008 – Interview with Andrew Foster

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Episode Summary

Andrew Foster shares his fascinating journey from his home-schooled beginnings in Ohio, Arabic studies, and living in Jordan, (including meeting and training with Danny Ilabac in Cairo) to facing the dark challenge of losing everything- including his purpose in life. Starting renewed from his lowest point, on a mountaintop in Colorado, he describes finding new purpose and direction, bringing him full circle to his home town in Ohio.


On losing everything and finding renewed purpose

Craig: The obvious question is, why are you not still in the Middle East [00:12:00] today?

Andrew: I thought I would be. That was the dream. I had this vision of my life and what I was doing. I thought I’d move there. I’d fallen in love with the culture. I talked my wife into-

Craig: Opportunities to help people out.

Andrew: Yeah. I wanted to start maybe a nonprofit or something, helping especially kids in difficult situations, maybe in Palestine or something. It all fell apart. Long story short, I ended up [00:12:30] back in the US and feeling like I lost everything. I’d lost my plan. I’d lost my vision for what I thought my life was going to be. I’d lost this purpose that I had. I lost relationships. I’d made promises to guys over there. I was like, “Hey, I’m going to come back. I’m going to open this gym. Ready to start this thing.”

Craig: Right. You had to walk away from that, right?

Andrew: Yeah, I felt crushed. Coming back, I’d spent all my money. My car had broken down. We’d gotten rid of our apartment my [00:13:00] wife and I had. I had nowhere to live. I had no money. I had no possessions. I’d given away the last of my money I could before we left the Middle East thinking I was coming back and getting a job. I didn’t have my job anymore. I’d quit that. It all really tumbled down and fell apart, and I ended up feeling really lost. I ended up, my brother and I, in a moment of desperation [00:13:30] and-

Craig: Yeah, a journey right, the quest…

Andrew: Yeah, just like, “I don’t know what else to do.” We get in a pickup truck, and we started driving west. Took a road map with us and that’s it and just, “Let’s see where we end up and see what happens.” We drove, and we just kept driving until we got to Colorado. I don’t know, something about the mountains, I guess. We drove there, and we ended up driving up into the mountains and parking the truck on the side of the road, and turning around [00:14:00] and looking up and we were like, “All right, which … Let’s climb that one,” which, honestly, is a terrible idea. To anyone out there listening, that’s not the way to climb a mountain.

Craig: Weather forecast? Nah.

Andrew: We did it late in the evening, so it was a just grueling climb up this mountain with rocks falling and nearly dying on cliffs that we should not … no business being on. Get to the top, and it was sunset. It was a terrible idea, but one of those adventures where it ends up perfect.

Craig: Yeah, could not have planned it better.

Andrew: Yeah. [00:14:30] My brother and I are up there, coming up over the crest and there’s maybe a half mile left to go, and it’s snow at this point, snow and these wildflowers. It was the beginning of summer. I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why I’m saying this on a podcast. I took all my clothes off and I just ran naked up the rest of the mountain. I felt like it was this moment, it was the right thing to do somehow. It was this … I don’t know if it was a metaphor for myself or if it was just how I was feeling that [00:15:00] I had nothing left.

Craig: Catharsis, right?

Andrew: On top of it all, I guess I didn’t mention, my knee was injured at this point, so I couldn’t do Parkour, either, and that’s something I wanted to be doing. I had nothing. I was like, “Okay, might as well take my clothes off, too. I guess I got nothing left.” I ran up this mountain naked, and was at the top. I come up over the crest, and the sun’s setting. Everything’s lit up. It’s all golden, and there’s just the Rockies spread out, just mountains, [00:15:30] as far as you can see. You feel like you’re on the top of the world. The sky’s so big when you’re up there. I don’t know. Here in Ohio, you drive through trees and buildings and whatnot, and the sky’s this blue thing up there.

Craig: Yeah, overhead, not all around.

Andrew: Yeah. You get on top of a mountain, you’re like, “No, the sky’s almost to your feet.” You’re just in this huge dome of the universe, and you feel so small. Just looking out at it all, I just threw my fist to the sky and [00:16:00] let out a yell of … I don’t know, of anger, frustration, of hurt.

Craig: Final fling of a- the last bit of a thing you were holding onto.

Andrew: Just shaking my fist at God and saying, “Why? Why is this? Why am I here? Why have I lost everything?” It’s weird. That moment was rock bottom for me, but it’s also the beginning of moving up, of a change.

