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Messages - Alissa J. Bratz

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Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Organized Parkour
« on: May 13, 2007, 09:01:32 PM »
Speaking as a high school teacher, your best bet is to train away from school for a sufficient amount of time until you are relatively competent in your training and skills; and I'm talking about the fundamentals here: rolls, landings, stamina, etc; NOT big drops, flips, et al. Also, in the meantime you should do your homework and present a solid case to your administration before affiliating your club with your school:

1. Find out what the school and district policies are for starting new clubs. Be sure that your intended parkour club is in line with these policies.

2. Find out what the school and district policies are for intramural sports. My guess is that for most school districts, a parkour club would fall under this category since it is more physically active than, say, the French Club (unless you're one of my students. :P) , but is not covered under your district's athletic conference (like basketball or football would be). Be sure your intended parkour club is in line with these policies.

3. You will likely need to have an advisor. Talk to some teachers who you think would be open-minded to it and ask them if they would be interested in being the club advisor. He or she will be able to help you navigate the bureaucracy of starting a new club.

4. Be prepared to address your administration's concerns regarding injury liability and potential lawsuit. Most schools should have this sort of thing covered under the insurance policy they use for athletics and other extracurriculars, but they will likely be wary since parkour is an unknown for them. You have to be prepared to make a case that parkour is a safe athletic activity and that you and your club have mechanisms in place to ensure that the members will be responsible while on school grounds. Your teacher advisor should be able to help with this. It may be helpful to study the ins and outs of your school's insurance policies and liabilities to be prepared to address any concerns.

5. Be aware that you may have to go before the school board to propose your club. It depends on your school district's policies. Be respectful and professional in your presentation. Wear a tie if you have to. Make it clear that you are serious and that you are a responsible young adult. It will go a long way.

Until you have approval from the powers that be to go ahead with your club, do NOT practice on school grounds. This is a case where you have to prove to them that you are a responsible person before they will give you an inch. Sneaking around on your school's security staff will only hurt your case.

Lastly, some general advice: I have found that it's easier to get approval for something when you have the whole thing pretty much already planned out. It makes it easier for your administration to visualize what you have in mind and it can lay to rest a lot of their fears. So get together with your friends and imagine you already have approval to go ahead with the club. Draft this up in a proposal, with specifics: how often will you meet? Who is the advisor? What will the club do? How will you ensure that people train safely? What evidence is there that parkour is beneficial to young adults? (Here you can use all the evidence about how kids need to be more active, and also about how physical activity is a positive component to learning and development). Think of all the questions they might ask you, marshal effective responses, and present your case with thoughtful and respectful points.

I hope it works out for you. :)

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Teamwork?
« on: May 13, 2007, 08:32:33 PM »
Well in my view a traceur needs to be adept at both. I hate to keep going back to dance but right now I know it better than parkour (heck, no matter how long I train parkour I will probably always know dance better, since I've been studying it almost 3 decades). Still, I see parallels.

A capable dancer knows how to work with a group and as a soloist. Both situations require different skills: the soloist needs to be aware of his/her environment, the choreography, the music (which, with a live orchestra, can change). He/she also needs to be aware of the role, the state of his/her shoes, etc. A corps dancer needs to be aware of these things as well, but also needs to be aware of the other dancers. Sometimes they move as one, and so each dancer needs to be hyper-aware of the music and the other dancers, because a single dancer being a half count off can ruin the entire effect. There are traffic patterns to look out for as well: when you have 20-30 dancers onstage during a particularly fast cross, it can be dangerous--I almost got a broken nose in performance, the traffic pattern got messed up and I got clocked across the face by someone's foot! A complete dancer needs to be at home in both situations and indeed dance training reflects and develops this.

Each requires different skills, and in my view no practitioner is complete without having a full complement of solo and team skills. I'm certain it's the same for parkour. If nothing else, having skills in both domains infinitely makes me more adaptable than a traceur who only has skills in one or the other, and how can that be a bad thing?

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Parkour Armour
« on: May 13, 2007, 06:37:17 PM »
Hm. Well I haven't been doing parkour long enough to give you a parkour answer, but I know that when I did shaolin we did exercises where we basically slammed our forearms and shins together to toughen them and they seemed pretty effective.

