Author Topic: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort  (Read 20998 times)

Offline Tom Coppola

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #120 on: October 21, 2009, 11:58:25 AM »
From Encyclopedia Britannica:
Quote
Primate locomotion can be classified on behavioral grounds into four major types: vertical clinging and leaping, quadrupedalism, brachiation, and bipedalism. Within these major categories, there are a number of subtypes, and within these subtypes, there are an infinite number of variations between species and, by virtue of individual variability, within species. The differences between the four major categories lie principally in the degree to which the forelimbs and hindlimbs are used to climb, swing, jump, and run.

As noxteryn is saying, Parkour is the locomotive abilities of humans. 

Because humans are mostly bipedal, the most "efficient" use of our energy is spent walking or running depending on the situation.  However, our anatomical structure still allows us to move quadrupedally, brachiate (lache, swing, etc.), vertically cling and leap (jump, cat leap, etc), and other variations on these movements.  All of these forms of locomotion are intended to move us toward or away from something or someone. 

Flips or tricks using your environment are not natural human locomotion and therefore do not fit the goal of parkour.  You can teach a chimpanzee to perform a back flip and they also execute playful movements (resembling tricks), however these would not be considered part of a chimpanzee's locomotion.

I think the problem with the current definition ("Parkour is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one's path by adapting one's movements to the environment") is that it doesn't explicitly state the purpose of parkour.  Efficiency is a fundamental component of parkour and shouldn't be left out.  If the word "efficiency" is too vague, then maybe the definition should break it down into its different meanings: speed, safety, energy consumption, etc. 

I have a problem with the second bullet point:
"Parkour movements typically include... running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, balancing, and quadrupedal movement. Movements from other physical disciplines are often incorporated, but acrobatics or tricking alone do not constitute parkour."

I hate to split hairs, but I think everyone needs to be on the same page.  Acrobatics and tricking are not parkour at all.  Some people incorporate acrobatics and tricking in between parkour movements, some people practice them as supplementary training for parkour, and some people don't practice them at all.  Practicing acrobatics within parkour movement does not serve the overall purpose of parkour and it should be clarified in the definition.

I also think one of the bullet points should point out that it is fun activity and can be practiced by people in all age groups (not just teenagers).

Zach, what other websites did you ask for contribution to the definition?  The three other websites that I frequent most often (Overflux, PKNA, & PKGen) as far as I know were not involved in this.

I think that's all I have to contribute.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

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Offline Corndogg

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #121 on: October 21, 2009, 12:19:47 PM »
Practicing acrobatics within parkour movement does not serve the overall purpose of parkour and it should be clarified in the definition.

[...]

other websites that I frequent most often (Overflux, PKNA, & PKGen) as far as I know were not involved in this.

The Element of Tricking
http://overflux.com/parkour_plugins/content/content.php?content.62.3

Great read on one of your favorite sites ;D


Edit: Also "fun" was (hopefully) covered by "the importance of play"
« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 12:42:14 PM by Corndogg »
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Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #122 on: October 21, 2009, 12:44:15 PM »
I would disagree, Tom, in saying yes they can be. Therefore, in the apparent search to provide a perfect, all-encompassing definition, you cannot say it is not flips. The rarity of the situation in which a flip--or any movement for that matter--can be used efficiently does not mean it can be excluded explicitly or implicitly.



Well, I'm off to go train, and I bet that even if we have a different definition, my training will be just like ya'lls. :) (We can keep worrying about definitions here, but please just don't let it get in the way of what really matters... of our own training/progression and our sense of community.)
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Offline Tom Coppola

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #123 on: October 21, 2009, 01:45:20 PM »
The Element of Tricking
http://overflux.com/parkour_plugins/content/content.php?content.62.3

Great read on one of your favorite sites ;D


Edit: Also "fun" was (hopefully) covered by "the importance of play"

Interesting article, but he defines "tricking" as exploring an environment with any physical movement.  Usually in the form of applying some standardized parkour movement (or combination of them) or coming up with some novel movement based on the obstacle.  In that sense, yes "tricking" is important for parkour, however the separate discipline that combines martial arts, gymnastics, and break dancing that is known as Tricking is not a part of parkour.

