010 – Interview with Mat Poprocki

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Episode Summary

Mat Poprocki does what he loves. Formally a visual artist, he is now a movement artist who likes to play and overcome obstacles. He discusses the challenges he’s faced and how he rediscovered his artistic expression through Parkour.

On being just a normal person

Craig: Mat, I know you don’t want me to put on a pedestal, but I want to sort of drag you out a little bit further. A lot of the things that you have described, you’ve left out some of the details of the challenges that you really went through, and things were much more difficult than they sound.

I want to just sort of put you on the spot a little bit to get you to explain why you believe that you’re not special. Why do you believe [00:23:30] that this is just a regular way to live?

Mat: Yeah, that’s the thing. Sometimes I think to myself that I’m just normal. That I’m just your average guy. A lot of these things that I do isn’t something that is a supernatural feat. That I have something really super special that somebody can’t have themselves. I see everything I do as what an average [00:24:00] human can do. We go through life, and we have negative things happen to us. This is all normal.

Craig: Right.

Mat: We all get this opportunity to do this and see the world like this and be able to respond in this way. So once I started to do this, then my life transformed in all different ways then I possibly could [00:24:30] imagine. So when people who know me, different family members or friends that I’ve known for years, they think, “Oh wow, well Mat can do it, but I can’t do it.” You know?

You could totally do it. It’s completely possible to do it. I mean I don’t feel like what I did was too special, but maybe it might have been just making the right decision, which is definitely hard, but it’s completely possible.

[00:25:00] So I have my doubts as well. As an average person, I think “Man, there are so many other people that are talented than me.” And I see them in my life. They come to the gym. They can do awesome tricks that I can’t do. But the thing is that I keep on going anyways. Instead of comparing myself [00:25:30] to other people, I see everybody else is on a different path in their life.

We’re all in different stages. We’re all learning different lessons, and somebody might be very talented at one thing, and somebody might be very talented at another. So what I do, is I concentrate on the things that I’m talented, and I’m good at. I might not be the most talented athlete. I might not be on the Red Bull Art of Motion.

Craig: Right, or the best business person, or the best family guy, whatever.

Mat: [00:26:00] Yeah, but I wake up, and I do what I love. That overrides and overpowers where I lack in different skills. My love and my creativity brings me out of that. So I see myself as a very average, regular person, but since I’m doing what I love, and I believe in what I’m doing, that I can go on through my life and seemingly do these very impressive things. I [00:26:30] also believe anybody else can do this too. All you need is some challenges and a good vision.

Craig: A focused mindset.

Mat: Yeah, a good pair of glasses.

Is there a story you would like to share?

I was hesitating to drop this personal story. I am always aware I could hurt someone’s feelings or so. But I think each reason for practise is personal. Some need to prove something to the self. The fact is, we all interact on totally different levels.

When I started squatting, it was after 9 years in Parkour and straight after separation with my ex-girlfriend. I will save you the story about that relationship, I will tell just “this is how you learn to back someone”.

When I went squatting, it was to extend philosophy of “impossible”. I don’t know many people in here I think, hardly anyone knew me before my transformation. The weakest, with curled back, glasses, diction disfunctions, child of an alcoholic. I didn’t have friends. I wasn’t “cool”. I was drawing for whole days, knowing I can afford hardly anything. Here, in Poland, we have german prices and ukrainian salaries. I was escaping home. I was sad. More books I read, more aware of something wrong around I was.

My first pk team… I loved guys for the passion. At some point there were about 22 of us. But nor for long. Lack of time (“I need to go for a beer!”), energy (“but I like smoking!”), knowledge (“my back used to be like this for my entire life!”) made us fall apart. Then we created first ever polish sports club that treated about Parkour.

And here I am getting towards important things.

Lack of any knowledge and any older practitioners made people that jump a bit further think they are better than anyone. I am doing this for 12 years now. I used to play basketball before. I had to become stronger, more endurant, more jumpy. I started Parkour trainings, because I have learned that is training method that could improve any skills. Other, non-sportive skills were waiting for their order at that point.

I got supported from Parkour Generations. Some say they wanted to use me. Some say I was fit for this crew. The fact is, while my other colleagues were like “come on , just jump”, they were happy to give me tasks, put some responsibility on me, finally I git involved as a coach, when we realised I can explain, show, break other person fear. For me, who comes from total darkness, it is relatively easy. In 2013 Adapt was hard I have heard. I missed 0.04% to get 100%.