From a dance perspective, since I know that better than I know shaolin (I know dance pretty much better than anything), my feet are tough as hell. Basically I have a coating of gross callouses around my toes to protect them during pointe work. I no longer need padding in my shoes when I do pointe; it's basically my bare foot. This was developed over years of getting blisters on my toes and forefoot, and then cutting away the dead skin and pouring rubbing alcohol all over my toes, and then going back and dancing more pointe for hours the next day. This is more a toughening of the skin than anything else; other dancers' toughness comes from sheer muscle strength and control. But it's a form of armor nonetheless. To give you an idea:

Ballerina feet These are not my feet; they've been attributed to Paloma Herrera, who is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. In any case, that's ballerina armour for you. :-)

In terms of your question about body limits, etc; Demon is doing a project with a Biomechanics professor at U of CO. Here is the link in case you missed it:

Perhaps this will answer your questions once his results come out.

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Shock Absorbance
« on: May 13, 2007, 06:28:56 PM »
I used to wear Fieyue's for shaolin. They were fine for that. In terms of shock absorbence, well, when kicking an opponent in full-contact there was a lot of shock put on lots of parts of the foot; same with stomping moves in forms. Granted, this is different than jumps and drops in parkour.

You know, Demon is doing his biomechanics project with the U of CO biomechanics professor. Perhaps you will find your answers there once he publishes the results? Here's the thread if you haven't seen it:

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Parkour Armour
« on: May 13, 2007, 05:37:47 PM »
What do you mean by "armour"? Do you mean that parkour "toughens" the body and makes it resistant to injury, or do you mean that since parkour involves lots of activity that increases potential for injury, that there is padding/"armour" available for traceurs to purchase?

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: APK Video Tutorials
« on: May 13, 2007, 05:25:11 PM »
I think it's a great idea! Are other people/organizations posting tutorials on youtube (and its cousins)?

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: What to do...
« on: May 13, 2007, 04:34:59 PM »
Look here:

:) Enjoy your stay at APK! Glad to have you along.

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: What to do...
« on: May 13, 2007, 03:37:09 PM »

Here is a great place to start:

Also, I would suggest starting the WODs (Workouts of the Day):

One thing that is helping me (I'm a beginner too; only on my second week of training!) is to post my workouts to a training journal here:

It's keeping me accountable and giving me motivation. Maybe it will work for you, maybe not, but those are my suggestions. Good luck with your training! This place is a very friendly forum for the most part; people tend to be very helpful and will answer your questions. Pleased to meet you, by the way.

Diet / Recipes
« on: May 13, 2007, 12:35:54 PM »
We should share recipes that we like! They can be our favorite thing to make/eat before a workout, easy and healthy weeknight meals, whatever. Since I almost became a chef before becoming a teacher, I know I'll geek out pretty hard on a thread like this. :) What's your favorite healthy recipe?

Here's one I love to make on busy weeknights (which is practically all the time for me). It's adapted from a recipe in The Dancing Gourmet, one of my favorite cookbooks written by a professional ballet dancer.

Bon appetit!

Soba Soup

Season 2-4 chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Broil or grill until done.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute chopped garlic, grated ginger, red pepper flakes for a few moments until fragrant. Add sliced mushrooms and chopped onion and saute until soft. Add equal parts chicken and vegetable broth. Simmer for at least 10 minutes.

While broth is simmering, cook whole wheat soba noodles until tender, and drain. Slice cooked chicken breasts.

Line bowls with fresh spinach leaves. Top with hot noodles and pour broth over the top. Top with chicken pieces. Garnish with chopped scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and fresh cilantro if desired.

Diet / Re: Help with eating problem?
« on: May 13, 2007, 12:28:38 PM »
Pack snacks! I keep a stash of roasted almonds, dried fruits, and other long-shelf-life natural things in my bag. They can be high in fat and sugar so use moderation; but they're better than Whoppers! :-)

On a daily basis you can just pack your own lunch or dinner to eat on your break. Go for healthy stuff like salads (when you make them yourself you can control what goes into them), wraps, fresh veggies, fresh fruits, lowfat cheeses (string cheese is a great snack), beef jerky (watch out for the salt though), low-sugar yogurt (I like to get plain yogurt and add fresh fruit to sweeten it; and maybe a little artificial sweetener if it's still too tart).