"The importance of play in human life" in the definition is sufficient in expressing "fun".  I'm surprised I missed that.

I would disagree, Tom, in saying yes they can be. Therefore, in the apparent search to provide a perfect, all-encompassing definition, you cannot say it is not flips. The rarity of the situation in which a flip--or any movement for that matter--can be used efficiently does not mean it can be excluded explicitly or implicitly.



Well, I'm off to go train, and I bet that even if we have a different definition, my training will be just like ya'lls. :) (We can keep worrying about definitions here, but please just don't let it get in the way of what really matters... of our own training/progression and our sense of community.)

I have never once come across a situation in which a flip could possibly be used more efficiently in a situation than some other more basic movement, but for the sake of avoiding another thread devoted to creating ridiculous scenarios for efficient flips, I am sticking to my original argument.  Flips are not a part of natural human locomotion (also not defined by Georges Hebert or Erwan Le Corre as natural human movement) therefore they are not parkour.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #124 on: October 21, 2009, 02:42:43 PM »
The Element of Tricking
http://overflux.com/parkour_plugins/content/content.php?content.62.3

Great read on one of your favorite sites ;D


Edit: Also "fun" was (hopefully) covered by "the importance of play"

Interesting article, but he defines "tricking" as exploring an environment with any physical movement.  Usually in the form of applying some standardized parkour movement (or combination of them) or coming up with some novel movement based on the obstacle.  In that sense, yes "tricking" is important for parkour, however the separate discipline that combines martial arts, gymnastics, and break dancing that is known as Tricking is not a part of parkour.

"The importance of play in human life" in the definition is sufficient in expressing "fun".  I'm surprised I missed that.

I would disagree, Tom, in saying yes they can be. Therefore, in the apparent search to provide a perfect, all-encompassing definition, you cannot say it is not flips. The rarity of the situation in which a flip--or any movement for that matter--can be used efficiently does not mean it can be excluded explicitly or implicitly.



Well, I'm off to go train, and I bet that even if we have a different definition, my training will be just like ya'lls. :) (We can keep worrying about definitions here, but please just don't let it get in the way of what really matters... of our own training/progression and our sense of community.)

I have never once come across a situation in which a flip could possibly be used more efficiently in a situation than some other more basic movement, but for the sake of avoiding another thread devoted to creating ridiculous scenarios for efficient flips, I am sticking to my original argument.  Flips are not a part of natural human locomotion (also not defined by Georges Hebert or Erwan Le Corre as natural human movement) therefore they are not parkour.

QFT!!!

Offline Lonnie Tisdale

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #125 on: October 21, 2009, 04:03:43 PM »
I personally like the definition you've all put together. Any perceived differences from the term 'Free Running' should have no bearing on the set definition of Parkour. Now whether or not FR needs a separate definition is a whole other argument. It's not really my cup of tea but as long as a significant number of people make that distinction I don't mind tolerating it.
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Offline Dan Elric

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #126 on: October 21, 2009, 06:08:38 PM »
There's much to discuss.

Acrobatics aren't any different from rolling or vaulting.  Rolling and vaulting are not instinctive movements, they must be learned, just like acrobatics.  So how could you possibly define these as "natural" locomotion?

Even supposing parkour and freerunning are different... It isn't the movement that defines what you're doing, it would be the thought process.

Offline Tom Coppola

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #127 on: October 21, 2009, 07:04:51 PM »
There's much to discuss.

Acrobatics aren't any different from rolling or vaulting.  Rolling and vaulting are not instinctive movements, they must be learned, just like acrobatics.  So how could you possibly define these as "natural" locomotion?

Good point.  I would argue that vaulting is an "instinctive" idea that we've specialized into various technical skills.  Have you ever presented a person (without parkour experience) with an obstacle waist high?  More often than not, the person will perform a safety vault or two handed vault because it is simple and effective.  With the urban environment being generally uniform (walls, rails, etc), specialized forms of vaulting is an obvious result of the systematic practice of passing over the same obstacles.

