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Do and Jutsu in Parkour

When I asked what I could but explained the difference between the Judo and the jujutsu, My sensei used the metaphor of the mountain. I try to remember it and write it.

For my master the martial art is like a mountain and the journey (life) leads us to the Summit. But as a real mountain, one side is Rocky and the other hilly, a cold side, the other sunny. When you prepare for Ascension, from below, You can have an overview and decide how you want to climb: for the quickest and most direct trail slow and sweet. It is at this stage that, in fact, We decide what is our goal: We want to enjoy the view and learn something about the local flora and fauna or prefer to acquire the techniques that allow us to arrive at the top even in the most adverse conditions?

And here is the crux of the matter, jutsu means a method, technique(1), its aim is explicitly functional. Across the end of the do, that means via, Trail(1), is to achieve a certain level of introspection, a profound experience of reality.(2)

In 19th century Japan, with the era of samurai at sunset, the culture changed and technology rendered obsolete, in one way or another, the traditional fighting arts. People wanted to continue to practice martial arts but had to move its attention: This new generation chose as main purpose the self-improvement and spiritual elevation.(2) Then this change in goal resulted in a restructuring, more or less marked, the technical background of the disciplines that, in fact, they no longer had as a priority the efficacy.

We come, At last, Parkour. I think our discipline is in a privileged position compared to Japanese martial arts. The jutsu of parkour, In fact, does not consist in a set of techniques to luxate the joints or behead opponents, but in a general system to overcome obstacles in the environment that you will cross. It is therefore clear that the jutsu parkour can be applied at its most utilitarian without having to breach their ethical principles (or without any legal consequences). Practice jutsu means, For me, draw paths in continuity from a starting point to a predetermined arrival, paying attention:

  • To apply the right series of movements (to avoid wasting energy or time)
  • The harmony of movements that follow each other (because by the fluidity of the succession of muscular tension derives the effectiveness of a series of movements)
  • To ensure low noise impacts (Why "no sound, not shock ")

And the do? Well, the spiritual side of parkour is in overcoming the mental limits, as well as in the continuous strengthening of one's will to progress. Work on do in parkour, For me, is:

  • To complete particularly strenuous conditioning exercises (from a physical point of view but, especially, from the mental) What I propose (to anneal my willpower)
  • Run individual risky movements, that is difficult and potentially dangerous motoriamente (to develop concentration and clarity in times of stress)
  • Refine the techniques (to reply to an aesthetic and functional)

It's good to remember, Anyway, There is a common base at two practices: physical conditioning. Neither the justu Neither the do have a way to express itself if the body is not ready to face obstacles.

For against, There are some specific consequences of the two training modes. Train the jutsu door as a result greater adaptability, a high degree of improvisation as well as the opportunity to see the city as a whole is rich in opportunity and not as a series of rooms ponds and steps required. On the other hand, develop the do refine your precision and more control and "unlock" passages deemed unthinkable.

Let us return for a moment to Japan: considering the jutsu as functional mode and the do tied more to reason to engage in combat, We realize that very few were able to harmonise the two components. These rare circumstances do not justify the conviction that this was the norm or that, from a historical point of view, the jutsu It was identical to the do high ethical purposes.(3)

The fortune of Parkour is right here: the do and the jutsu of parkour are not so difficult to integrate such as those in Japanese fighting arts. Is it possible, for us, develop the two together: relying on the do to develop and give way to a tracked and traced to exit from a specialist or overly aesthetic research.

Notes:

  1. From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
  2. To Do vs Jutsu, Jeff Brooks
  3. From the ancient martial arts, Rats Westbrook

How did your training begin?

Simply put, I saw this amazing guy jumping about at the beginning of Casino Royale and knew it wasn’t just stunt work. After a bit of research I discovered Sebastian Foucan and David Belle. I traded my rock band practice time for parkour training in my first year of college. I embarked on what I call “The Invincible Years” where I would watch a video and naively tell myself I could do it. Not surprisingly I hit a plateau and sought the Yamakasi and Parkour Generations to shape my training into what it is today.

How has your practice affected your life?

