utilisée pour progresser. Ce que je comprends du parkour, quelqu’il soit “le comment” et “le quand” il a débuté pour chacun d’entre nous, c’est: la faculté à s’adapter, et ce, sans limites, “trouver sa propre voix”. C’est ce qui fait que je me sente libre et que je sois toujours demandeur pour en faire plus.

Les motifs et les buts ne devraient jamais être jugé sachant qu’ils sont propres à chacun d’entre nous. Nous commençons tous à faire du parkour pour différentes raisons et différent objectifs. Je pense qu’etablir un jugement est en contradiction avec cette liberté et cette faculté à s’adapter que le parkour nous offre.

Est-ce que vous pouvez vraiment définir ce moment où votre “voyage dans le parkour” a commencê, le moment exact où vous avez commencé cette relation avec vous-même, avec les autres, avec l’environnemnent pour être capable de surmonter les obstacles?

Y’a t’il un seul et unique vrai parkour?

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Learning to Learn


(Originally posted on

Learning to learn, what does this mean? When a new discipline or activity catches our attention, to the point that we decide to devote a tremendous amount of our time and energy to it, instead of focusing entirely on the content do we actually question ourselves enough, if at all, about learning (i.e. the process of absorbing and making ours new skills and knowledge)? What if learning was not just a question of time and effort, but a matter of clarity and vision as well? What if learning was a skill in itself? Wouldn’t there then be a way to optimise every ounce of effort we put in the aquirement of a new technique, and therefore acheive results faster without extra effort?

In any discipline or activity, there are always those who train hard for years only to acquire mediocre results, and those who seem to fly over every difficulties in their way, is it human nature, or just a different kind of perception that one could unlock ?

This is an attempt to explore these questions...

Being in the moment: the right here right now equilibrium.

The philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote : “May one examine their own thoughts, and they will find them all focused on the past or the future. We almost never think in the present, and when we do, it is only to shed light on what to do with the future”.

We live in the present, it is our only field of action, and it is only then that we can interconnect entirely body, mind, and environment to create a sense of pure awareness; but how often do we actually do this? What Pascal wrote has never been so true: most of us have grown up and are still immersed in a world of distractions: television, cell phones, advertising, work, social activities, internet, games... the list is endless.

From birth we become accustomed to the habit of being constantly distracted, it is for most of us a normal thing that we accept and agree with entirely, our rare moments of boredom are those that we find awkward and that we will strive to fill with more mind-absorbing activities.

How is this related to learning? I had a student who was a very slow learner and had grown to accept it as part of his nature: he would make the same mistakes many times before understanding the lesson, and he would sometimes learn only to drop back into those old mistakes again. I didn’t really know how to help him until I realised something essential: that even when training his mind was constantly drifting away in thought, absorbed in the past or future, inconspicuously slipping out of the “right here right now equilibrium”.

I understood that one’s learning is clearly improved by being in constant connection with one’s present sensations.

Sensations are feedback, they tell us if what we do is right or not, they show us what we should improve on and how to do it at the condition that we pay attention to them. Repetition alone is pointless if there isn’t constant attention to what is being done, just as it is being done. Learn in real-time, be awake and aware, feel and analyse what you are doing. Trying again doesn’t mean doing again; every attempt is a new opportunity to do better, based on the knowledge and experience of past tries.

So avoid any type of distraction when you are training, let your entire self be directed towards what you are doing and all your energy, all your qualities, all that you are made of will cease to be dispersed and wasted but, instead, will work for you towards one clear goal that you have chosen, like a whole army marching in unison towards one unique target.

I took the time to explain these things to the student, letting them slowly soak in over time, and he has since then made tremendous progress and is now one of the quickest learners I have ever taught to!

Constructive criticism: the positive vision

Collecting feedback and endlessly integrating it in what you do is a major element of learning to learn, but doing so with absolute positiveness is the key principle that will create the alchemy. When we try and fail, we try harder, but if we fail again, most of us will tend to get upset or irritated, and our emotions conquer us and corrupt the positive learning mindset we were in. It is then very easy to slip into negative criticism and to start asking ouselves the wrong questions, such as “why am I so bad at this?”, or even “why can’t I ever get things right?”
The mind, in these cases, is bluntly stupid in the way it works, as it searches for a direct answer to these questions; for instance: “you’re bad at this because it’s not your thing”, or “you can never get things right because you’re not meant to be talented at this”. The answers it gives us are often conveyed on a subconscious level, and thus we unknowingly hypnotise ourselves into failure.