Rolling, on the other hand, is a most certainly a learned skill, but it still fits under the banner of efficiency.  It is a movement that serves as a break fall allowing us to take larger drops and protect ourselves from unyielding surfaces.  Ultimately, rolling serves a greater purpose than acrobatics.

Even supposing parkour and freerunning are different... It isn't the movement that defines what you're doing, it would be the thought process.

Yes, but the movement will be reflected by the thought process.  There are obvious differences in the thought processes (and subsequently the movements) between those who practice parkour, those who practice freerunning, and those who combine the two. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

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Offline Paul Leon Mederos

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #128 on: October 21, 2009, 07:07:34 PM »
Noxteryn's been training for quite awhile now  :P

I think the main idea behind this definition is that it's something you can tell other people. If you were to tell someone that parkour is "the practice of systematically developing one's locomotive skills" well... they'd be lost! You'd then have to explain what locomotive mean, what you practice, how you are systematic if parkour seems random, etc etc. It's a great definition but it's not an easy-to-communicate definition.

I still don't understand why all these years people still argue about acrobatics and parkour. Acrobatics are acrobatics. If you use acrobatics to train your body, you're using acrobatics to train your body. Now I could play devil's advocate here and say that acrobatics is a systematic practice of developing my locomotive skills because I learn how to better control my body. If I use "Parkour is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one's path by adapting one's movements to the environment" then it becomes a little more difficult to justify acrobatics as parkour but still possible.

The thing about this discipline is it's liquidity. How do you classify these movements and only these movements? If you do classify them, are you sure that you're not leaving any movements out? I know for a fact that I thought I knew most ways to move... that I was pretty experienced with parkour... and then I get online and watch a video of someone halfway across the world moving in ways I would never have thought! How can I go about classifying these movements if I don't know the full extent of what is possible? I think this is the core problem with parkour... is that you have to experience the movement to understand. It's a problem of communication in getting a definition out. I'm sure somewhere, somehow, there will be someone who fundamentally KNOWS parkour, who trains and lives it, and who is also an excellent communicator.  As Belle puts it "It can be the art of flight, of the chase, of helping someone with a problem, something ordinary." Other experienced traceurs have stated that it's about knowing yourself, that it's about control, it's about courage and confidence, about challenging fear, etc etc... It's so fluid haha!!

Parkour will have a decent definition one day, that allows for it's fluidity, but until then we have to make the best of what we have and try to communicate how we feel and how we move to the general public as best as possible. APK's attempt at gathering opinions and thoughts from different communities was an attempt to find this end-all be-all definition of parkour. I feel the definition we came up with is pretty solid, but it can definitely take improvement.

As for freerunning, I'm quite sure from my experiences and discussions  that the movements of freerunning are the same (but perhaps with different intentions) as the movements  of parkour. The only difference is how you perceive those movements. Once again, open ended and liquid. I'm sure after another few years of debate and thoughtful discussion we will have all finally come to an agreement of a definition that can rightfully define both parkour and freerunning for the disciplines they are!

edit: These are just one traceur's humble opinions and I am gladly open to any criticism  :)
« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 07:14:00 PM by Leon Mederos »
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Offline Tom Coppola

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #129 on: October 21, 2009, 08:42:14 PM »
I still don't understand why all these years people still argue about acrobatics and parkour. Acrobatics are acrobatics. If you use acrobatics to train your body, you're using acrobatics to train your body.

I want to make it clear that I don't have a problem with acrobatics.  I practice acrobatics (as well as rock climbing and weight lifting :P ) as supplementary training for parkour.  The spatial awareness and body control achieved through acrobatics certainly translate well to parkour.  The problem I have is when I see videos from practitioners who are able to perform corkscrews and all sorts of wall flips, yet they can hardly execute a climb up and they call what they're doing parkour just because they threw in a couple "kong to precisions".