My parkour practice has helped me to understand the lessons we are taught in life, and some that are not. Parkour has enabled me to physically experience verbal lessons in a completely metaphorical sense.
Here is the wall. We are trained so see the wall as a barrier to somewhere else. Here is how to get on top of the wall. The wall has become a passage to that other place. What was once a wall is now a passage, a stop is now a go, and a barrier is now a launchpad. Here I deliberately use words that can apply to both parkour and life. The line between them has been blurred which has led to a more authentic version of myself.

What does your practice mean to you?

Parkour to me is like playing. I love to be able to creatively move through my environment, which is also a reason that I was a passionate skateboarder for many years, and why I continue to ski.

Parkour has reinforced my understanding of the different levels of thinking in my brain. Using too much rational thinking in parkour can be dangerous: e.g. considering the risks of balancing at height, or imaging the different ways I could get injured during a movement. I know to shut those thoughts out and just go for it, granted I know a certain maneuver is within my abilities.

I have learned to trust my instinctual judgement of distances and speed required, etc. It’s quite amazing what the human brain can evaluate without rational calculation. My experience has led to me having very good grasp of what I am capable of, and what I am not. This confidence in my abilities is why I have yet to suffer any side-lining injury.

Another thing I love about parkour is that it makes me feel true physical risk; it makes me feel alive. I enjoy putting myself in situations in which my physical abilities are the only things keeping me from suffering major damage. Example: balancing at height. Living a vanilla life of driving to work, sitting at my desk all day, then heading to the gym to use the nautilus machines is too safe. It is not the life I choose to lead.

I live in the Netherlands now, and don’t train parkour much because I haven’t yet met a group of people that train near me. But I still engage in risky physical activities that require strength, endurance, and balance. They are slacklining, rock climbing, and survival training (a Dutch variant of obstacle course racing).

How did your training begin?

My first foray into interesting kinds of fitness actually began with rock climbing about a year before I had even considered Parkour as a possibility. A friend of mine had taken me rock climbing and I was instantly hooked. At the earliest opportunity, I found myself an online deal for a membership at a rock gym that was probably a bit unreasonably far for me to be going everyday, but that didn’t really matter to me at the time. But by the time my membership was expiring, I realized if I wanted to keep this up, I was going to have to find some place just a tad bit closer. Lo and behold, there was a rock climbing gym less than two miles from where I lived.

Looking back at that now, I was probably a bit hasty in picking my gym. Anyways, a while after my switch, I started noticing the signs (I suppose flyers would be more apt). Weekly Parkour classes every Thursday, they said. I didn’t immediately jump at the idea at first. I was a bit apprehensive because it was hard to imagine myself doing something like Parkour. I mean, it was in all the movies, all of the video games, it was so hot right then. I waffled on the idea for a couple months until a new flyer popped up for the start of a new session. By then I was out of excuses and signed up for a drop-in. I walked into class, not knowing what to expect. Blake, the big man himself, was the coach that evening. He instructed us in some simple vaults, rail balancing, and some small precisions. Very basic stuff, but to me it was some of the most fun I’d ever had. I was instantly hooked.

After class, Blake told us about an event they were having called the Boston “Tea Party” Parkour workshop to help say goodbye to one of their guest coaches, Chris Keighley. When I got home that night, I immediately looked up the info and resolved to be there. That Sunday, with its perfect weather, I probably worked harder than I’d ever had up until that point.By the end, I was completely exhausted but extremely satisfied. The next few days, I was sore all over but that didn’t stop me from going to every class I possibly could that week.

And thus began my journey into the world of Parkour.

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There was a moment that just happened only a couple weeks ago, completely unplanned, but I think most if not all great moments in life are unplanned (except maybe babies, depending, but if that’s your case then good luck my friend :D)

After our regular Saturday morning QM, there were two events happening afterward; one group was heading to zip lining up in the Poconos and my group was taking a journey to Mordor up the mountain on the Applachian trail I believe it was called.

We had begun our expedition up once others met up with us, some new faces, some old.
Everyone was in good spirits, our shenanigans soon began as they always do. We played in this aqueduct slope (not sure what they are called but this makes sense to me so I’m gonna roll with it) found some snakes, threw rocks at each other, you know, the good times were happening.