Therefore, one must ask themselves the right questions if one wishes to find the right answers: “How can I improve on this?”, “How can I avoid doing these mistakes?”, “What is holding me back from complete mastery?”

Condition your mind for positivity and you will get positive results. A positive vision is one that can picture a clear objective and a list of ways to reach it, regardless of what stands in the way. And any resistance in your progress, instead of being a source of frustration, will become a call for a new accomplishment, a treat of self-exploration. You won’t need to ignore your frustration, it won’t be there anymore, transformed into a new exciting feeling of challenge!

Training, as intense as it may get, is never but a game so don’t take it too seriously, even if you’re at it every day for hours, be relaxed about it, inner tension will cause outer stiffness, let it flow inside and it will flow outside. Lightness is key.

Discovering rather than manufacturing: the blossoming flower concept
“When I and my students think of strokes as being discovered rather than manufactured, they seem to learn the game much faster and without frustration.” Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis
I will humbly paraphrase this great book here.

As explained earlier, a major part of the process of learning is directly linked to how we visualise things. Manufacturing skills would imply that there is you + all that you’ve learned. Like costumes worn over each other, your skills are not connected to who you are, they are merely added to you in a very impersonal way. Progress, in this mindset, appears as having no end and worse, as being perishable...

Now, let’s talk about flowers... flowers don’t grow, they blossom: from the instant they exist as a tiny seed, they are already the future flower that they will turn into, just like a new-born baby is already in essence the future adult it will become.

They constantly express themselves as flowers and day by day, instant by instant, they become a little bit more their blossomed selves, what they were right from the start is now fully expressed and they are purely themselves.

If you visualise all your skills as being within you right from the start, on standby, waiting to be discovered and released, you will get rid of a lot of the pressure that athletes face with intense training because it means that you are simply learning to express yourself, zeroing in ever more on your true self. One could almost call it a process of enlightenment. In this case, nothing is really learnt, everything is simply revealed and therefore it is an undisociable part of you.

Progress is not an addition of bits of knowledge and skill like Lego pieces stacked on top of each other, it is only the elimination of what is keeping you from expressing your true self.

Conclusion: expanding the horizon
Throughout this article, I’ve never once mentioned parkour: the reason is that “learning to learn”, once acquired, is a skill that transcends any activity it may be applied to. One who understands it may use it in any field equally.

As a matter of fact, in order to explore a single discipline one is required to branch off continuously into other fields, as no knowledge is ever completely isolated.

A samurai once wrote about his art: “The practice cannot be confined to swordsmanship, if one limits it to that, they will not even know swordsmanship“. The same warrior added: “I have applied the lessons of my art to every other discipline I have encountered, therefore in any discipline I am my own master”. The road that leads to the mastery of one discipline will lead to the mastery of others; following one is close to following them all because, more than just the discipline, it is ourselves that we learn to explore and know through our practice. The discipline itself is never the end, but the means to a more noble, meaningful and everlasting end: our blossomed self.

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Parkour, a Journey

2010, Parkour is known all over the world ! One of my dreams came true... We can see practitioners every where, people are more and more used to see people "jumping around". The discipline is growing quickly, so quickly, and what I am trying to do is to help passing on this art to the future generations...

In contrary to the time when I met parkour, we now have tons of different techniques, moves and jumps. We have dictionaries and tutorials for every move. We are told where to put our feet in order to do a specific move, in order to clear a specific obstacle.
I can see that sometimes the first things we teach to beginners are basic vaults, or combinations. I feel that we miss something by teaching techniques at the very beginning.


Because I believe that parkour is an invitation to meet our environment and to have some reflection. When I met it, and what moved me the most, is that parkour was a big and long journey. Our daily goal at the beginning was to discover our environment, having a new way of looking at the space. We had to go from a wall, to a lampost, trough 2 fences and over a staircase, etc... Every time we were facing new obstacles, and we had to use or find some techniques to overcome it.

Today, I feel like most of the time we show parkour techniques, moves and combinations to the beginners who wanted to learn parkour.We are telling them how to pass an obstacle, we show them where to do it. I feel that we are giving all the keys and solutions before that the practitioner even knows the obstacle. Maybe if we hadn't tell them to do a speed vault onto this wall, they would have never seen this wall as an obstacle.