Squatting was real school. I knew who I am. That time I wanted to learn. I knew there are people who already don’t want to deal with money anymore. We built from what we found. Ate what we got. Helped local communities. Involved many people in different activities. We turned some homeless guys into serious artists and any other kind of activists. After 5 months I found I am on constant holiday, that was time to get back and help my mom. During ghat 5 months I did 2 big workshops in Poland. That’s how my country learned there is someone who actually can push stuff forward.

Unfortunatelly, after coming back many people were like “who da fuck you think you are?”. This is how I got separated from the scene I had built. Biggest gatherings, shows, tv interviews, but never any dirty business – no shit ads, promoting any organisations or activities I wouldn’t agree with. When I found what honesty actually is, I started transforming – my back got straight, shoulders strong, my belly went back, even my sight got improved. I got rid of most of toxic behaviours and stopped being where there are still present (yep, that includes my closest family).

I knew I am not going to force and push between ones that haven’t experienced what I did. I seem crazy for many. Regardless, I run my own academy, set from A to Z by myself. I still keep high standard and I often see people are not ready for this, but ones that are, come back stronger, more confident, they get healthy in less than two months! All of them – rich, poor, kids, adults, sportives and non-sportives. I teach performers and actors. I run school classes now.

I was opposed to polish federation, as competition was “the only” to be presented. And there is about 5 fairly working academies around my country. Now I got that nice feeling when that association (I honestly don’t know if it is official now) got opposed fig. We are all growing up and see easy ways are to trap us.

By all this I am trying to say, Pakour is way more than just a performance. I know we tried to promote it as a sport (which is a huge promotion from ‘spiritual’ ones), but for me, despite I can fairly call myself “an expert”, term “training method” suits better. We can improve literally anything this way. And I proved you can survive, create and have fun without sacrificing yourself. So far none of “big sports organisations” succeed. Examples? Motor sports – ads of energy drinks and ciggies. Football? Everything that is bad. The most fair disciplines about advertising are lifting competitions, as performers “don’t do anything spectacular”, and we live in world of constant show and instant gratification.

I see ones defending Montpellier show, I can hear voices about “progression”. From my perspective, it is like we were trying to exchange one illness for other. We are here to encourage each other, not to prove that “I am the best”. Noone is! How would we compare? What are the standards? Better start conditions? Cleaner life? Longer legs? Power of the worldwide community lies in unity and different skills of different people. I have passed stunt school. My notes were so high I got into stunt crew instantly. I see no reason to tun around screaming “I an the best!”. That is what you supposed to hear from your students, you know.

I think our miscommunication and lack of trust comes from lack of specific experiences. I did everything I could to see if I can fully trust myself and what are situations Parkour would be really useful. You’d need to see me getting squats, without using any help, any tools, in the middle of the day. Laurent reminds of ethics often. Some people are not honest against themselves. Some do everything to please parents or other people. Some get asked – you train for so long and you get nothing? I understand motivation of some. After all, when you jump, you are alone.

Some people don’t get sense of “we start together and finish together”. Some get pissed off because people around think slow. Some get this mad they shut people down instead of opening them. And some are constantly surrounded with friends that have no issues, they only want to jump. And use the opportunity, when cannot create anything in their own.

When it comes to Adapt, I think that is the best accessible tool I have experienced. I have heard a lot about it, money issues, trust issues. Have heard Yamakasi hate PkG. in fact, it makes people meet, learn and give the responsibility, and that is why I want it in Poland. I don’t mind “competition” when it comes to other schools. Yep, capitalism, yep, something, but or we create, or build ourselves to get sold to someone that is going to exchange us when we are tired/injured/old/independent. Parkour/ADD as a tool to build the better self, right? We can base on personal experiences.

I’d be happy to see “ethic commision” or something. Trust is not easy to gain. I see no reason to trust anyone that only gives money. Personally, if I wanted to be a prostitute, I’d chose classic way. Much love you all!

An experience of urban exploration

This is a story of an urban exploration adventure I had with parkour people, going to the top of a big bridge in NYC.

The way up was exciting but very safe. We had to a little easy beam balancing and climbing when we realized we were on the wrong side of the freeway to reach our access point and then some very simple and unexposed climbing. After that it was a night hike, ascending a metal staircase that was almost a ladder. With every level we climbed, past crisscrossing girders and huge cables like harp strings, more of the city revealed itself. At the peak of the stairs, we climbed a ladder that went through the center of a dark, vertical cave of metal in the ceiling. Through that cylindrical hole we emerged into a dusty metal box of a room with no lights and graffiti covered windows. I thought we’d reached a dead end, but then saw one side of the room was lit by moonlight filtering through a space big enough to climb through. We pulled ourselves up through that gap and then squirmed out a porthole window into the fresh night air on top of the bridge.