As we moved on from the spot, right next to it, was a metal bridge or lookout over a large area of water (there’s probably a word for this and I know it’s not a pond but we can settle on pond for now). This metal bridge had a door you could access to get to the end of the lookout, but this door was locked so we settled on a mini challenge of a climbing up and walking to the end ourselves. It was an interesting climb on the side of the bridge, thin pieces of metal make for a very unique feeling on the hands.

Once we had gotten up we walked to the end of the lookout, and there is where I saw the jump.

A jump into the water from the lookout

A look over the bars blocking the way of the jump, you could see it was roughly 20 feet or so down. I had mentioned it to the group and so we had done a little rock test. Meaning we grabbed a rock from below the bridge and tossed it to the depths. The rock was swallowed up after a few seconds of fall time; clearly the water was deep enough for a human. So the next part…was to simply do it.

Simply. That was a funny word. A little this and that later, it was getting time to move on so that we didn’t lose the day for the rest of the hike. So I told the group that if I hadn’t gone by the time they descended back to the ground then I won’t do it.

Funny thing though. Josh had stayed behind to be my clothes retriever if I had gone (shirt off, no shoes or socks for water deployment) but as my comrades left me, I felt naked and alone. As if it was just me and this colossal boss I was ill prepared for, no upgrades, no party to back me up; so I walked away and climbed down with Josh and continued on our path.

The rest of the day, that jump plagued my mind. Thoughts simply invaded.

“I felt it, it was right there”
“If you don’t do it, you will regret it when you go home tonight”
“Why couldn’t I just let go”

On and on, a cycle continued through my head. I tried a couple conversations with some of the guys to distract me, but I just ended up losing what they were saying

The walk to the top felt long, it felt like a walk through my own little forest of doubts in my mind

When we reached the top however, a thing of beauty waited.

A view.

A simply nice moment of clarity, sitting on the edge of a mountain with those closest to you in life. Whom like you, want to be stronger for others just as much as they do for themselves.

I felt rich.

And like myself that day, Melissa was challenged with a jump on the mountaintop. A drop precision from one rock to another, a simple jump on ground level, but with the added height makes for a great challenge. In my head I told myself that if she made the jump then I will go back to the bridge and do it. I did not make this vocal because I didn’t want to influence her decision to make the jump.

Making the jump through your own resolve is stronger than doing it for a prize in my opinion.

She eventually made the jump and so my fate was sealed.

After some shenanigans through a cave which in itself is a story on its own. We headed back down to the cars and along the way, the thoughts started coming back, the only thing different this time was that I was not only one being invaded. Austin, Katie and Adam had expressed they would like to join me on the jump and so we made a pact to jump together no matter what.

I vocally expressed this promise that I will jump from that bridge.

Back at Rendevouz in Boston, Max Henry had taught that if you make your intention vocal, you have now bound yourself to it and must commit. I thought that was very interesting and helpful habit to keep, especially for me.

As the bridge approached I could feel the adrenaline kicking and my heart rate rising as I knew what was coming and what HAD to be done.

Like the rise before the drop on a roller coaster.

We climbed up and hopped over the bars and looked out to the depths below us, I felt stronger with others beside me ready to commit to the jump I once looked at alone.
As a collective I could feel what they felt.

And it was reassuring

Adam began the countdown from 5

4

3

2

Right about here we had leaned over leaving only our grip on the rail keeping us on the bridge.

1

Through my peripheral I saw them lean and found myself leaning with them

Finally

I let go

And let out a yell through the fall and entered the water

There are some memorable moments and I have too many to name with this crew, but this one was one for the books for sure

I found that
Fear is a choice
and that some challenges can’t be taken alone

Which makes sense because life would be incredibly difficult going through alone. I guess that’s why we have loved ones to share it with :).

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What Parkour Gave Me

The car pulled into the driveway of the Brookline Teen Center. There were people standing outside, looking cold. I noticed a sculpture made out of metal bars sitting on the fake green grass. The people were standing in a circle around it, and moving their arms in furious circles. My father saw the worried expression written on my face and said, “Ling-li, there is nothing to worry about. You’ll do fine.”