Good luck with things. I know how hard it is to resist, especially when you're working and your break is short and you want to go for something convenient.

Diet / Re: What's your diet?
« on: May 13, 2007, 12:22:22 PM »
As a ballet dancer and former anorexic/bulimic, this is a huge area of interest for me. I grew up loving food and loving to cook (I still do! I almost became a chef); but at the same time I got most of my ballet training in the post-Balanchine era when everyone was going for thin thin thin with no mind to the fact that it makes dancers (who are absolutely athletes) prone to injury. So I had this dichotomy all the time and food became this "bad" thing that I had to feel guilty about (it sounds so stupid now but that was the way the thinking ran then).

Thankfully I've gone through a long process of recovery and education, and also the ballet world has changed a LOT in terms of its approach to food, so my diet and also my whole perspective on food has changed to something really positive. I see food as fuel and since I love to cook, I am now able to combine that passion with a knowledge of the body and nutrition that makes food fun for me again.

I have tried the Zone diet and the South Beach diet (they are similar) and they work pretty well. For me, I go by rules of thumb rather than hard and fast rules about what I can/can't eat:

1. I try to make sure that every meal has (in descending order of priority): fresh vegetables, lean proteins/dairy, fresh fruits/whole-grain carbs (minimally processed), healthy/"good" fats (e.g. from nuts, fatty veggies & fruits like avocado or olives, etc). The less I do with the food in preparing it, the better. Keep it simple. Nature knows how to make things taste good on Her own.

2. I eat NO processed foods if I can help it. I mean, everything is processed; but I try to get food that is as close to what it used to be like when it was alive as possible (this goes for both plant and animal substances). The more natural it is, the more likely I am to eat it. Whole-grain bread, and cheese & yogurt, are about as "processed" as I try to go.

3. I try to get as much variety as possible. Never the same dinner twice in a week; rarely the same lunch (at least in terms of main course).

4. I eat when I'm hungry, and stop when I'm full.

5. I do indulge in the occasional cheat when the urge strikes. I just keep it small, and then occupy myself with other things. One thing I've started to do that's been helpful is to turn myself into kind of a food snob where desserts and the like are concerned. I will only eat, say, very fine European chocolate. This means that if there's a Hershey bar lying around, I'm less likely to eat it because if I'm going to eat something like chocolate, I want the "cheat" to be worth the price I pay for it. It also means I cheat less often because very fine European chocolate is hard to come by, and is expensive.

6. I try to remember the maxim (from the South Beach diet) "There are no bad foods, only bad habits."

7. I try to drink at least a liter of water a day.

8. Fine wine is a good thing.

Other interesting points about food:

1. Studies show that when you take time to eat slowly, on nice dishes and at the table, with an elegant presentation (even if the food isn't necessarily fancy), you absorb more nutrition from it than if you were to eat the same thing, say, while standing at the kitchen counter eating and doing a crossword puzzle. Even better if you can eat the food in a convivial atmosphere: with friends and nice conversation for example.

2. It is my personal belief that the French have it right on when it comes to food. Lunch takes two hours, as does dinner, quite often. They sit down with friends and family, and have a 4-course meal. Often it is quite simple: very natural foods, seasonal, simply prepared; but there are four courses nonetheless and it's generally a sit-down affair. A light appetizer, maybe some cold cuts and olives; followed by a main dish, perhaps a slice of quiche or a cut of meat with some sauteed vegetables; then a salad (yes, the salad is at the end of the meal, the idea being that the acid in the vinaigrette dressing, and the roughage in the greens, will help break down the proteins from the main course and aid in digestion). Salad is followed by a few slices of excellent cheese, and then maybe a dessert. Dessert in France is quite often simple fresh fruit. Granted, they've also got things like steak-frites and chocolate mousse; but for the most part, the French approach to food has a lot going for it, health-wise, IMO.