I tested the ground beneath me to see how strong, how slanted, how dusty it was, how far in each direction until the world dropped away. Then, satisfied that I could relax and enjoy, I let the panoramic view of the city wash over me.

My first impression was just a mass of twinkling lights: shimmering reflections on the water, the massive yellow moon low on the horizon, and clusters of dark geometry implied by shining windows. The bridge commanded my attention below like an epic, sci-fi version of yellow brick road. I felt like Spider-Man up somewhere so impossible, where in my peripheral vision a red light flashes intermittently to warn away airplanes.

Then the epic scale of the human project around me really hit me. I had read that day that 8.5 million people live in New York City. To see the length of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens; mountains of metal, hundreds of docked ships that carry cargo from around the world so the city can subsist; to see cars pass by underneath each with a driver going somewhere important to them, and in every direction more windows into someone’s home or workplace than I can count… to then realize NYC is small compared to places like Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai… to think about how transformed the human experience is in these huge cities on a millennium timescale… I felt the scale of it like a thrum in my chest. It hit me with a visceral power that I don’t think I would have get if I’d been in a crowd of tourists on the top floor of the Empire State Building, although I can’t explain why.

I settled into a good vantage point facing Manhattan and the nearly full moon. The members of our little group navigated their experience of this epic, transgressive moment: one friend challenging himself to experience the height with more risk and exposure; a couple of us balancing the desire to preserve with photos against the unfiltered “authenticity” of raw experience. We chatted about the view, about why people are so drawn to vistas, and soon we were just joking around like we might do anywhere. I realized I kept forgetting to really see what was around me, but there’s only so long I can sustain amazement, and sometimes it’s nice to just chat with a background view.

Eventually, it felt like time to come down and go to bed; at this point it was about 4am. We went back through the window, through the gap, down the ladder cave, down the winding, steep stairs, and did our little bit of climbing to cross back into the boundaries of everyday life.

Thoughts on the 2017 Art of Retreat

This weekend I attended The Art of Retreat in NYC with many of the community leaders, business owners and athletes that have been directly responsible for the growth and progress of our young sport. Collecting my thoughts will be difficult so we’ll see how this goes.

I thought I was attending the event to discuss with others how and why we should form a national governing body for the American communities – after the first day of governance discussion with Eugene Minogue and Victor Bevine it became very clear to me that the solution to our communal plight does not lie within what others have done in the past, but rather within the parameters that are unique to the American market. While it was good to hear an international opinion ultimately the formation of our governance (or decision against governance) must come from the hearts and minds of American athletes and business owners that understand that nature of our capitalist democracy. This much you probably already knew.

In my opinion we cannot expect to grow in a calculated way as a national sport if we remain unorganized. It has been invaluable for each region to define its own marketplace and practices but I believe in order to grow exponentially we must level the playing field and start getting better about transparency of business practice and research so that all can benefit where few have prospered. In each region people are blindly having to make the same mistakes and jump through hoops that older entrepreneurs have already navigated – and we have the power to change that. By each organization and region investing in a governing body that is dedicated to the preservation and innovation of our sport we ensure peer review instead of monopoly.

There is of course the American sentiment that a government was made to get in a citizen’s way but we have the power to formulate and structure any system that we want. When the Founding Fathers and the members of the Constitutional Convention met to decide secession from the British Empire they were not purely reacting to foreign oppression, they were using foreign oppression as a focusing device to ensure a future for American citizens and businesses. They did not expect to topple the British Empire but merely to ensure that the future of our nation rested within the hands of her people. We do not have the power and resources to defeat FIG if they have their mind set on putting parkour in Olympics, but we can control the growth and innovation of the American communities through spreading out the workload so many have contributed to in order to strengthen our sport nationally by investing in young entrepreneurs.

I see the culture of excellence Brandee Laird Rene Scavington and Dylan Polin have instilled in their communities and it excites me for the future generations of our movement. I look at how Justin Sheaffer and Caitlin Pontrella can organize an event and I see a young athlete learning how to host a jam or event in their own community. I listen to Alice B. Popejoy and Craig Constantine efficiently facilitate discourse and communication that could improve every business in this nation’s sport. I witness the example set by entrepreneurs like Dan Iaboni Ryan Ford and Amos Rendao emulated by the current and next generations of our sport and with a concentrated effort on all our parts I believe we can develop a system that enriches our current businesses and emboldens our other community members to contribute to the marketplace with all our support.