Craig: Yeah, the new journey. From there, [00:16:30] you have two choices. You have the dark abyss on one side, literally, and then you have the journey that you chose.

Andrew: Yeah, I did. I felt like I had a choice, and I had to look and choose. Do I go into nothingness, I give up, I quit, I walk off the cliff ahead of me, I just run off it and scream and that’s it, or do I accept that, okay, everything’s been taken from me, but it was never mine to begin with? We come from dust, and we return to dust. We don’t have anything except what we’re given, and it’s a gift. [00:17:00] Life is a gift. Everything, every breath I have is a gift. Every step I take is a gift. If I only get to train Parkour one more time in my life, that’s a gift. It’s not a horrible thing. It’s a beautiful thing. If I’m paralyzed tomorrow, I still have been given so much. I guess in that moment, I had so much clarity of realizing I’ve been looking at life backwards this whole time. I’d been putting my motivation … Finding my motivation in, and putting my hope in, [00:17:30] all these things that I had, all these Parkour abilities-

Craig: Everything’s anchored in the future that way if you’re always thinking-

Andrew: Yeah. My plans for what I thought I was going to do with my life, how I thought things were going to pan out and all these things, and realizing … Yeah, it’s funny. Thinking back to the Daniel Ilabaca‘s words to me about, “Stop focusing on the future. You’re stutter stepping. You’re losing your strength.” I was running up to a precision jump, and I couldn’t hit it because I wasn’t putting my power into each moment, each step. I was [00:18:00] looking ahead of the jump. It’s so true. In that moment, I guess I hit that point of realizing that I can’t put my hope in all these other things because they all pass away eventually.

Craig: Sure. There’s no guarantee.

Andrew: I had to find something else to live for. I chose life. Between the two choices — the darkness, the abyss, and I think faith or [00:18:30] hope or something — I chose that. I said, “Okay, I’m going to believe that I think God has a purpose for me, that’s there some value for my life, that there’s something that was worth living for. I just have to try and seek that out and find what it is.” I put my clothes back on, and had a snowball fight with my brother, and drove back.

Craig: That’s the perfect ending, I was thinking, “I bet there was a snowball fight.”

Andrew: There was. There was a snowball fight. [00:19:00] I came back to Ohio and decided, “Okay, I’m going to be here…

Craig: Be here now for my family, for my community-

Andrew: Yeah, and not for myself and not for my plans and not for what I thought I was going to be done. It was weird. It was a weird moment. It’s all gone, so now it’s a blank slate. I’m here. What do I do? I feel like the answer that I got was, “love people.” You’re here in this place. Why [00:19:30] live here? Why not live somewhere else? It’s not for the weather, and it’s not for the training spots, or it’s not for any of these other reasons. Ultimately-

Craig: Sometimes it’s easy to fall back on and get complacent and say, “I live in this place. The sunset is gorgeous every day, and there are all these things,” and in some ways, the living in an environment where you don’t have any assistance, where things are just natural, just normal, that [00:20:00] requires you to rise to the occasion. You have to find the meaning in the moments.

Andrew: Yeah, I definitely was like, “Okay, I’ve said I’m in this place, so what do I do in this place?” I guess there’s people here, and there’s beautiful people here. They have value. I believe that they’re created with an inherent value. Each person is unique and beautiful, so I felt this calling to devote myself to that, that I should … [00:20:30] in as much as I had lost everything else to live for, that I’d found a purpose in living for love, that I found that I feel that I have been loved. That moment of realizing, “I’ve been given so much-”

Craig: Yeah, look at everything I have. Everything’s been taken away, but I still have all of this, right?

Andrew: Yeah. It’s a gift of, if nothing else, breathing. I’ve been given this gift, so in return, as much as I’ve been loved by God, how can I love others? [00:21:00] That really started digging me into the idea of community here in this place with these people. How can I-

Craig: How can I be a good father? How can I be a good husband? How can I be a good community member? What would that look like?

Andrew: Right, yeah. How can I do that … Even if it’s hard, even if it’s not … Sometimes I feel like people aren’t participating or they’re even fighting me in a way. Sometimes people hurt you in relationships. Sometimes you’re trying … I feel like I’m trying [00:21:30] to build a community and people are almost fighting against me in that, but I think that’s part of it. I think that’s part of loving people, is being able to take whatever they throw at you.

Craig: Right.

