005 – Interview with Max Henry

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Craig: Hello, I’m Craig Constantine.

Max: Hi, I’m Max Henry.

Craig: …and this is Parkour, They Said. Max Henry is a native New Yorker. Recently, he’s been traveling across America by road, writing his book, “The Parkour Roadmap,” and pausing to explore and pick some amazing banjo. Now that his book is done, he’s agreed to sit still for just a few minutes.

Max has always been fascinated by movement. He started with baseball, turned left into gymnastics, and continued [00:00:30] on to three years of state and regional competitions. In 2007, five years after moving on from gymnastics, Max discovered Parkour. Initially impressed as much by the philosophy behind the movements, as the movements themselves, by the time he saw his first rail precision, he was hooked. In 2010, Max was invited to join a group of World Free Running and Parkour Federation athletes on a road trip around the wild, wild west, kick-starting his personal progression as a practitioner.

Since 2011, he’s been [00:01:00] working as a professional Parkour athlete with a who’s-who list of companies including Assex, American Eagle, Hulu, the NBA, Nerf, Red Bull, Smart Car, and he doubled for Jax in the movie Tracers. He’s had the opportunity to coach internationally with the WFPF, American Parkour, The Movement Creative, and Parkour Generations Americas. Outside of Parkour, Max majored in mathematics — which might explain how he sticks all those rail precisions — and minored in music at Hofstra University. If you ever manage to catch him resting, [00:01:30] he’ll likely be singing, playing an instrument, or tucked away somewhere cozy reading epic fantasy, 20th century American poetry, or books about mountains.

Welcome, Max!

Max: Thank you. That was an excellent, excellent job. Very good.

What else would you like to share?

#TheyBelieveWeAreLikeInGOT
#TheGameIsNotOverYet
#WinterIsComingButSummerIsStronger
#WeAreNotGymnastics
#FightTheFIG
#SteelMindStill

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...

#WeAreNotGymnasticsAsWeAreNothingElseButArtDuDéplacementFreerunningParkour

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.

Yann HNAUTRA
YAMAKASI and ADD Co-founder

004 – Interview with Caitlin Pontrella

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Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.

Caitlin: I’m Caitlin Pontrella.

Craig: This is Parkour, They Said.

Caitlin Pontrella is an architectural designer and illustrator based in New York City. She is co-founder of The Movement Creative, a social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of others through movement education and design. Caitlin directs The Art of Retreat, an annual education and leadership conference for Parkour, and the North American Women’s Parkour Gathering, an annual gathering [00:00:30] for women practitioners. Welcome, Caitlin.

Caitlin: Hi Craig.

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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Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.

Thomas: And I’m Thomas Droge.

Craig: And this is Parkour, They Said. Thomas has been practicing Tai Chi and Qigong and many other consciousness awakening practices for the past 30 years. He’s been a healer, an acupuncturist, a bodyworker, a herbalist, a truth teller, and spirit whisperer for the past 20 years. He’s taught Chinese medicine, Qigong, and meditation classes across the country and has attended numerous trainings in Daoism, Chinese medicine, meditation, and healing, and [00:00:30] of course he practices Parkour. Welcome Thomas.

Thomas: Hey, what’s happening?

Craig: We’re doing a podcast recording.

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.

002 – Interview with Jonny Hart

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Craig: Hello. I’m Craig Constantine.

Jonny: And I’m Jonny Hart.

Craig: And this is Parkour, They Said. Jonny Hart has studied fine arts at … Wait, what does this say? He teaches for Los Angeles but went to school in New York?

Jonny: I went to both.

Craig: I’m so confused. Okay. Wait. He’s from Los Angeles and then he went to school …

Jonny: …at the L.A. Academy of Figurative Art. And then went to New York Academy of Art.

Craig: And then went to New York, and went to an outside class called [00:00:30] Fit Strong?

Jonny: Get Strong.

Craig: Get Strong, right. And met Jesse Danger. This is so complicated. All right, let’s try this again. This is Jonny Hart and he’s … You know what, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. He uses Parkour to teach art to kids, he uses art anatomy to teach Parkour to kids. It’s really complicated, we’ll try and untie some of it.

What are you working on now?