Now I could play devil's advocate here and say that acrobatics is a systematic practice of developing my locomotive skills because I learn how to better control my body.

The problem with saying this is that acrobatics are not locomotion.  Locomotion suggests movement that is used for travel.  Be it bipedal, quadrupedal, brachiation, or vertically clinging and leaping in primates as I mentioned above, or flying in birds and bats, or any of the several locomotive properties of a snake.  Just because you learn how to better control your body by training acrobatics doesn't mean you're systematically developing your locomotive skills (or making it easier to travel from place to place).  It means you're systematically developing your acrobatic skills.

If I use "Parkour is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one's path by adapting one's movements to the environment" then it becomes a little more difficult to justify acrobatics as parkour but still possible.

I think it makes it a lot easier to justify acrobatics in that definition.  You can "overcome obstacles" by using acrobatics and it is still considered "adapting one's movements to the environment".  This is why, in my opinion, the concept of efficiency should be either explicitly stated or broken down and weaved into the definition.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

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Offline bigninjapimp

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #130 on: October 21, 2009, 09:27:54 PM »
Tom, since when is Erwan or Hebert the ultimate authority on human biology?
Also as far as rolls being natural or not, I've often pondered that question. In the end I came to the conclusion that since we do them, they are therefore a natural human movement, and everything we do in life must be learned. You don't magicly start walking, you learn to walk by imitating other people.

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #131 on: October 21, 2009, 09:49:51 PM »
Well I'd say you'd probably figure it out on your own eventually. I have no evidence of this but it seems to make sense.

From my personal experience, you if you tell someone to get over some rail, they definitely won't lazy or two-hand vault it... they'll either step over or do some awkward roll thing. In that sense, I don't think the vaults we do are very natural movements. They certainly seem natural but from what I've seen, it's not the tendency in getting over something.

Either way, I am kinda starting to like this "locomotion" concept. Levi is right, people won't know what it means, but I don't think there is any definition short of a book that will suffice for everything. :D
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Offline Tom Coppola

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #132 on: October 21, 2009, 09:58:22 PM »
Tom, since when is Erwan or Hebert the ultimate authority on human biology?

Putting words in my mouth, Max.  I never claimed that either of them are an ultimate authority on human biology.  However, they've both extensively researched utilitarian exercise and they are both experts in their domain.  Not to mention, parkour was directly derived out of Hebert's Methode Naturelle.

Also as far as rolls being natural or not, I've often pondered that question. In the end I came to the conclusion that since we do them, they are therefore a natural human movement, and everything we do in life must be learned. You don't magicly start walking, you learn to walk by imitating other people.


Actually, humans are born with innate reflexes that are precursors to fundamental human characteristics.  One of them includes stepping (which leads to walking):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkGjOwPXsvo
Environmental influence is definitely a key aspect of learning, but you can't ignore biological factors.  :P
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

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Offline bigninjapimp

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #133 on: October 22, 2009, 06:31:33 AM »
You have a point about the walking reflex I never knew about that. But I still argue that anything a person does is a natural behavior, just because of the fact that they are doing it.
 Also as far as I know parkour never directly came from MN and that the whole idea is just a big misconception.

Offline Tom Coppola

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #134 on: October 22, 2009, 12:33:29 PM »
You have a point about the walking reflex I never knew about that. But I still argue that anything a person does is a natural behavior, just because of the fact that they are doing it.
 Also as far as I know parkour never directly came from MN and that the whole idea is just a big misconception.

Yes, everything we do is natural.  That includes acrobatics.  My point is that not all physical behavior can be considered locomotion.  I guess I was being pretty redundant in saying "natural locomotion" and limiting my concept of natural to solely locomotive abilities.  When it comes down to it, kicking a soccer ball or performing a push up or doing a back flip wouldn't be considered locomotion. 