007 – Interview with Finn Berggren

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Episode Summary

Finn Berggren shares his thoughts on Parkour, explaining why he brought Parkour to Gerlev Idrætshøjskole in Denmark to replace the traditional gymnastics curriculum. We also discuss the “sportification” of Parkour and the Olympics, and he shares his story of the pivotal moment which solidified his decision to bring Parkour to Gerlev.


On the future of Parkour: Is sportification unaviodable?

Craig: So Finn, do you see any potential hazards or problems that Parkour might face uniquely in the future?

Finn: Well, you have to understand that this is of course looking [00:14:00] from my point of view. It may be not the right point of view. Other views may be just as good and may be even better, but I’m just giving you my personal point of view on this. The reason why I’m in love with Parkour and try to be a center for Parkour in Denmark is that it has been unstructured. It has been free will. It has been the innovative feeling. [00:14:30] It has been explore the possibilities without rules. Now I know and I can see that we have reached the level with Parkour that the sportification will take over.

Craig: Right.

Finn: With sportification, just to give you my way of using the word, it is that when an activity suddenly become so [00:15:00] popular that sports organization, all the sports organizations that they realize, “Ah, here happens to be a potential to get new members.” Then suddenly the activity becomes something more interesting, not for all those values I have just been mentioning, but because it’s a possibility to increase the members of the sport’s organization, [00:15:30] and at the same time when you are into a sport organization in the world generally, Denmark is very confusing to explain about organizations, but in the world in general, then they will come into a sport’s organization which are running competitive programs, who is the national champion, the European champion. The optimal goal of those organization, and for some people [00:16:00] in the field of Parkour, is also, “Oh, can this be an Olympic …”

Craig: Can we get it to that point where it’s recognized like running.

Finn: Exactly, exactly. Here, I have to say that this is just my view I’m giving to you because I have definitely no problem in enjoying an activity who happened to be part of the Olympic family. It creates so much awareness [00:16:30] now, some entertainment feeling this, but from my personal and from my Academy’s point of view, then I prefer that this has nothing to do … You see, I have learned from other sports activities, and in fact my way of doing gymnastic, that when you start getting into this sportification, then to be able to compare, you need the rules to be more [00:17:00] and more and more strict.

Craig: Strict and normalized–

Finn: Suddenly, you are sitting in a very, very narrow field and you had to do it like this, and you have to do it by time, you have to do it … So all those aspects… People may like to look at it, but the innovative, the free will, the value of challenging yourself in a different way, that will be gone, in my opinion. That’s what I see as [00:17:30] the main problem.

Craig: The main problem. Do you think that the way to protect against that problem is to self-organize so that we can control the part of it that becomes a sport, that becomes sportified, that we can say, “That’s fine. It can go be structured,” but then we can preserve the nature of Parkour if we have control of it ourselves, or do you think we should continue on the same path of just having no organizational structure at all?

Finn: I believe that if … I [00:18:00] know this has been discussed a lot, and my point of view may be totally different but as soon as we begin organizing, then we are creating the basis for sportification because then suddenly you have an organization saying, “We are the real Parkour organization,” and another one saying, “No, no. We happen to be the real Parkour organization.” I’m working [00:18:30] all over the world in the field of sport for all, and I can tell you that until now, I have 15, 20 world organizations catering to the same people saying, “We are the organization which you have to belong to.”

Craig: “We represent you.”

Finn: Yes. It’s popping up and it’s still popping up, so in my opinion, then I feel that if [00:19:00] you go into a strong structured organization as a way to avoid the other one, then I believe you just create the best background to do it. So I feel that the network, that’s different, the network of groups in all the countries, that the network and use the word network instead of organizations because when you use organizations, then you run strictly into the typical [00:19:30] sport structure in the world.

Craig: Pyramid structure, right.

Finn: Exactly.

006 – Interview with Paul Graves

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Episode Summary

Paul brings his extensive experience to bear to provide insight into Capoeira. We go on to talk about how movement itself can be a conversation, before we dig deep into the human need to experience nature as part of our lives, as well as part of our parkour practice.


Movement and Conversation; From Capoeira to Parkour

Craig: One of the things that I see, when I’ve seen Capoeira is, it’s clearly a conversation. You can see that it could be combative and antagonistic, but there’s a conversation happening there. A lot of times in parkour, there are certain people I have in mind, that conversation is happening when you train with them, and in other situations that’s missing. So I’m just wondering [00:09:00] what your thoughts are, from an original Capoeira point of view, coming into parkour.

Paul: Sure. Capoeira is … One of the most common books on it is called The Origins of the Dance Fight Game. We can’t even manage to get a name right on it, because it’s more than each of those things.