The only killer for me is the baguette: French bread. It is ubiquitous. You can't have a meal, any meal, in France, without it. As I don't eat white breads, baguette is a total no-no for me. But it is sooooo good; so when I'm in France I do allow myself to indulge in baguette. I just then try to sightsee as much as possible so I'm running stairs all day. ;-)

In searching for resources for Drew, in his post about aching wrists and ankles, I came across this site:

TheraBand Academy

You can search for exercises by body part, training goal, type of exercise (e.g. strengthening, stretching, etc.), and even by sports. It's not meant to be a substitute for training but it looks like a great resource to find specific exercises for supplementing training, i.e. if you find you have a lot of weakness in your shoulders, for example, as compared to the rest of your body.

It looks like you can also customize your own program by adding certain exercises to their "My Program" function; not sure if this requires you to register or not. I haven't had a lot of chance to really nose around on the site yet.

I hope people will find it useful.


Injuries - Discussion / Re: wrist and ankle aches, please help
« on: May 13, 2007, 11:42:02 AM »
You can also do theraband exercises once the inflammation goes down (use of contrast baths and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen will help). These, along with the "write the alphabet with your ankle" are what we give as homework for the girls about to go en pointe at the company school. Here is a link with descriptions of a lot of different exercises:

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: B-E-G-I-N-N-E-R
« on: May 13, 2007, 10:53:12 AM »
Handstand on a rail = referring to David Belle? He does a lot of things that "aren't Parkour" by some people's definitions. In one interview he shrugged and said "I have the training and I like to do it", or something like that.

Heh. That quote is likely from a TF1 (French network) news broadcast about David Belle. You can see Sebastien Foucan training with him in the video as well. In this youtube clip of the broadcast, at about 1:10 he does a backflip off of a building and says (I think; I transcribed it as best I could), “Bon je ne fais pas tout le temps, mais un p’tit saut tour (?) en arrière [backflip]…il n’est pas vraiment partie du parkour mais comme j’ai fait un peu de gym, j’aime bien en mettre parce que ça me fait plaisir…” which translates roughly to:

"Well, I don't do this all the time, but, a little backflip [and then he does the backflip]. It's not really part of parkour but since I've trained in a bit of gymnastics, I like to put it in because it pleases me/it's fun."

The video clip is at least 5 years old because the reporter says David Belle is 27 years old, but he was born in '73. (Yeah, I'm a bit of a fangirl) :)

Et voilà! :)

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Lacking Confidence
« on: May 13, 2007, 10:34:44 AM »
Vaulting onto something is a good idea; breaking it down into smaller bits. I like that. Also, a mental thing you can do is change your thoughts from "I can't vault (or whatever)" to "Vaulting (or whatever) is a goal for me." It's a small thing but it can change your whole approach to stuff if you just make it a habit to change "can'ts" to "goals".

Good luck and let us know how you're coming along with this!

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Biomechanics in Parkour
« on: May 12, 2007, 11:31:30 PM »
*burns with anticipation* Demon, I sooooo can't wait to see what comes out of this!

*happy dances*

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Anti - Competition Thread
« on: May 12, 2007, 11:23:02 PM »
So, I've been rattling this "how to structure a parkour competition" question around in my head for a while and I kind of had a brainstorm this afternoon in the midst of wishing for my own death, if only to stop the pain of the migraine I had. Happily, the migraine is gone (better living through chemistry!), so here's the idea. Please bear in mind that I am only a n00b:

I’m a big fan of keeping things simple, and also of riffing off of what has been done before (why re-invent the wheel?)

What if it was structured kind of along the lines of a run or bike race or triathlon, for instance the Boston Marathon, or a charity run. Instead of having a pre-set race route, there is a certain city zone marked off, within which the competitors can work. They have to get from the starting line to the finish line in the best time, just like in a run or bike race. However there are also predetermined “touchpoints” along the way that they have to hit.

These touchpoints can be chosen randomly or they can be chosen for their degree of “hotspotness” (i.e. a particular wall or stairway). The touchpoints also can either be revealed to the traceurs far in advance of the competition, just before the competition, or not until after the competition. Judges/timekeepers/chrono cameras could be stationed at the touchpoints to mark time for each traceur as they pass through, to pace them and track who has been to which touchpoint. The traceur who hits the most touchpoints with the best times wins.