I had some time to think about and talk to a friend about parkour today.  A learned skill, like rolling, is a culturally adaptive behavior.  For example, if someone is continually thrown by a practitioner of judo, this person will eventually learn to adapt to the situation and perform a break fall.  Martial arts were developed by systematically developing self-defense abilities.  Once a technique is discovered, the trial and error process is circumvented and the technique is passed on to subsequent generations of practitioners.  So rolling, vaulting, climb ups, etc. are adaptive behaviors in parkour culture that improve human locomotion and are passed on to future practitioners.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

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Offline Corndogg

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #135 on: October 22, 2009, 12:48:56 PM »
Cliff notes on Tom's parkour definition input:

"I know you'll get to like it if you give it a chance now,
Come on baby, do the locomotion..."


Sorry couldn't resist   :P  ;)
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Offline Dan Elric

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #136 on: October 22, 2009, 02:57:55 PM »
Good point.  I would argue that vaulting is an "instinctive" idea that we've specialized into various technical skills.  Have you ever presented a person (without parkour experience) with an obstacle waist high?  More often than not, the person will perform a safety vault or two handed vault because it is simple and effective.  With the urban environment being generally uniform (walls, rails, etc), specialized forms of vaulting is an obvious result of the systematic practice of passing over the same obstacles.

Most people would climb over the object.  Even if they safety vault, it was the process of intelligence and thought that lead the execution of the move - it was not instinctual.

Quote
Rolling, on the other hand, is a most certainly a learned skill, but it still fits under the banner of efficiency.  It is a movement that serves as a break fall allowing us to take larger drops and protect ourselves from unyielding surfaces.  Ultimately, rolling serves a greater purpose than acrobatics.

Greater purpose?  I've seen flips performed that were completely for the sake of efficient movement.  Parkour isn't necessarily about efficiency either.

Quote
Yes, but the movement will be reflected by the thought process.  There are obvious differences in the thought processes (and subsequently the movements) between those who practice parkour, those who practice freerunning, and those who combine the two. 

In practice there is not one traceur in the world who could say they do not practice both.

Offline Tom Coppola

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Re: Rewrite APK's definition of Parkour: A Collaborative Effort
« Reply #137 on: October 23, 2009, 03:53:58 PM »
Most people would climb over the object.  Even if they safety vault, it was the process of intelligence and thought that lead the execution of the move - it was not instinctual.

Sure, not many of our locomotive abilities are "instinctual".  Actually, walking is probably the only automatic locomotive process and should remain that way.  "Instinctual" is a terrible word to use when referring to humans which is why I've only used it with quotations.

I posted this earlier in the thread that might clarify your comment about rolling and vaulting:
I had some time to think about and talk to a friend about parkour today.  A learned skill, like rolling, is a culturally adaptive behavior.  For example, if someone is continually thrown by a practitioner of judo, this person will eventually learn to adapt to the situation and perform a break fall.  Martial arts were developed by systematically developing self-defense abilities.  Once a technique is discovered, the trial and error process is circumvented and the technique is passed on to subsequent generations of practitioners.  So rolling, vaulting, climb ups, etc. are adaptive behaviors in parkour culture that improve human locomotion and are passed on to future practitioners.


Greater purpose?  I've seen flips performed that were completely for the sake of efficient movement.  Parkour isn't necessarily about efficiency either.

Yes, rolling serves a greater purpose than acrobatics.  The reason rolling is one of the first skills a practitioner should learn is because safety is of primary concern.  Safety is far more important than aesthetics.  If you can't understand that rolling serves a greater purpose than acrobatics, then I'm pretty sure you and I do not practice the same discipline.  

I've spent a lot of time in this discussion because I care about parkour and its representation.  To be honest, it is a little frustrating when I read an empty argument like "Parkour isn't necessarily about efficiency either".  You haven't provided any discussion of why it isn't about efficiency or what parkour is about.

I guess perpetuating this discussion is pointless as it doesn't seem like apk is interested in refining the definition any further.  Not to mention, after last night, we have bigger problems to deal with.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfGJ-vaW0Uw

When faced with the stress of a life-threatening engagement, we don't rise to the occasion, we descend to our level of training.