Craig: What? A sport that doesn’t know what to call itself?

Paul: Strong parallels right. There’s a big part of that is, how you respond to external things beyond your control, and then how you master then. That’s the part [00:09:30] that makes it completely organic. Why do they never hit each other? Well they are trying to-

Craig: They are trying to-

Paul: But you see it coming, and you get out of the way. Now in the same way, and this is actually, I’m a wordsmith, I’m a poet, I love words and that’s the analogy I’ve always preferred for Capoeira, you learn a vocabulary of movements. You can think of those as a language. Then the grammar and the structure, if I were to say to you, “Hey how’s it going?” That might be doing a gentle movement near you, and occupying your space, interacting with your environment, making you respond physically. You can choose a response like, [00:10:00] “Oh, I’m interesting. How are you?” Or you can say, “Get away from me.”

Craig: I’m feeling injured and vulnerable-

Paul: Right, and so that is exactly the same way, informed a little bit by music, but also you choose. If someone comes in really hot and heavy from the beginning, you’re like, “Quit yelling at me.” It’s almost the same level of interaction, but also, from the very beginning in Capoeira, no matter what level you are, you can play the game with anyone. My first summer in Capoeira, with no experience, feeling like [00:10:30] a gawky, barely out of his teens kid who knew nothing about what he was doing, surrounded by these Adonis examples of human beings … Was that everyone was in every show, and we did shows at every public library in San Antonio, which is like 20-plus separate performances. In public, without a shirt, with just white skinny pants on. It was very difficult for me at that point in my life, but I learned that was part of it.

You can play with anyone. They’re not playing down to you. Is like having a conversation with someone, where [00:11:00] your language is their second language. You don’t think there are any less intelligent, or any less capable of carrying on the conversation-

Craig: In fact, you try harder. If I know that is not your first language, then I’m trying to be more particular about the things that I ask of you.

Paul: Exactly, you’re controlling … Your word choice must be more careful, so that you don’t send the wrong message, and your awareness for their space, and that is how it is to play Capoeira with someone, and we do call it playing Capoeira, that is all it is ever called, with someone who is not yet as versed as you are maybe. [00:11:30] That mindset around coaching Capoeira, you learn from beginners as well. You start teaching very early on.

Craig: What was the phrase-

Paul: “I am a master who learns. I am a student who teaches.” It was the first quote I read when I opened Nestor Capoeira‘s, The Little Capoeira Book, which was my first Capoeira teacher. Later I un-learned a lot of the things I taught myself wrong, but in that-

Craig: Ah, the human existence right?

Paul: Yes. Well, until I had other people. The social aspect is how we learn.

Craig: Oh, that’s a good-

Paul: …and that ties [00:12:00] in directly to, how does this now all apply to parkour? Well, in parkour, we are moving, and we’re still having that conversation, but rather than having it in this pure philosophical realm where it’s just two people talking across a table, and I say that to say that the roda is just a circle on the ground.

Craig: Right, there’s two people talking across the proverbial table in a circle.

Paul: There’s nothing else in that space. Now you start adding obstacles, obstacles to understanding, obstacles to reaching what may or may not be your goal … [00:12:30] Or, and then when you talk about people who do this, contact improvisation comes to mind and there’s specific movers, but when you play with your environment, and I use the term play from an educational sense, not a trivial sense. That’s always a conversation. From a Capoeira sense, playing with your environment is engaging with your environment, responding to your environment. When you do a thing, find out what the environments doing, come back. It’s almost like stationary Capoeira is like, imagine this wall is just a person, in [00:13:00] a set scheme-

Craig: In a set position-

Paul: Like in a block. Now what can I do around that? That gets a little further into what I did once I got with the two together, but I think that conversation piece comes from taking the landscape of the conversation that you’re having with someone, or with movement, and then how do these things fit into this conversation of movement. So is not always imposing my will. I want to do this line, this way. That can be one mindset that you see people have, versus this place … [00:13:30] I want to play with the idea of how I would vault over this to that.

Craig: Right, what opportunities are here.

Paul: Right, and those are very different mindsets that both exist. I know a lot of people might approach their training both ways, different days. For me, I usually need some sort of that engagement piece, or it doesn’t seem as fun to me. Just doing that same line over and over, it can be like optimizing, there’s different things there, but that is what really came to me.