I sat there for a minute or so, working up the guts to get out of the car and join them. I had been getting restless at home and wanted something fun to do. After searching the web for awhile, I finally found what I was looking for: a parkour class near my house. I had always watched videos of people jumping from roof to roof and doing other types of parkour movements, but never thought that I could learn to do what they were doing.

As I got out of the car, the chilly wind whipped my face and left me breathless. I started walking toward the people and noticed that they were all males. They looked very intense and intimidating. There were seven of them and they all looked to be about 5’7’’ at least, and most of them had big bulging muscles. My heart was pounding because of how nervous I was. I turned back toward my dad, but he opened the window and encouraged me to go. My stomach was jittery and my hands couldn’t stop shaking. I walked up to the nearest guy and stuttered, “Is this the parkour class?”

He smiled and said, “Yes, go up to the main desk and sign in.”

I did as he said and ran inside, mostly to get away from all the eyes starring at me, but also because I was already freezing. The woman at the desk gave me a sheet to sign and then told me I was all set to go. I made my way back and the same guy who greeted me gave me a sheet of paper and told me to give this to my parents to sign. I looked back to where my dad had parked, but he had already gone, so I stuffed it in my bag instead. The guy, who was clearly in charge, asked us to gather around him and the four of us did. He took a step forward towards me, singling me out, and said, “Welcome to the family. These are your new brothers, and, guys, this is your new sister.”

I was so shocked that he would use that term to describe the total strangers to me. He took my arm in a grip with his fingers surrounding my forearm. He told me that this was the parkour handshake and that from now on we would greet each other like this every time we saw each other. At that moment I was embarrassed and nervous about being the youngest and the only female there, but as the class progressed I started to feel more comfortable.

The people there were all so nice and I realized that I shouldn’t be worried about fitting in because they already accepted me. I was blown away by my first class, not only because I loved learning new ways to move, but because it made me feel free. During that first class I learned how to incorporate multiple movements together to create one single movement. I was taught to use my background gymnastic skills and to apply them to my environment. I would see a rail and realize I could do a cartwheel or a split on it.

One of the most important skills I have learned from doing parkour is being able to see opportunities. Whenever I walk around I don’t just see rails, walls, benches, or trees; I see wall runs, balancing tricks, vaults, latchets, jumps, etc… I now know many more types of moves and techniques and am able to look at the world and as a big playground, which makes my life so much more exciting.

The people from my first class have become like family to me and have changed my life so much. They have taught me what a loving and supportive community feels like and how to be my best. We train together as much as possible and are constantly trying to expand our knowledge of parkour and movement in general.

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We didn’t know what we were doing but we did it with all of our hearts. Understanding technique, methodology, philosophy was piecing together forum posts in multiple languages, downloading obscure and infrequent videos, and doing our best to physically understand what makes this process possible. We jumped until we couldn’t, we walked tiptoe for miles, balanced on train tracks and visited athletic tracks in the middle of the night. We practiced our vaults, we made up progressions or dealt with the consequences. Things taught in a five minute interaction now took months, or years to hone. Our first handstands were barely a second, “Kong vaults” were three months of being afraid of hitting our knees, every jump was critiqued for silence, every crawl was further, faster than the last. We wandered, looking for possibilities, pushing boundaries in the city and in ourselves, hanging, climbing, sometimes bleeding, and sometimes painting our faces with car grease. We trained all night, we slept under bridges, the city became our teacher, our home, our challenge. I have never felt so alive, and I feel it again, every time I train.

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“Lemons” [Chapter 7 from Vincent Thibault’s book, “Pakour & Art du Déplacement”] simply reminds us that sometimes we need to make lemonade from whatever lemons we find before us.

I am acutely aware of this aspect of Parkour; This searching what is right in front of me for something to do. Initially I felt like a one trick pony. Every time I’d be faced with some little area, I’d stare at it thinking, “I can only do, literally, a step vault. What am I going to do here?!” Yet somehow, I manage to force myself to stand in the face of my ineptitude and to search for inspiration.