And in the other way, you could ask somebody to reach some place, knowing that he will have to get over a wall, then the person will have to think about how to overcome the wall, and he may find it by himself, without you, or may need your help, but at least he would know he has to learn this or that technique... And the solution will be much more meaningful.

We are not letting them finding themselves face to face with an obstacle, looking for solutions, trying some moves, falling, missing, and then maybe succeed, or asking us for help.

My point here is to remind practitioners and teachers, that parkour is basically a long journey. In this journey we may find difficulties, obstacles that we will have to overcome. You will all have the time to learn parkour techniques anyway, so it's better for you to learn it when you know why and when you will have to use it ...

Thank you for reading,


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Watch Out Below


It's not easy keeping a solar-powered watch fully charged during a British Winter. Come to think of it, it's not exactly simple in the 'Summer' here either.

Anyway, when at home my watch sits on the handle of my window, hoping to soak up any stray sunray that might be floating around on an island like this, and when I opened my window this morning, I carefully balanced the watch on top of the handle, taking extra care to make sure it wouldn't fall. It didn't. Not for a while anyway.

It was about two hours or so later that I heard my window blowing wider and a quiet clunk, followed by a few seconds of silence and finally another clunk further away.

Ah. My watch had gone for a walk.

Now I live on the first floor of a tall house and on the ground floor lives a grumpy old man who enjoys nothing better than to drink himself in to oblivion and come home in the early hours of the morning to blast Magic radio out to the street. That man, despite having a good (but untimely) taste in music would not hesitate to steal my watch, believe me.

So I did what seemed the right thing to do. I went downstairs, knocked on his door and planned to ask him for the watch from his back garden. If he refused then I'd think of something. But the old man wasn't home, of course he wasn't.. he was in the pub deciding whether to set his radio to Magic or Heart later that evening.

So there was only one thing left to do.

There's no access to the gardens from the front of these houses. There are no alleyways to get down the side and there's a big factory behind the houses that doesn't allow easy access from the rear so my only option was to climb out of my bedroom window and descend in to the garden below.

Now with the snow and ice outside thick enough to completely conceal my watch somewhere below, the first task I was faced with wasn't an easy one. The only way down was to jump from the icy window ledge, to my left, on to a shed... thing. Standing nine foot or so high, two feet below me and five foot away, it was a menacing sight and with all of the ice covering both surfaces, I did NOT want to jump on to it.

But I had to. I had to get my watch before the grumpy man came home and claimed it.


COME ON! Jump. This is what you've been doing for the past six years.. jumping from stuff, to stuff.

I jumped and landed, slipped a bit but stayed on the roof, and had done what I knew was actually one of the easier bits of this mission. I still had to get back up there.

Hanging from the shed, I dropped to a lower wall and then on to the ground. Reaching in to the watch shaped snow hole, I grabbed the watch and didn't even check to see if it was still working. Of course it was. When the bombs fall, all that will be left standing are the cockroaches.. G-Shock watches and... Yann Hnautra.

Right, so I need to get back in that window.

I climbed back up on to the shed which now I was aware was covered with three inches of snow. Turning around and looking at the jump back to the window ledge, I was suddenly aware of what was below the window ledge. Two large sliding glass doors.

Glass. Doors.


Knowing damn well that jumping from the shed and grabbing my window ledge would probably result in two Nike Darts ploughing through a plate of glass.. I was going to have to find another way. My only other option was to jump from a lower position, the lower wall I had used to climb down from earlier.

It was quite a jump to grab the window ledge and the take off was loose, icy brick. Add to that the fact I had to grab a snow-covered window ledge and somehow avoid the two glass doors.. things couldn't get much worse. Until the light came on behind the glass.

Ok, don't panic. I've seen enough movies and been on enough night missions to know that anyone inside a bright room looking out at darkness can see nada.

But he was home!

I had to get my ass out of his garden and the only way was to forget about how slippy the take off was, how icy the window ledge was, how far the jump was and how likely I was to smash his doors and shower his drunken self with shards of glass.

Taking a deep breath and counting down from five, I looked up and jumped.

It was further than I thought. I grabbed with only my left arm and turned my legs sideways, keeping them together and trying to slow them down as I aimed for the wooden panel between the glass doors. The contact was surprisingly light and I wasn't actually expecting my hand to hold the ledge, but it did.