Craig: Everybody [00:14:00] who has been to the situations where someone, or a small group of people, are working on a particular challenge in a line, and then you develop the bystander group, and suddenly it’s a group of people watching other people do parkour. The question I always have is, where does that actually come from? Does that stem from the people who are doing — let’s call that a line — the people who are doing that line, that challenge, or is it somehow coming from the people that are watching what’s going on? Is there an ego at play there somewhere?

Paul: Sure, I think that it can really depend on the type of challenge. [00:14:30] So there’s something to be said for fun. You’re with people who are pushed through the same type of challenge you’re doing. That’s one thing that we want to foment at jams. Where you get those people together to challenge each other and do something really hard, and there might be a question of accessibility. Other people will start watching that, and that can be super discouraging. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be done, at all. On the contrary, it’s a really important part of it, but I feel like there is a … very often a, “I could never do that,” syndrome-

Craig: Sure-

Paul: Which we hear constantly from bystanders-

Craig: Which I totally associate with!

Paul: …and I feel like that, [00:15:00] it’s … I mean I don’t want to call it “ego”, because that makes people think of the … Of being too proud-

Craig: “Id” might be a better word.

Paul: Id might be. Yeah so, that the internal feeling, the sense of shame that you’re not good enough to do that challenge, or that you might never be able to, or you thought you were doing pretty good but look at these guys. These are all things that make people unwilling to continue moving in that moment.

Craig: They disengage from that conversation that we’ve been describing-

Paul: They’d rather just watch, because there is safety in spectating. When I think about communication, let’s tie this back- [00:15:30] it’s about a place where you can have people … You can choose what communicating you are doing as a group, and if it becomes clear that two or three people’s challenge is disengaging a huge number of people at that jam, being able to create a group of challenges, or similar challenges, or whatever it is to give other people something they can find manageable and engaging, and know that’s okay. That’s kind of about creating safe spaces, but I think it’s very much about being aware [00:16:00] of what’s being communicated to whom, and who or what they’re communicating back through their movement or lack of movement. In Capoeira, if the person doesn’t play with you, they don’t say anything to you, they don’t do anything, you wouldn’t just kick them.

Craig: Well you might; I wouldn’t!

Paul: I mean if you didn’t have a reason, no. If there’s in the roda, they showed up to the place where the conversation happens, and they don’t say anything, that instantly is a concern. You can’t have a conversation with only one side. [00:16:30] That would require a stop right there. That game is over. Someone else would call the game, and have the two people step out, or one person else step in. So in my mind, if you’re at the place where everyone has come to play, to move, to train hard … If “game” isn’t what works for your mind for that, to get that training and with other people, and to share that experience. People who feel disengaged from that, they’re communicating something too. I think it’s [00:17:00] super dependent on who is there, the situation, and being able to play with those energies, which is something I also picked up in Capoeira. The understanding, why might this motivation be happening. What is someone feeling, or not feeling in this moment.

I think my happiest times are engagement with others. That isn’t necessarily the truth for everyone, but … If you’re never engaged by training with other people, then jams aren’t probably something you’re attending anyway.

005 – Interview with Max Henry

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Episode Summary


What else would you like to share?


I ADD and I have nothing against gymnastics discipline, its practitioners and the federations that govern.

That said, It's more to defend a branch (ADD or Parkour and Freerun) rather than another, We want cut down us our tree, and, like what already said in the various exchanges on this subject since the publication of the FIG, I consider that our discipline - that she gets either call ADD, Parkour or freerunning- and gymnastics, Since these are two totally separate entities, do not have to be governed by the same instance. Under what grounds should him ? Because some of our acrobatic techniques are based on those of gymnastics ? It would be as unfair and incomprehensible that if other federations, other sports, claimed their legitimacy to govern, one under the pretext that we use some martial arts techniques to fall, the other, some Yoga techniques for our stretching, a third, some track and field techniques to improve our jumps in length... All this would have heads or tails...


For all those who believe in us and who continue to do, to believe in our practice and for those who want to believe in the Exchange and genuine sharing between individuals, I thank them for their support. It is rare that I take position as openly but, following the publication of the FIG project, the confusion in the minds of many practitioners is such that I can decently keep silent and impassive. As a co-founder of the add-on, It is obvious that I stand alongside my brothers Chau, Laurent, Malik, Williams, to support all international and national organizations of parkour and freerunning (UK Parkour, the FPK and all those who have joined the movement), and personalities such as Eugene Minogue, Julie Angel, who have manifested the top and against what could cause the end of the legitimacy of our common practice. Thank you all for your support, as for your responsiveness. FIG think perhaps demonstrate boldness and innovation ? On our side, We are now many think that it is rather a plunder, at least. An explanation on the part of its leaders would be more than enough to resolve the situation.

