10th of January 2017. Parkour has finally been announced as a Sport. History has been made.
I applaud each and every person who tirelessly took on the momentous task of proactively campaigning to the public, local authorities and events to get our wonderful discipline acknowledged. we were told it couldn't be done but we have all shown that if we work hard and together, anything can be achieved.
I would like to extend my gratitude to Eugene Minogue, Sebastian Foucan and the Parkour UK Directorship / Ambassadors. If we, the community are the vessel from which this change has been made possible then they are most definitely the rudder, without whom we would be adrift.
I've loved creative movement for as long as I can remember and when Parkour & Freerunning became more public it seemed to be perfect for me. However, as time's gone on and the more practitioners I meet from different Counties, Countries and cultures, the more frustrated I became attempting to pinpoint the exact description of what Parkour and Freerunning is. I gave up trying to figure the answer out because no one appears to agree which inevitably ends in long pointless debate, sometimes ending with arguments....
"THEY'RE BOTH DIFFERENT - FREERUNNING USES FLIPS AND PARKOUR USES JUMPS"
"I'M BETTER THAN YOU, YOU CAN'T EVEN BACK FLIP"
But today I read a statement from William Belle that offers the best description for our beautiful discipline, one which I have now adopted to reflect my own.
"The story of a group of friends who met, sharing a quest and research of freedom, challenging themselves in the form of physical games, transcendence of self, exchange of ideas, thoughts and reflections about life, sharing precious and intense moments; and with the input of everyone’s different life and experience"
When we look at the literal translation of Parkour ('Par – kour') it is derived from the French word parcour, meaning journey, route or course.
I used to take the above as meaning - traveling a route or course as fluidly and efficiently as possible, and training my body to become strong, flexible and agile enough to be able to do it whilst simultaneously using my movements to express my creativity.
Now however, I can see I did not pay enough attention to the 'journey' part of that translation... My journey of learning, of growing, of meeting new people and of making new friends and sharing experiences.... I can see how many other (particularly younger) practitioners have missed that also, with so many of us arguing over and promoting who is the best at the movements, who has the most recognition in this new 'industry' and who has the correct definition of what Parkour / Freerunning is....
You can read the full article of William Belle here. I highly recommend you take the opportunity to read it. I promise it will make you reflect on what your interpretation of what Parkour is and why you train it, whether it has a positive and holistically healing impact on your life and (if you are an instructor) of that of your students.
I cherish my relationship with my students and consider them lifelong friends. I am thankful they are joining me on my journey and allowing me to join in on theirs.
Parkour - "The story of a group of friends who met, sharing a quest and research of freedom, challenging themselves in the form of physical games, transcendence of self, exchange of ideas, thoughts and reflections about life, sharing precious and intense moments; and with the input of everyone’s different life and experience"
When I reflect back on my previous annual blog posts, it always amazes me how different things are that day in comparison to the beginning of the last year. However, the one thing that hasn't changed is my end goal of running my own purpose built Movement Academy, my passion for teaching and the pure pleasure I get from training, facing my fears, pushing my own limits, both mentally and physically and watching my students develop.
Parkour acted as the main catalyst to initially help me understand how to manage my hyperactivity & my frustrations from being unable to concentrate. Parkour helped me build the positive, growth mindset which changed my life for the better and explains how I've managed to achieve so much in such a short space of time.. I hope that sharing this helps you too :)
First, because we are all different, it's important to understand how you learn. According to the VARK modalities, I am a kinesthetic and visual learner which means I can easily visualize objects, plans and outcomes in my mind's eye. I also have a good spatial sense, which gives me a good sense of direction & distance. I use my body and sense of touch to learn about the world around me & enjoy physical activities. I find it easier to think out issues, ideas and problems while I move. Training in the discipline of Parkour acted as the perfect semantic bridge for a dynamic meditative state between body and mind. In other words, my brain finds blissful focus and calmness from the creation of expressive movement and links body and mind through a universal language we call emotion (the concept is relevant whenever ordinary human activities, observations, and tasks are transferred into a computational representation. Hein, 2003).
I encourage you to find your learning style to help you understand your way of learning and understand that the only real disability is a bad attitude and a negative, fixed mindset.
So to conclude this year's blog I wish to offer my advice. In the words of Les Brown, one of my favorite public speakers - "never let a person's opinion of you define your character or reality". You, no matter what label you have been categorised under, are intelligent, you are capable of greatness, you are capable of changing your reality, & you are capable of changing the world if you desire. All you need to do is find your learning catalyst - your way and your passion... For me, it was Parkour and creative movement but for you it could be anything.
One of my biggest achievements of 2015 was to finally finish University. On top of all my other responsibilities, the whole four year process was a massive burden to my healthy lifestyle, physical fitness & positive mentality. There were plenty of times I thought I couldn't continue on.. Even my family could see how badly it was affecting me and were very supportive toward me giving up for the sake of my sanity... however, they were also supportive of me deciding to stay the course and continue to learn.
I am forever thankful for my family, more and more every day because if not for them, I wouldn't even be able to make a choice.
I'm so glad I didn't give up. University taught me more about who I really am & how to appreciate my life & family than it taught me about the business world or Sports / Events Industries. It also taught me how to independently think, research and understand the rules of this game we call life.. And as Einstein says "First we must learn the rules of the game, and then we must play better than everyone else"
We have two choices in life, the easy path and the path less travelled.. Which one will you chose?
After all, 2014 was the year that I paved the way for Coaching Best Practice in Welsh Schools & proved that elements of Parkour could be amalgamated into the Welsh Dragon Sport & PE Curriculum [teaching in over 20 Schools throughout Wales] as well as successfully directing & piloting Wales' first Mixed Movement Discipline (MMD) Competition called 'Release The Movement'. Further to that I have also & successfully ran Kinetics Academies in 3 Welsh Counties with the support of local Government... No easy feat when juggling a final year in University, running a business & taking care of 3 children [not including any relationship attempts]. Yet so far I've continued to be a success, and continued to prove to myself and everyone else what I am capable of.
Is it what I thought?
However, go onto any youth or community forum with Parkour as a topic and you may see a different picture.
My experiences throughout this year have led me to question what Parkour really is [or perhaps I should say ' has become'], as well as its culture; its community and its newly established governance. Is it all becoming more of a hindrance to the evolution of Parkour rather than a support system?
When I first entertained the idea of turning my hobby into a career I thought I knew what Parkour & Freerunning was so the debate of Parkour being a Sport or Art didn't come to my mind as becoming an issue. At first, I assumed that, much like other sports, attaining funding would be a straight forward process. Also, I had a rather naive ideal that the Parkour community would be supportive of each other [much like the Martial Arts communities I grew up with] and the new Governing Body would support those individuals who had little or no money to help get started or to build a club or career.
So what now?