I am still learning my role to play in all of this but I am convinced that I can use my ability to communicate to bridge these companies and communities together. I am humbled by the opportunity to learn from each of you and I look forward to the future we will craft together together. You have all inspired me for the better part of a decade and I am dedicated to returning the favor. When I think about this sport I am filled with nothing but pride and admiration (besides chronic knee pain). Thank you for your support and love as always.

009 – Interview with Chris Keighley

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Episode Summary

Chris Keighley helps me muscle up the strength to understand challenge. We discuss its rewards, hazards, and how it can be a powerful tool for personal growth from day one. He shares stories from behind the scenes of the 1,000 Muscle-Up Challenge, and talks about finding challenge in more mundane activities, like building a tire tower at the Gerlev International Gathering.

References

On the value of challenge

Craig: If I remember correctly it was 14 and a half hours. Why would anyone want to put themselves through not necessarily that specific challenge but a challenge of that magnitude in general? What’s the potential payoff?

Chris: To learn something about yourself. Modern life doesn’t give you many chances of seeing what you’re capable of.

Craig: [00:06:30] Opportunities for growth.

Chris: Yeah. Seeing where your limits are. Yeah, I didn’t get better at muscle-ups that day for sure …

Craig: I think the quality went down.

Chris: Yeah. It was three days before I could do another one. I came out of it knowing that when things got really awful I could still keep going. Then when things got really awful I still had a bunch of great people around me that were able to [00:07:00] either …

Craig: Understand the viewpoint maybe?

Chris: Yeah. Also, I don’t know if it was inspire me or motivate me or just that energy kept me going. I wasn’t doing it because other people were there watching. I didn’t care what they thought of me. That was not the boost I got from having other people around. It was just other people in the space either going through the same thing or supporting us and bringing us cups [00:07:30] of teas.

Craig: Yeah, there were people helping.

Chris: Or doing their own challenges in the background or just staying awake, in the case of my, now the strongest Keighley, but at the time a much, much smaller, younger, and weaker Keighley.

Craig: Right away what comes to mind is where did you learn that lesson originally? You weren’t born with that lesson. Where did that come from? How did you learn that that was a good way to seek growth was to seek these kinds of really big challenges?

Chris: I [00:08:00] think that probably … Look, I can’t pinpoint when I came across that as a very specific, “Ah, this is eureka moment of this is the mindset I want to adopt”. I think it was a gradual influence of probably people and training over time. Guys like Stephane Vigroux when they were coaching in London and coming up with, “Yes, we’ll do some wonderful technical movement training” and we’ll just do some physical training but as a more common way [00:08:30] of just making yourself stronger.

But then just all these little challenges, whether it was stories of the challenges that they used to do … That’s how Stephane [Vigroux] started. He went to learn from David and he was just some scrawny little teenager. David [Belle] would be like, “Oh, go do 1000 pushups.” Steph would go away and do it and come back like, “What’s next?”

Craig: Then you’re on-call for seven days and whenever I call you or text you you do it immediately, right?

Chris: Right. The influence of those kind of people and probably the training they had coming [00:09:00] up as they were learning about disciplining themselves of … Yeah, this challenge is going to give you more than just the training of the challenge.

Just over time I’d see good guys like Steph [Stephane Vigroux] in London…

Thomas Couetdic… [otherwise known as] Thoma Dubois… was also in London…

Kazuma. Kazuma came and taught with…

It wasn’t even Parkour Generations as it was in the very earliest months. But, I’d say parkour coaching as it was in the first [00:09:30] three or four months and then eventually Parkour Generations.

For sure, Forest [Francois Mahop] and Dan as well.

A very strong ethos of both tough physical challenge but as a way of building you mentally as well as physically. I never went in search of that. I think it was definitely I went there to get stronger …

Craig: Slow discovery process that you realized, “This really works”, right?

Chris: Yeah. Both, “I want more of it” because [00:10:00] when you succeed in a challenge that you’re not sure about the sense of success and achievement is almost infinitely greater than succeeding in a challenge that you knew you’re going to do. I don’t think I was ever chasing that high but it certainly gives you a very strong feeling of pride in yourself and what you can do.

Craig: Right. Self-validation.

Chris: Yeah. I don’t know if I’d necessarily characterize it as validating it myself as [00:10:30] much of almost like a pleasant surprise about yourself. It’s like, “Ah, actually, I can do this.”

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.

References

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.

References

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.

References