What of their accomplices ?
When some individuals is to stay independent and integrated by love of the practice and the well-being of its practitioners, others who claim to belong only to the branch of parkour since the beginning, Today show that they only parkourir after money, Thus stoking the lust to excess. This drift can have any other purpose than to serve the opportunists and pushy for a long time. Personally, as a proud representative of the Yamakasi that still burns within me, I should like to say unequivocally that I do not represent nor the vision, Neither the approach of Mark C., David B. and Charles P. for a very long. Careerism, individualism and greed here hold hands to try to lead the string. They say that money never made the happiness of that either, they continue to believe that it is more comfortable to cry in car to bike. Well ! Although even their hypothetical ethical would we circulates in electric car "to move things forward.", do not forget that as ecological as, the electric car has a limited autonomy which will force them sooner or later, to continue the walk way, When we, poor aware, We will continue in tandems from all sides. Have it their way, We will have them (Once again) defendants. As for M. Watanabe, He is described in an article in french sports newspaper of Fame team (link in comments), as someone ambitious and whose program, I quote : "based on the commercial development of gymnastics in order to increase the popularity.. Secretary general of the Japan Federation of gymnastics since 2001, He raised the discipline in his country, who had failed to distinguish himself in the Atlanta games (1996) and Sydney (2000). "It's a portrait could not be more explicit!!!

In the last place, I just found out that my brother Christopher will accompany (will himself participate?) two of the Pacific Yamak to the next games FISE, guests by Charles !!! After David, It is the turn of my brother fell into the arms of Morpheus counterfeiting aka Charles the sleeping aid. It puts you to sleep for a while, you are happy your sleep time, and one fine day, you eventually wake up, completely stripped. I would have told you my brother.

Thanks to all those who understand us, Thanks to all those who have understood us from the beginning, Thank you to all those who come to open our eyes.

YAMAKASI and ADD Co-founder

004 – Interview with Caitlin Pontrella

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Episode Summary


What does your practice mean to you?

Craig: Inside Parkour there’s something called Parkour vision. People who– Caitlin’s nodding. People who do Parkour, are like “yeah, yeah, I know what that is.” I call it Obstacle Attraction Disorder. Everybody does this. You’re simply drawn to railings and walls and obstacles, and they sort of have this inherent beauty that you see because you spot the inherent movement opportunities that are there. But, along the way, [00:10:00] I had to learn that. In the beginning, I had no idea what to do anywhere, anytime, because I didn’t have my own builtin permission to play. People who don’t do Parkour, this Parkour vision is really central.

Caitlin: Absolutely. I think that Parkour vision, and I wish again that we had a different term so that we can pull more people to [crosstalk 00:10:21].

Craig: Right, when you say the p-word, people go, “I’m too old for that.”

Caitlin: I know, I know. Exactly. It turns them off. They have this idea of extreme athletic endeavor. [00:10:30] Maybe, “Play vision?” There’s some other way I’m sure we can describe it. Basically, I think it’s probably the most valuable thing anyone can learn from Parkour, which is why I think that people should try Parkour no matter what they’re coming from. Architects, city planners, [00:10:47] even people running companies. This is going to change the way you see your world. This is no longer a sidewalk. This is my stage. This is no longer scaffolding. These are pull-up bars. This is a jungle gym. This is no longer [00:11:00] a bench where I’m going to sit. This is my playground.

Craig: Right. I go into New York City. I’m like, “Look at all this scaffolding.”

Caitlin: For most people their experience of New York City, and I hear this so many times when people come visit me is there’s this oppressiveness to the city. Everything is paved and everything is … There’s rules and pedestrians walk on the sidewalk and the cars go here, and the buildings go there. Public, private, this, that. Everyone in its place.

Craig: Delineated and explicit.

Caitlin: Gridded out, right. [00:11:30] Then, everything is policed. All of that leaves this sense of oppression. If you don’t have this vision, and like what this vision enables is you walk out into and see and realize no, this isn’t somewhere I’m forced to be! This is a place of extreme opportunity. This is a playground. This is like the ultimate place to live, the most joyful place to live! The most freeing place to live because I can now … everything here is a tool for me to explore and improve myself, [00:12:00] and that is so powerful. When you start to see your world as something more in line as like a tool and an obstacle to interact with, play with, you’re going to take that lesson and look at other obstacles in your life. Your relationships, your job, your work, your health even. All these things are going to be so strongly ultimately affected by this tiny little change of yourself and your city.