I am working on developing more sustainability in my movement practice and training. I am trying to work through a chronic injury or at least learn to work around it better. I am also trying to learn patience with this, reminding myself that I have my whole life to train…if I maintain myself well. I am continuing to develop the foundation for a lifetime of movement, training, and playing. I am learning to balance training and recovery and my individual recipe for self-care that will hopefully sustain my ability to use my body the way I want to. I am learning to listen to the subtle cues when my body is asking for something and then make accommodations for this. It is frustrating to feel limited, but the limitations wax and wane and I learn that my body is different from one day to the next. Its needs are different from one moment to the next, but if I listen well and I adapt as necessary then I am able to continue moving along as intended. I used to see (or hope that) progress was a forward projection, but I’m realizing more and more that progress is not linear and that challenge has many forms. When I adapt to receive both the ebbs and the flows more gracefully I better align myself with my goals, in spite of any set backs. It is all part of the same path. I have to remind myself to be grateful for all of my vast capabilities and not be so hard on myself for the areas where there is still much room for growth. With the proper approach I have the opportunity to experience anything I want to. I am trying to create an enlivening and worthwhile experience in the way I use/experience my body- a lifelong and sustainable experience.

How has your practice affected your life?

My life changed so dramatically it’s hard to sum it all up! So many opportunities have become available. There are obviously physical benefits, but I am stronger in many ways. It has taught me to overcome adversity and challenge logically and systematically. But there was I time when I wasn’t supported. I was even told that it wasn’t a good life choice to dedicate myself to the practice because I couldn’t turn it into a career. The money never mattered to me, It was the training I was in love with. Now I’m a Senior Coach for Parkour Generations Americas, Boston and I couldn’t be happier.

How has your practice affected your life?

Moreso now than when I was actively training, a few of the ethos of parkour have really shaped my life. Specifically, the ideas of “leaving a place better than how you left it” and “saying I can’t really just mean it’s not a priority for me right now” have really become the go-to sayings in my life. Those two sayings alone have driven me to pursue higher education, do awesome projects in the tech world, and all-around be a better person.

Years later, those two sayings have stuck for me.

Also, I think that the overall openness and friendliness of the parkour community is still something that I seek out in whatever kind of job or organization I am working in.

001 – Interview with Adam McClellan

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Craig: Hello, I’m Craig Constantine.

Adam: …and I’m Adam McClellan.

Craig: …and this is Parkour, They Said.

Adam McClellan is a Director of the Americas branch of Parkour Generations, the largest professional parkour and coaching organization in the world. As an ADAPT qualified Level Two Coach, he is regularly invited to teach and speak at events. Adam hosts classes and workshops in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, which has become a hotspot of activity on the East Coast. He offers expert knowledge in coaching and inspiring [00:00:30] children, a specialization he has introduced into the ADAPT Level One course curriculum in the United States. Adam’s charismatic coaching talent makes a significant positive impact at each parkour event he attends.

Welcome, Adam.

Adam: Hey, Craig. Thank you.

What are your goals?

While it has improved noticeably even in the two years since I began training, there’s still a big lack of diversity in parkour, especially among coaches and other highly visible practitioners. As welcoming as everyone was when I started training, I couldn’t help noticing that when I looked around, I didn’t see anyone like me. It took me a long time to start feeling comfortable talking about myself, because there were no conversations happening, nothing to give me any indication of how people might react. The story I hear over and over again from people who fall outside the archetype of young, athletic and masculine, is “I loved it so much that I stayed, even though…” And every time, all I can think is, what about the people for whom that wasn’t enough, or the people who never tried in the first place because the images they’ve seen don’t include anyone like them?

The parkour community is amazingly accepting, and really does believe that there is room for anyone, but it’s not always very good at showing that when someone comes to train for the first time, feeling overwhelmed and out of place among a lot of people who don’t look like them. I’m working towards coaching myself, and in doing so I want to talk more openly about my own differences, to provide what bit of visibility I can. I also want to start conversations, with coaches, community leaders, and the community at large, about what we can do better to support people from underrepresented groups. Parkour has changed my life, largely in ways directly related to how I deviate from the popular image of a parkour practitioner, and I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have that experience.