Awards/distinctions could also be given out for style. Just like in figure skating, they have to do a technical (like the competition for time described above) and an expressive (or whatever they call it), points could be given for tricks/moves/what have you.

So at the end of the competition, you could have lots of traceurs walking away with lots of different trophies/medals/prizes: trophies for time, for technique, for aesthetic qualities. That way people can choose which areas they want to emphasize in their training, and can strive for excellence in the way they like best, all within the same city zone.

In terms of how this will affect the general public watching on TV (which I will call “the n00b factor” for ease of explanation), it will convey the multidimensionality of parkour; that it is all these things: efficiency, style athleticism, etc. Meanwhile of course you will have sportscaster commentary to educate them, just like you do during the Tour de France or other competitions of that type. If it’s packaged like a run or a bike race rather than, say a snowboarding competition, I think it will go a long way towards mitigating the “n00b factor” that people seem so concerned about.

No one has to build the course; a city zone just needs to be chosen and then cordoned off like you would for a marathon through a city. You would have to set up timekeepers and such at the “touchpoints,” but again this isn’t much different than the timekeepers and water handout/first aid stations in long-distance races/triathlons. The infrastructure is already there. All you’d need to do is set up the rules and the scoring (if you chose to do a “style” or technique/aesthetics portion).

I like the idea of not revealing the touchpoints to the traceurs until after the competition. That way they have to think while running the course; I think part of what we’d want to judge is how well they “address obstacles” on the fly… bah, I’m not articulating this bit very well. You know, how well they “think like a traceur”? Man, I’m making no sense here. Hopefully someone gets it.

Anyway, that’s the basic idea: for time, like a triathlon or footrace through a city, but with “touchpoints” they need to hit on their way through.


Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Begginers? Not Cared for?
« on: May 12, 2007, 07:49:36 PM »
True, which is why I offered to help in some small way. Just put me where you need me. I'll try to keep an eye out for beginners and at least link them to threads I know about right away. :)

Regarding the people who want to know more about oranges, they will come back with follow-up questions, so they will take the responsibility off of you for knowing how much to give them.

In terms of the catalogue, I was just thinking of keeping a list (like in your head or on paper next to your computer or something) of where certain threads are, so that when a beginner asks about shoes for the millionth time, you can reply with, "Welcome! Check here <link> for an answer to that."

That said, for me personally, I was able to find a lot of beginner stuff on this forum right off the bat; but I'm a "read-everything-er" so, I dunno. *shrug*

Training Journals / Re: Muse_of_Fire's Training Log
« on: May 12, 2007, 03:40:44 PM »

The intention for today was to teach my ballet classes (among them, Creative Movement with 4-year-olds. They need a lot of demonstrating and it's more, well, creative movement than ballet, so I get a lot of opportunities to do QM and other improvisational stuff!), and then go to the park for some monkey business. I accomplished the former, but not the latter. In between teaching and the park, I stopped by the deli for a salad and got a migraine for my trouble. I went straight home, drugged up, and slept for two hours.

Tomorrow I'll swing by the park... after I grade a million French quizzes. :-/

In sum, today's workout ended up being: 45 minutes (total) of QM and improvisational jumps, rolls, balances.

Parkour And Freerunning / Re: Begginers? Not Cared for?
« on: May 12, 2007, 03:36:04 PM »
M2 the idea of cataloguing the questions is exactly what I was suggesting. Great minds think alike, and so do we! :)

A "Beginners Start Here!" forum would be a good place to store those catalogued questions, and will be sufficient for those types of people who seek the information and read everything. For those who "ask about the color of an orange," we can easily link them to the corresponding question in It will be something that requires daily maintenance, but if we as a community stay on top of it, it shouldn't be too bad; particularly once Btay has a large body of questions catalogued.

Perhaps it may be useful to have a handful of people volunteer to specifically look out for questions from beginners on a daily or mostly-daily basis, to jump on those threads quickly and point them to the right place. I can try to be one of those people, if you like. I can't provide answers, being a beginner myself; but I can point to others' answers!

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