Craig: Change your perspective.

Caitlin: Exactly. [00:12:30] Across the board. That’s what we’re trying to do at The Movement Creative even is: How can we take this really powerful idea, experience in Parkour and bring it to a larger group of people as a part of play because that’s what play could do. This is our look at play.

Craig: A couple of the previous interviews, I’ve been talking about balance and sort of digging into flow state and finding what some traditions call the infinite moment. [00:13:00] One way to access that is through balance. I also think, this is my personal opinion, I also think you can access that same idea through Parkour vision. When you encounter a new space and you have that little momentary pause, and you’re looking at that space in a new light, that almost seems to make time slow down. I think you can also get into flow state that way by seeing the novelty in how you would interact with a space.

Caitlin: Absolutely. I think it also give you a deeper appreciation for [00:13:30] the spaces that you’re in. I’ve talked to so many people who when they experience Parkour vision, or they start to see it and take their first Parkour class and they go out. The whole world is kind of new to them. Where like before– and a lot of times people tune out when you walk. I’m in New York City, so people tune out when they walk around. They’re on their phones. You stop paying attention to the small details around you because they’ve always been irrelevant, but realizing that there’s nothing irrelevant about your environment. [00:14:00] This isn’t just a curb. This isn’t just a barrier keeping me out of here. Before where they were just elements in your background that create the scenery, they’re now again pieces of your playground. People talk about having these really powerful, almost spiritual kind of experiences in public spaces and in everyday spaces right after they start learning how to do Parkour because [00:14:30] they realize all these things that they’ve been missing out on.

Craig: Right. They’ve been enabled. They were enabled to originally and someway along the way they lost that. Then, they’ve been enabled again and that’s a very powerful feeling.

Caitlin: Yes, exactly. That’s exactly what … Having met so many people who had this experience, you just want to keep giving that experience to more people. That’s what these invitations are through our programming, through our design. How can we keep inviting more people to open their eyes to [00:15:00] re-engage with movement, re-engage with play, and to start seeing their world as a much more richer place to live than what they might have otherwise perceived it to be. You can rise above the oppression of New York City and realize it’s a playground. That’s powerful. That’s going to change the way you interact with your world and your life.

As kids, we all had Parkour vision. We jumped on the couches, and we climbed our countertops. Everything was our playground. Right? [00:15:30] As we grew up, you get deeper into school, academics become competitive. You’re dissuaded from play and moved into competitive sports.

Craig: Right. There are only so many hours, so why don’t you do something that leads to a scholarship?

Caitlin: Exactly. To get into college. Then, when you’re in college, you’re competing for the best grades to get the best job. Then, after college you’re competing to get married faster than your peers, and have a kid, have a house, and there’s all this … Everything in your life is so systematic and it’s [00:16:00] about achieving something.

Craig: Anytime you want to do something different, you have to explain that. It’s automatically assumed that you’re going to be on the track.

Caitlin: Why would you do that if it’s not going to help you get to that thing that everyone wants obviously, because everyone wants it. I say sarcastically.

Craig: When you get back into playing as an adult, you re-discover what you set on a shelf 20, 30 years ago.

Caitlin: Exactly. That’s like when you find Parkour. Some people find obstacle course racing or Capoeira or this playfulness. They realize that [00:16:30] there’s this thing about play that’s very different than all these other aspects of our lives. When you’re competing or your trying to be the best or trying to achieve something, like winning is about winning. You want to be number one. You want to be better than everyone else. However, in play winning is about belonging. It’s about continuing to play. It’s about keeping the question open, exploring more, collaborating, asking, “How can we do it different?” You’re not trying to beat someone.

Craig: We’ve all learned this going on. Now, [00:17:00] let’s make it hard. Now, you have to go over the bar and then …

Caitlin: Exactly. You’re trying to grow together versus try to be better than one another. That’s very different in terms of mindset outlook. Imagine getting that mindset of play, experiencing that play mindset again, which is this Parkour vision, this play mindset. Right? Bringing that back into other aspects of your life. Realizing that I don’t have to compete to win. I can win by belonging. I can win by exploring. I can win by … There’s other [00:17:30]

Craig: There’s certainly other places that pays great dividends. There’s a deep aspect to how your mind works. We all know that a lot of times you sleep on something and in the morning you have the idea that solves the problem, but that goes even deeper. When you play, you’re being creative in a continuous process.

