Benjamin Franklin, once wrote “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. And to that I add, delays and obstacles. These are things that one will encounter everyday, and it takes a degree of realism to expect these as well in varying degrees.
But how does one get past an obstacle that does not wish to move?
Obviously one cannot run into it head on but try and “circumvent” the matter by finding a solution, which in most cases, turn out to be the simplest of them all.
Just as this applies in “thinking”, this business of obstacles and delays also make themselves felt in the real world of which the simplest example is a “traffic jam” that you have to deal with in order to make it for that meeting at 9 AM with your boss.
Keeping this mind, David Belle, a soldier brought about the fitness routine known as “parkour” which if seems to be really off-putting (as it’s French) will show what negotiating obstacles and what parkour tricks are really all about.
Watch this chase scene from Luc Besson’s “Banlieue 13” in which David (Belle) plays the protagonist, Leïto.
But before one gets all excited about doing these parkour moves, let’s first understand the basics of “parkour”.
Also known in French as “l’art du déplacement” (English: the art of movement), the objective of this discipline is to overcome any obstacle in one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment in order to get to point B from point A as soon as possible.
Folks who practice “parkour” are known as traceur, if male, and traceuse if female. And while most of the ads that you see with folks doing parkour vaults with a lot of freerunning are male, this discipline is also being used by women to learn how to keep their balance by climbing poles and stuff like that.
But where can one practice parkour?
Oh, just about anywhere! It’s been created for the urban jungles that we have to negotiate everyday.
The Philosophy of Parkour
If one compares “parkour” to gymnastics, there are no predefined moves (known as “passements” in French) that are labeled as in gymnastics, as each obstacle in your path is classified as a “unique challenge”… and one’s ability to overcome it is dependent on the angle of approach, speed, body type and the physical make-up of the obstacle.
Interestingly, Parkour is about training the ‘bodymind’ (I like this term) to react to the obstacle with a technique that is appropriate in overcoming it. And the video will show how he ‘reacts’ to each obstacles as everything is so quick…
Incidentally, another aspect of practicing parkour effectively, from a mental point of view is to consider the fact that you are escaping or chasing someone. What David Belle also says that if you can find the shortest distance between point A to point B, you should be able to do the same from point B to A.
If the video hasn’t been obvious enough, parkour uses momentum and the redistribution of body weight in order to perform difficult or seemingly impossible body maneuvers at great speed.
Even though there aren’t any prescribed moves, jumping and landing techniques are often considered the most important, and the parkour practitioner can find these techniques resembling those of a cat.
And who doesn’t find “parkour” cool… huh? It’s freakin’ great! Especially for those blinkin’ traffic jams…