Eventually I came up with a sort of “wedge” for the problem. I would seize on, literally, the first thing I could think of. Often that would be something even I felt was ludicrous. But this first ludicrous movement, got me moving. (That’s the wedge.) From there, I invariably saw something else.

Usually the second thing was also ludicrous, but sometimes it was better (whatever “better” might mean to me at the time). So I’d change to doing the second thing. I’d throw my shame and ego to the wind and start doing repitions of whatever that first ludicrous thing was, then the second thing if it was better, and so on. Sometimes, I could only see a single thing which I feared, and so I’d start with ludicrously simple progressions to the thing I feared.

In my mind, I called this “busting rocks”. Pick the biggest, ludicrous rock and smash it. Pick the next biggest rock, and so on. As I smashed, I’d remind myself of something I’d written years ago: “Parkour is the grueling work of self destruction.”

One day, I participated in the most surreal jam session. On a sign. It was just a slightly sloped, big flat sign with a map on it and four skinny legs into the ground. One person did something near it, “interesting,” I thought. Then a second person did a little sliding thing across it. And I thought, “I wish I could do something on there.” And the wedge happened automatically and I thought, “I can try this ludicrous move.” And I tried it, and someone said, “Craig, what are you doing?”. And I failed. And someone else said, “OH! That’s totally a thing!” And in the blink of an eye a dozen world-class traceurs — people whose abilities all boggle my mind — LINED UP to play on this little sign. And for what seemed like eternity, we all took turns trying crazy stuff on a sign, at night, in a busy public square. And passers-by stopped and some even applauded or cheered. And we all ate ice cream and drank milk-shakes as we waited our turn and pondered our next go. And I for one wanted it to never end.

It was the greatest lemon pie I have ever tasted.

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All names stated have been changed and locations will not be mentioned to protect the author and their anonymity.

Alright so it’s story time.

A couple of months ago I opened Facebook to find that I had a new friend request. Now, I normally have a rule where I only accept requests from people I actually know or have met. However, I saw that this guy, let’s call him Arnold, did parkour. At the time I had been going to many different parkour events and figured it was possible I could’ve met Arnold and have completely forgotten. (I’m horrible at remembering new people). So when I saw that we had many mutual friends, I figured, “Why not?” And accepted his request.

A few days later I got a Facebook Message from Arnold. He just wanted to say hi and say how cool it was that I was a girl who trained parkour (insert facepalm here). Naturally, I decided to be nice and replied. For a while we talked about parkour and training and the conversation was pretty normal.

Things started to get mildly creepy when Arnold invited me to come visit him. He wanted me to meet his family and train with him. A part of me wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, after all, I’ve parkour-floored it with many people who I haven’t always known. Still, the guy does live on the opposite side of the globe, so I did my best to politely decline without hurting his feelings. I didn’t want to seem like a complete jerk, after all it could’ve been normal in his culture to do things like that.

And then, inevitably, Arnold asked me if I had a boyfriend. Keep in mind I now know that I have never met Arnold and he also lives in a completely different hemisphere. (AKA no way for us to even meet let alone date). I told him, no I didn’t have a boyfriend, but I was too busy with school work to focus on having a relationship.

This is when everything starts to go downhill.

Arnold proceeds to shower me with flattery saying how smart I am, how beautiful I am, how it’s such a shame I’m single and I need to find someone who appreciates finding a girl who trains parkour. (My internal feminist wanted to reach through my phone screen and give him a piece of my mind, but I refrained). I told him I appreciated him compliments but asked him if he would stop, since I 1. Was not interested in any way whatsoever, and 2. The only things he knew about me was what I was studying in school and that I trained parkour. It was at this point I was beginning to get seriously creeped out.

Arnold apologized and that was that. My school year started up again which meant that I was buried in homework, assignments, projects, and enough papers to keep me busy until Christmas. During the school year I have a habit of ignoring messages and emails that don’t seem particularly urgent. Arnold didn’t like that.

