Author Topic: Parkour Mind - stealing ideas from Dave @ Northern Parkour  (Read 2848 times)

Offline Gregg HIPK

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Parkour Mind - stealing ideas from Dave @ Northern Parkour
« on: February 26, 2010, 03:36:04 PM »

This is Dave. He's a parkour coach and helps run and the British Parkour Coaching Association.
He lives in Dore, Sheffield, UK a village of 7000 on the edge of the Peak District.

He's got some interesting ideas I wanted to share. Link to full article... Here's my "summary":


Parkour is a method of achieving an aim, not the aim itself. The most basic objective is to learn to move efficiently.

Separate skills combine to move efficiently:
  • physical capability,
  • knowing efficient movement techniques,
  • deciding which technique to use,
  • judging which route to take and
  • being able to overcome any unforeseen obstacles.
The first two are partly physical, the rest are mental. These aspects are connected, but develop separately from each other.

  Physical capability governs how I move. It determines which techniques I can use, how large an obstacle I can overcome and how fast I can move. To improve I need to exercise often, and as effectively as I can. I cannot rely on advice from others. Nobody can judge how my body is feeling more precisely than I can. I have to learn the principles of exercise so I can adjust my exercise routine to suit my own needs. I need to learn about everything that affects my physical development, from nutrition to stretching. My body needs to be as healthy as possible. My mind needs to identify when the body has a problem.

My physical development has led me to develop a deeper understanding of exercise theory and recognise its importance. Through changing my eating and exercise habits I have discovered what a difference it makes to how I feel and my ability to cope with physical demands of all kinds, and it has given me more energy to devote to all areas of my life. Also, recognising the need to understand exercise theory has shown me the need for research and understanding in all areas of life in order to make correct decisions. I consider my physical training to have had the least impact, however.

  Efficient movement techniques are essential. If you don’t know how to move efficiently then you can only do it by accident. Knowing techniques is not enough. I need to learn the principles and ideas behind the techniques so I can improvise when I come across new situations. I need to know the theory and then train my mind to put it into practice. My subconscious mind must see movement as purely functional to quickly make all the tiny decisions that would take my conscious mind an age to think through.

  In focussing on the functional parts of movement, my mind has come to focus on the functional aspects of life in general. I see the benefits of cutting out the things that don’t help me achieve my goals. My mind automatically evaluates every situation, every piece of information and sifts out the points that are important. I have less desire to do things that only provide enjoyment, preferring instead those things that I can enjoy while being beneficial. I’m not perfectly utilitarian and I am still tempted by things that serve no useful purpose but to a much lesser degree than I used to be and I am now convinced that they are by no means essential.

  Choosing the correct movement is the difference between getting over a wall or running straight into it. I need to know what will work. It's impossible to have experienced every situation. I need to understand the principles so I can work out the appropriate movement when I get to a situation.

  The same applies when judging which route to take. I need to understand the principles that govern what is a good route and what is a bad route. I also need to constantly re-evaluate my route as new information becomes available in case the best path changes. To do this I need to keep my destination in mind so that I am always focussed on the route.

I focus on my ultimate goal, rather than the small journeys I must make to get there. Everything I do should be done with that purpose in mind. Which choice will ultimately leave me closer to where I want to be? This affects every decision I make. Some choices may seem to help reach an immediate goal, but do not help me towards my higher goal.

  Overcoming unforeseen obstacles combines the other skills and the ability to stay focussed. If my thoughts when seeing an obstacle are, “Wow that’s going to be really hard, I’m not sure I can overcome that obstacle. Ok, how can I overcome it?”  it takes longer to overcome that obstacle than if I go straight to, “How do I overcome it?” The first parts don’t help. If I focus on the difficulty I may not even get to the part about overcoming it. I may decide it’s impossible before I’ve thought about it. To stay focussed, I need to stay positive. I need to train myself not to get disheartened when things are worse than I first thought or when things don’t go in my favour.

  If I want to be capable I need to train my mind to understand the principles unconsciously, just like my body needs to be able to perform the physical techniques without thinking. My mind affects every area of training and if I neglect it I will never improve as I would like.

  Only recently I've realised exactly where training my mind in the parkour skills was taking me. I have known all along that the ability to overcome obstacles could be applied outside of movement. David Belle talks about “the philosophy is of always going forwards…when I have a problem, in life, belief or physical obstacles.” I find I am more relaxed, less affected by difficulties, and am quicker to focus on finding a solution than I used to be. I’ve not reached the point of being relaxed and positive at all times, but I can see that I’m on the road towards that destination.

We need to learning to control both the body and mind. The two processes compliment each other. Mental control is needed to completely control of the body and bodily control is necessary for a disciplined mind. As each one is needed to progress in the other, they should be learned together.

By practicing physical control and mental discipline I have developed the means to begin to control my emotions. All three are essential to gain mastery over any one, but through parkour I am learning all three together.

The biggest influence in many decisions is my emotional state. When I am happy I am more confident and more likely to choose the path involving positive action. When I am sad I am less confident and tend to view everything negatively. This affects all of my parkour skills. If I want to reach the highest levels I need to find a way to combat the negatives and keep the positives. I need to make sure I am able to stay calm and positive as often as possible.

In Taekwon-Do a lot of time was spent learning how to relax. Only when you were relaxed could you  achieve total control of your movements. As I have been training I’ve been working on these relaxation skills all the time, trying to prepare myself before a complex technique. In order to evaluate situations and stay focussed, parkour has given me the mental discipline that I was lacking and that I need in order to be able to stay relaxed.

My ultimate goal is to be happy. When I am relaxed I am never unhappy. If you can eliminate the negative emotions only the positive ones are left. If you can remain in the state you are in while practicing parkour then you can remain free of negative emotions and be truly happy. The better I become at parkour the more practiced I become at controlling my emotions and the happier I am. Being happier and having fewer negative emotions also has side effects. I have lost the fixation on trivial things but I haven’t lost the ability to feel compassion. I feel fewer reasons not to help someone if I can now than I did before. Without directly seeking to help others I find I have become more helpful simply through my parkour training.

  This takes me back to the desire to improve oneself. Until recently I thought this was more like a pre-requisite to studying parkour and that the only way parkour helped achieve this goal was by acquiring a certain skill. Now I see that I am much closer to being the person I want to be as a result of parkour. I am better able to move, attach more importance to understanding, more concentrated on the things that matter, better able to cope with setbacks, more able to stay calm and focussed, more helpful to others and most importantly, happy. I may not a complete person but as improvements go it’s not a bad start.

« Last Edit: February 26, 2010, 10:34:59 PM by Gregg »