Archives for posts with tag: philosophy

This past week, Jesse and I gave an interactive talk at The Feast. This was followed by a short demonstration and workshop lead by members of our community.  Here is the rough transcript from that talk with photos and videos that were taken during and after.  You can see more of the photos in this album here. Enjoy!

“Can we have a heart to heart for a second? Exercise can suck!  I’m sure many of you agree that getting fit and staying there can be a pretty tedious task. Running on the treadmill for hours can be mind-numbing, as can strapping into exercise machines, and lifting weights…over and over, day in and day out, all in the name of meeting some unrealistic standard of beauty…

When approached like that, yes, fitness is absurd.   When we are forced to do such repetitive and simple movements, that sometimes are so physically enjoyable, of course we just  zone out, stop paying attention, and try to just get through it.  We find ourselves counting down the minutes, the seconds, until we can leave the gym and just go home!


We miss out on all the joy movement has to offer. and to me–that’s whats absurd.

The human body was designed to move, and designed to enjoy movement. Our ancestors ran through trees, climbed over rocks, and play games. Movement was a defining part of life. And somehow over the last century we’ve redefined it as a chore–no more important than doing the dishes or taking out the trash or mowing the lawn, if you’re lucky enough to have one!

So I’m here today to change the way you think about exercise–to give you an alternative to the fancy gym memberships, expensive equipment, and ultra competitive team sports. I’m here to give you a tool that can turn the hard work of exercise in to play… and that tool is Parkour.

Parkour is a discipline focused on natural human movements.  Movements such as crawling [action] balancing [action] jumping [action] swinging [action] and vaulting [action] Beyond the movement, Parkour is a discipline of overcoming obstacles, both mental and physical.   You can be both creative and critical. You learn the difference between good risk and bad, and how to cope with the uncertainties in your life. You can begin to understand your capabilities and where your limits lie.

I’m sure at least a few of you are wondering–How can the practice of Parkour teach you these things? Well–lets take a closer look:

1. You can first practice Parkour in its safest form–by staying low to the ground and focusing on control, patience, and building an understanding of your body in space.

Jonny teaches Parkour

2.  With time, you can advance and begin setting yourself isolated challenges that are either more physically demanding, which requires a deeper understanding of your abilities, or more mentally demanding, forcing you to face fear and trust in yourself

Parkour can be mentally demanding

3. Alternatively you can utilize dynamic movements and focus either on: (a) building greater efficiency, which forces you to problem solve and quickly resolve a path over under through or (b) fluidity, which gives you space to be creative and innovative with your body.

The movement creative shows off its Parkour Skill

4. You can even just opt to practice Parkour through games, which lets you to think less on the technique and focus more on just enjoying movement.

The list goes on.  There is no right or wrong in Parkour, for utlimately you set the rules.  We have no standards of success or gold medals to win. You need only to come out and try your hardest.  Because in Parkour we celebrate effort over achievement.  It doesnt matter if you cant balance your first day or jump.  Maybe you wont be able to get up and over your second try or third.  Inevitably you will fall but you will also learn to get back up and to try again.  This is because you are not working to be better than everyone else but better than yourself.

And therein lies the first, and most important thing you need to know about Parkour, and movement in general, and that is–that there is no barrier of entry.  There is no such thing as being too old, or too weak, being too busy or not good enough!

But I dont expect you to completely believe me when I say fitness can be fun, especially after 5 short minutes. As Buckminster Fuller once said that “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them.  Instead, give them a tool the use of which will lead them to new ways of thinking.”

So, after a short demonstration by members of our community, I’d like to invite you all over to play, and, perhaps, pick up that tool that will change the way you think about fitness and yourself.

Parkour demonstration making the case for movement at #Feast2013

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“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”— Epictetus

One of the plagues that ails our movement culture today can be summed up in a few words:

“oh, I know.”
“I already learned how to do that

Every instructor has probably had these phrases, or something similar, thrown at them at least once by one of their students.  Sometimes you might hear yourself saying it as you brushed off critique from a friend.  We are so eager to be constantly learning something new that we become dismissive of revisiting lessons we’ve already heard.


We have entered an age where we are confusing familiarity with a technique or movement with true knowledge and mastery.  And, every time we become dismissive of critique, every time we say ‘I know’, we are defeating ourselves and limiting our potential.  With every ‘I know’, we declare ourselves superior to practice, we prevent the opportunity for growth, and we project ourselves as not only difficult to talk to, but difficult to train with as well.

I mean, I’ll admit it.  Learning new skills and techniques is very exciting.  It expands your language, reveals new challenges, and, without doubt, can assist in helping overcome tougher training and motivation plateaus. However, if you think you are only progressing if you are learning something new, then you will never be master of your movement, nor, most likely, are you training in a way that leads to longevity.

Movement is not a thing to be mastered in one day, one week, one year of practice.  To truly understand a movement, and to master a techniques, one is required to consistently revisit old lessons and to find new challenges within an already established vocabulary.


The other day I was teaching a few students how to jump.  Right away, the students declared that they wanted to do something different because they ‘learned how to jump last week.’   So I walked over to the rail and I asked, can you jump to this?  No reply.  Can you jump over this wall, and land quietly? Can you jump down on to that ledge… and then up on to that box?  Can you jump and land while ducking?  Can you jump with one leg?  Accurately?  Five times in a row?


Needless to say, there were no further complaints.


Often, people will say they know how to do something long before they do.  The mind often understands long before the body.  It is important to constantly remind yourself, as you train and teach others, that it is not the mind that needs to learn, but the body–and the body only learns through frequent repetition and exploration.body_brain