Scrambling up on to the ledge I climbed back in my window, heart racing, and with a massive smile on my face I looked at the time on my watch and as expected, it hadn't missed a beat.

Two minutes later, Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen filled the air and I knew he was none the wiser.


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New Year, New Commitments

Naoki Jumping
It's 2010 now. A whole year ahead of us to fill great parkour experiences and training progression so I thought I'd share one of my many training commitments for the new year. I wouldn't consider these to be resolutions because resolutions tend to be very general and don't state step by step how to achieve the changes we want, where as these commitments are specific and will be easier to achieve.

"Work out what my greatest weakness is and focus on improving it"

All too often I become comfortable with a movement or standard of strength, for example cat pass precisions, and neglect it to focus on something new and exciting to only realise that suddenly what I considered to be a decent level to be falling behind in comparison to my other attributes. Of course it's more important to have a solid foundation and skill set rather than being amazing at something specific and only be able to do that one thing well. This can depend on the person and be highly subjective but this is my approach to my training.

To actually make changes I've written down what areas I feel I'm weakest in, physically and technically speaking, and decided to dedicate more time to improving these and the best approach in doing so. I also decided that every three months to reassess my weakness.

There is a second side to this and I could write a seperate blog about this but keeping it brief and cut it down to one sentence:

Sometimes the things you hate doing the most are the things you need to work on.

I noticed when I first started training my fear of heights was tremendous and being on a 2 foot raised wall would conjure the most frightening images of injuring myself however irrational they were. Looking back I realised because I was so scared of heights I never practised training at heights. Thankfully my good friends, especially Alli, eased me out of my comfort zone on many occasion and I noticed because I was so uncomfortable I didn't have the same skill level at ground level as I did at height.

So train outside of your comfort zone more often. It could be something as simple as being able to speed vault on both your left and right with the same proficiency.

So my suggestion to you is to have one new training commitment and stick with it for as long as possible. Trying as best to your ability to keep doing it for the whole year, provided it's productive and will progress your training in a manner you wish, the process is sometimes more important than the goal itself. It's okay to fall off the path you wish to walk provided you can get back on track and walk the path once more.


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Hi, have you met Parkour ?

July 1998, I come back from holidays and my brother Stephane was really into a new sport, I didn't know what it was, he didn't talk much about it... I had the opportunity to watch a video called SpeedAirMan, it was about a crazy guy who was flying around, and this guy actually lived 5 minutes driving from where I used to live ! I looked at the video, I was amazed but nothing more really.

One day, Stephane and a friend of mine, Ken, went to train with this man, David Belle. They asked me if I wanted to join them, and without knowing at all what to expect, I said yes. So here we are, in Lisses and I meet this strange man, who I don't know anything about... I stayed very quiet, and listened to everybody.
Then the session starts, we had to follow David's lead. At this time I didn't know anything about this discipline, if it had a name or anything, I was just following a man... We ended up in facing the famous cat leap at the gym staircase. David and some other people jumped. I didn't even think that it was possible for me to get there, so I wasn't scared !! For me it didn't even look like something I could reach one day...
So David helped me getting on the roof by carrying me and then we continued our journey...We finally arrived at a big grass square, after the bridge, next to the swimming pool, for those who know Lisses. It was a grass square, surrounded with rocks and trees. The idea of the game was simple : start on one rock, and finish the lap, keeping our feet off the floor...

I couldn't manage to finish the lap, even if everything looked like I could do it, I felt it was something possible. Then the session finished and I told to myself that I would come back every single day to this spot, until I could finish the lap...

It took me about 3 months to be able to finish ! During this time, I didn't think about what parkour could or couldn't be ! My only goal was to finish this single route because I knew I could do it !

When I started being more confident, I gave a try at the Dame du Lac, where I found my brother, David, and other people who would become my friends... I was the most beginner from all of them that I had my eyes wide opened and tried to learn from all these guys. In this group, there was Sebastien Goudot, Michael Ramdani, Jerome Lebret and others that had my age. So I started practising more and more with Seb and Mike, and we became very close together.

In Lisses, there was the group of the elders (David, Romain, Stephane, Cisco, etc..) and the group of the younger (Yo, Seb, Mike, Jeje). We were training apart and sometimes we heard about what one of the other group did, and we had to check it out ! Sometimes the 2 groups met and it was like : hum, let's play !