Caitlin: Yeah, it’s a very rich social and cultural exchange.

Craig: If you can bring that back into your work and the way that you drive and the way that you walk and all the things you do normally, you could be operating at that [00:18:00] deeper, that more rich level the whole time.

Caitlin: It also changes your value system. When you’re playing to belong, when you’re playing and facing things as challenges for yourself. Imagine if you were making decisions about your future, not pivoting from a place where you’re saying, “I need to be better than this person.” Or, “I need to be the best, on the top.” Whatever is it. That’s what winning is. Rather you’re coming from a place, “How can I grow myself?” Without thinking about the other people in the room. What’s best for me? What’s most [00:18:30] interesting? What if we all followed our creative whim versus trying to beat out Joe over there?

003 – Interview with Thomas Droge

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Episode Summary


Is there a story you would like to share?

Craig: Thomas, is there a story that you would like to share with us?

Thomas: Yes, Craig.

Craig: Good, because I thought you were going to say, “No.”

Thomas: It’s funny the weight that comes with the phrase, “Is there a story you’d like to tell us?”

Craig: Right. What’s the statute of limitations on …

Thomas: Yeah, exactly. Right?

Craig: [00:25:30] In Arizona there’s a law –

Thomas: Motorcycle racing and … Right

Craig: I know, right. I miss those days.

Thomas: So, I’m a Chinese medicine doctor. I’ve been doing it forever. I spent a lot of time in my life, professionally, learning everything I could about western medicine, and everything I could about Chinese medicine, and trying to figure out everything I could possibly know about doctoring at this very [00:26:00] high level. Although I would always tell people that I was doing it because I wanted to be good at it, I was really doing it because I wanted to be smarter than the smartest people I knew in the field. Then I would spend my time trying to check in and see. So, I’d go hang out with really smart doctors or people with IQs over 160, and I’d hang out with them and I’d like test my knowledge all the time to see if I was keeping up.

And [00:26:30] I spent all this time in my life going around testing myself and other people. I ended up in this constant state of judgment of like, “Am I smart enough?” and “Are you smart enough?” And I would do both of these things. And I became really close with a local doctor here in the Lehigh Valley named Kristin Reihman, who’s amazing. She’s a family medicine doc, and we ended up doing a lot of training together in Lyme Disease. I would hang out with her and we [00:27:00] would talk about life at the hospital, and in private practice, and what’s it like for her to practice medicine, and all the sort of limitations that kept showing up in her life where she couldn’t do the things that I would do in a treatment room because the law was so strict around what a medical doctor could or couldn’t do.

I found myself spending time with her talking. And I remember, specifically, [00:27:30] sitting with her one day and we talking about Lyme Disease, and we were talking about medicine, and healing, and the whole process of how bodies, and people, and sprits all change, and she looked at me and she said, “Why do you spend all this time trying to show me what you know?” And she just caught me totally sideways, like “Why are you doing that? Like, you’re brilliant.” “But I’m just curious.”

And she was being [00:28:00] completely honest, and I said, “Oh, you noticed that.” And I started to talk to her about it, and she said, “Yeah. I think that,” she said, “You know, I think you’re brilliant. I think you’re incredible, but I think you don’t need to, I don’t think you need to do that,” and it was so interesting because she’s a very like gentle, giving person, and it was somehow, she gave me this permission to just accept [00:28:30] myself for who I am. Somehow that just flipped the switch in my brain, and the second she said that I realized that every place I’d been testing I was trying to be good enough, and then get someone to tell me I wasn’t bad. The second she did that I think I let go of like thirty things I was trying to do that I didn’t actually care about at all.

Craig: Crossed those right off.

Thomas: Including western medicine, which I was like, “I don’t actually care that much about western medicine.” I really don’t. And I [00:29:00] was like, “and that’s fine,” and I just got so free in that moment. And I mean, I can’t thank her enough, because it literally was, like for whatever reason in that moment in time, she just turned the key and this giant cage just sprung away from me, and all of a sudden I could be free to do anything I wanted to do, the way I wanted to do it, and that was great.

I want people to know that what you are, and who you are, and the way that you move through [00:29:30] the world, is the best way that you can be, and the less time that you spend trying to get some authorities approval, or run away from some fear of who you wish you hadn’t been in the past, or what you hadn’t done, or who other people thought you were, the more you can let go of all those things and just be you, the freer you will be and the more amazing you will be.