I Can’t Do That?

My journey into pakour is similar to that of many “old timers.” Although I’m only 27 I’ve been a part of the parkour community for many years. It began one day when my dad called me into the living room to “see what these guys on TV are doing.” It was the now mostly forgotten Ripley’s Believe It or Not video on the Yamakasi.

After the segment was over I was hooked. I didn’t know what to look for online so I just went outside and started climbing trees and hopping benches. The closest I figured I would get to that would be an obstacle course. My constant refrain I can do that! I didn’t start parkour until Urban Ninja, the first youtube video I remember watching went viral. I researched for hours and the constant feedback I gave myself and heard onlin was I can do that!

When I started I was an obese sophomore who, despite my weight, was fairly agile, had excellent balance, and was unreasonably sure of myself despite the fact that I hated the way I looked. Now I’ve been doing parkour in some form for over 10 years. It’s helped me lose weight, look, and move better! I constantly surprise people with with my paltry skill set.  I’m still not very good but I’m getting better and I’m better after each training session. I’ve always had the same mentality from all those years before. I can do that!

That is, until last week. I started watching parkour videos again for inspiration and ended up watching a bunch of GUP videos. about halfway through “By Now” I caught myself saying “I couldn’t do that.” It was a gut punch.

I know there are plenty of things I can’t do. I’ve said “I can’t do that” a lot. Always present tense! And there are things I doubt I will ever be able to do. I am not a full time athlete so the big stuff isn’t something I work towards.

This is different. This is the first time I’ve seen something and taken it out of the realm of possibility. It wasn’t huge or overly technical it just popped into my head that I couldn’t do it, it’s been stuck there gnawing at me since. Then I made a decision. This was just another mental obstacle I have to overcome. Even if I never hit that line from the GUP video. I need to be ok with that but never stop myself from trying.

Below you will find the steps I’m taking to stave off my doubts in the future. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you.

Change Your Training

When you come to something you can’t do you have two options. Quit or work hard till you can do it. It’s good to know your limits but important to push through them. If you haven’t already, set SMART goals and then make a plan. Since you’ve hit a wall, change up the way you train to get a fresh perspective. Complacency and boredom are your enemies.

If you train by yourself, find some local traceurs. If you have a large group do some solo training. Train indoors, go outside. Just do something to rekindle that original passion.

Over the next few months I plan on taking my training up a notch. I’ve set a few goals and have identified a few movements I want to have down by the end of the year. I’m planning on signing up for some targeted lessons at a local gym to help keep me motivated and accountable. I’ve trained mostly by myself so this will be a good change.

Remember Why You Train

Not being able to do something and admitting it to yourself isn’t the end of the world. We all train for different reasons and most of them don’t involve being on the podium at NAPC. Many train to lose weight or because it’s fun. Others train to be ready for an emergency. Remember, you train for yourself and not being able to do something another traceur can do is okay! Don’t let it affect you.

That’s why I wrote this article. To remind myself of the can do attitude I had when a I started and the whole reason I kept going every time things got hard. My father died of a heart attack when I was pretty young. I don’t want to do that to my family. So I train and work hard.

Take some time to go back and remember why you started parkour. Write it down. If you feel like sharing send it our way! We love to read why people started training.

Find People That Inspire You

Remember those inspiring videos with those super smooth traceurs all started somewhere. Everyone started on this journey as a beginner and that if they can do it so can you. Even though it’s what got me thinking about this it’s important to find people to look up to in the community.

That’s where you and APK come in! I’m super proud of the work I get to do with APK! It’s filled with some of the most inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and over the course of the next few months APK is going to do a better job inspiring and being inspired by you! We have several plans coming down the pipe that we are really excited about and hope you can be too!

In the meantime follow APK ambassadors and  athletes on instagram and share some of your favorite videos on our facebook page!

Written by

Patrick Witbrod

Patrick is a Technology and Business senior at Missouri S&T where he practices parkour. Constantly trying to improve himself, he's lost 30 lbs because of parkour and martial arts and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.