This is how I started practising parkour, this how I met it and this how I used to live it during 5 years. Every day was a different journey, which only goal was to have an encounter with my environment and share it with my friends, my parkour family.
At this time, there was only this feeling of going out, explore the environment and find ways, paths, obstacles, solutions, joy, tears, pains, falls, friends, love....

I really feel grateful for having met parkour at this period. Parkour awoke all these things I had, sleeping in my heart. Today I want to give it back to parkour, by sharing my experience and art, with any and all who would like to.



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Red pill or the Blue pill?

Naoki Jumping

Why do you do parkour? Why do you train the way you do? What do you hope to achieve? These are all very important questions that I think about not just relating to myself as a traceur but also to those I teach as a coach. In a documentary Stephane once did he spoke a little about this:

“You have to ask yourself what do you want with parkour? It’s a leisure or you want to be a real and professional athlete in it, and its totally different you really have to make the difference, to see the difference between them. It’s a leisure ok stay ground and have fun, you can have fun no problem like every sport some people practice football or tennis for just fun but if not if you really want to be professional, a real athlete like performance and everything you have to consider all the investment you have to do, and to give up yourself to reach this goal. It’s really not nothing because parkour is a very, very hard sport and physical sport so you have to think what do you want for you?”

Sometimes I feel I can see this in people, I can see those who are just there to enjoy themselves which is fine but then sometimes I can see those who want more. The signs aren’t as obvious as you may think and it has nothing to do with ability or skill level. The people that have that fire are those that are constantly pushing themselves past what is required and I’m not talking about during the easy stuff or the fun stuff but the opposite, the times when its hardest, the times when its boring, the times when every urge they have is telling them to stop and rest or just simply give up. It’s these people that have my respect and in which I see such potential to be good.

The best combination would undoubtedly be someone with natural talent who also had that drive and desire to work hard and improve but sadly this is a rare occurrence. More often than not and something which I have witnessed countless times is that people with natural talent never really push themselves to their limits instead being content with simply being level with or better than the rest of their group. And it's sad, it’s sad that they put a cap on themselves like that, that they define their own progress not on what they themselves are capable of but based on the progress of others. Sometimes I will look to push these people more, not because they did something wrong but because they have the potential to do more. But as they say “the nail that sticks up is the one that gets hammered down” and its here where I can see the difference also. Those who want to improve and learn everything they can accept advice, criticism or critique as they understand that in the long run it’s only in their best interests but then there are those who don’t take this kind of stuff well preferring instead only to hear when they are being praised or excelling in something. I see no point in this, why repeat something 10, 30, 50 times if every time you are doing it wrong or could be doing it better? All you do is reinforce your bad habits or techniques never really improving.

The devil is in the details and at the end of the day that is where the difference in people's goals is clear. It doesn't take too much skill to imitate something or copy a route/movement but to do it well, really well that is something else. It may involve changing a foot placement here or jumping off a different leg there but it adds up. However like i said for some people it's irrelevant and of little consequence to them they just want to be able to do it roughly, to appear to do it well for the most part. So again it comes down to they question, are you doing in for the moment? For now? To show off? Or are you doing it to improve?

But to each their own, live your life but just think about it and be honest with yourself “what do you want for you?”


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The Spaces Between

Naoki Jumping
Parkour, stripped down, is the use of space. It’s how we fill space, how we move through it. It’s a process. And it has often struck me when training and moving that the vast majority of that space is filled with what most would consider to be ‘unspectacular’ movement: that is, the gaps and distances that exist before, between and after the obstacles we fly over and through, around and under. The approach to a jump, the steps between vaults in combination, the landing and rolling and running again after a drop – these are where we spend most of our time, not actually engaged in the saut de bras or cat-pass that occurs so quickly and is over in a flash.

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.


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Don't Forget To Breathe...

Naoki Jumping
In the quiet of the shadows, early morning in the city as the streets sleep, the world barely notices one's passing. Quick, light footfalls and the private whisper of measured breathing are the only sounds as I run, tasting the cold, crisp air and feeling the body's warmth rise up against the chill.

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.

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Naoki Jumping
Nous sommes le 4 Avril 2008, j’entraine Annty et ma femme Agota au Château de la précision( Wandsworth ), je passe par dessus une barrière, mon pied reste coincé sur le haut de celle-ci, je tombe au ralentit en arrière. Au moment où je touche le sol, j’entends clack clack. Le résultat sera: rupture du ligament croisé antérieur du genou gauche. L’opération a eu lieu le 11 novembre 2008...Tout c’est bien passé

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:

  • DES PEURS, pourrais-je être capable d’être à nouveau physiquement actif, refaire du sport...?

  • DES DOUTES, pourrais-je continuer à vivre normalement, être un bon mari, un bon père, un frère, un fils, un ami...?

  • DES DECEPTIONS et DES SURPRISES, pourrais je pardonner à ces gens qui se disaient proche de moi et qui m’ont laissé tomber? Et pourrais je suffisamment remercier ceux dont je ne m’attendais pas forcément qui m’ont tendu la main avec plaisir...

  • DES DOULEURS, pourrais-je oublier? La douleur physique s’estompe avec le temps, elle n’est rien comparée à la douleur morale. Cela fait beaucoup plus mal de se rendre compte des vraix intentions de certaines personnes à ton éguard ET decouvrir qu’ils seront là pour toi seulement lorsque tu as 100% à donner mais lorsque tu es un peu en dedans et que tu aurais le plus besoin de support , ils ne serons jamais là pour toi...

  • DES RENCONTRES pourrais-je etre plus courageux? J’ai fait la rencontre de Drake, cet ado qui se bat contre le cancer et qui a été pour moi une source d’inspiration et de courage.

  • DES PENSEES POSITIVES, pourrais-je être plus heureux? Le Samedi 9 aout 2008, la célébration religieuse en Roumanie de notre marriage avec 250 personnes venant de 15 pays différents, quel Bonheur!

  • DES ENERGIES RETROUVEES, pourrais-je être plus conscient de mes forces et de leurs origines maintenant? C’est un réconfort de savoir vraiment d’où l’on vient, qui l’on est et où l’on veut aller. Je ne laisserai plus jamais personne décider pour moi ce qui est bon pour, ma famille, mon sport, ma carrière, ma vie future...

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 “:-)


(English Translation)

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:

  • SOME FEARS, will I be able to be physically active again, to do sport again...?

  • SOME DOUBTS, will I be able to carry on living normally, be a good husband, a good dad, a brother, a son, a friend...?

  • SOME DISAPPOINTMENTS AND SURPRISES, will I be able to forgive all those people who pretended being my close friends but they let me down? And will I be able to thank enough the ones that I did not expect to support me but they did with pleasure?

  • SOME PAIN, will I be able to forget? The physical pain fades with time but it’s nothing compared to the emotional pain. It is more painful to see the real intention of some people AND realise that they are only there for you when you give 100% but not when you are down and you need them the most.

  • SOME ACQUAINTANCES will I be able to be brave? I met this teenager, Drake, who is fighting against cancer. For me he is a real source of inspiration and courage.

  • SOME POSITIVES THOUGHTS, will I be able to be happier? On Saturday 9thAugust 2008, the blessing ceremony of our wedding in Romania with 250 people from 15 different countries, oh happy days... !

  • SOME REFOUND ENERGIES will I be able to be more conscious of my force and where it comes from now? It’s such a comfort to know where we come from, who we are and where we want to go. I will never again let anybody decide what is good for my family, my sport, my career, my future life etc...
    Life is not always “a quiet long river” BUT it’s life. There are no good or bad experiences, there are only experiences and we learn every day how to face them. What does not kill you make you stronger...

My lesson
“ 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”:-)

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Gambatte Naoki!!!!!

Naoki Jumping
I originally had a different post for this month and may end up putting that one up in a few days also but for now I just wanted to make a big shout out for a friend of mine who was recently injured, Naoki Ishiyama.

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 ( 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!

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The Weekend Wake Up Class

Hanging around
What was I letting myself in for? There I was, committing to teaching on a Sunday morning, indefinitely.. with a British winter on the way. Who would seriously turn up to these classes? Surely it will just be me and Andy standing there on a rainy Sunday morning waiting for.. oh wait. Lots of people!

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.

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Empty Elephant

Kid on wall
The housing estates at Elephant and Castle have been a favourite training location for London’s traceurs for several years. During its early stages, Parkour in the UK was often focused in city centres, both in training and in media representation. In my experience, it’s not that Parkour ever left the housing estates but perhaps got temporarily distracted by the shiny city, before realising that the best terrain is residential, not commercial. Better obstacles, less private property, fewer police, no security guards, and many more playgrounds.

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.


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