He began to tell me that he wanted to speak to me, he wanted to hear my voice. He started asking me for pictures and videos. (Naturally alarm bells are going off and I refuse to give him anything). I tried to remain as polite and distant as I could, never saying more than necessary and trying not to let on any information about my personal life. I hoped he would get the message and leave me alone. Of course I was wrong.

Then, he started using Facebook Messenger to try and call me. I never answered, of course, and he said he just wanted to speak to me. He thought my feels about him would change if we started talking. I said no. I wasn’t about to pick up the phone and talk to some random creepy guy I had met over the internet. No thank you. I’ve had enough lessons on stranger danger to know that was a colossally bad idea.

Finally, and here’s the punch line: Arnold said he wanted to tell me something. Figuring it can’t get any worse from here I tell him to go ahead.

Arnold told me he wants to marry me.

Yep.

You might want to read that line again.

Marry. Me. A girl who he has never even met. Someone who was just trying to be nice and talk about a common interest.

And he wants to marry me.

Why?

Because I fucking train parkour.

Yep.

Just let it sink in.

Because somehow that fact that I enjoy jumping on shit means that I would love to jump on his dick.

Yep.

Somehow part of me wasn’t all that surprised. And that’s pretty damn sad.

Immediately I’m on high alert, borderline panicking, because holy shit this guy is a creep and what if he tries to stalk me, what if he flies to where I live and tries to kidnap me. I barely know the guy but now I’m going back to everything I’ve said to him, trying to figure out if there’s any way he could possibly track me down. I don’t know what he does for a living. He could be involved with some illegal activity, he could be a drug dealer or a human trafficker. Do I fear for my safety? Should I contact the authorities? If I did, what would the authorities even do? What if I’m making a huge deal out of nothing? But what if I’m not?

Yes, I know that most of these fears are completely irrational but you never know what people in today’s world will do. And that’s the worst feeling in the world. Thinking that you’ve made a new friend, you share a common interest, that this person is someone you can trust, you can have a fun light hearted conversation with. And then shit like this happens. You begin to question and fear and watch over your shoulder for anything suspicious.

Of course I blocked Arnold on all my social media and I am warning my friends who have had contact with him to do the same. As someone who is somewhat paranoid like I am, I don’t want to brush this off as something insignificant. Better safe than sorry and all that shit.

My point is this: just because it’s not happening in your community, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And yes, yes, I have officially learned about the dangers of the internet and blah blah blah. And yes, I am probably never again going to accept a friend request from someone who I haven’t met before. But here’s the thing, I shouldn’t have to go through all this. No girl, who trains parkour or otherwise should have to go through this.

The amount of guys I meet in a year who want to date me simply because I “do parkour” is well into the double digits. I mean, I get it. We parkour girls are pretty bad ass. But we also put up with a lot of shit we shouldn’t have to.

I’ve been cat called and hit on and flirted with when I go out to train. I actively avoid going to local training spots alone out of fear that something will happen there. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So, there’s my story. If you take anything from it, try to learn that this shit does happen. I’m lucky enough to have found a community that doesn’t treat me any differently because I’m a girl. In fact, they push me and encourage me to be the best I can possibly be, and I am eternally grateful for that. But others aren’t so lucky. And my experience goes to show that it really can happen to anyone, even those who have an inclusive community.

Shit like this is what turns females away from parkour, and I don’t blame them. If I wasn’t as experienced as I am when it comes to dealing with sexism, I would walk away from parkour. Luckily, I’m too stubborn for that.
So please, men, keep it your pants and tell others that don’t that they can kindly fuck off. Cause if you don’t, I will. Someone has to, and if it’s not going to be you, than it’s damn well going to be me.

How has your practice affected your life?

Parkour has effected every part of my life. Embracing the philosophy of parkour has caused results that I never imagined for myself. I took up Parkour in my late thirties simply as the next fad to try out. I expected it to last for a short period of time and then move onto the next thing. I had several discoveries that changed everything for me.

At first I discovered a physical challenge. I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was and took this training on with a passion. I had self esteem issues where I needed to be the best in the class I took so that I could convince myself I was worth something. I trained hard to pass a “trial” invented by the first person I met in the parkour world and compared my progress to those around me. In that training, I met passionate people that placed no importance in comparing themselves to others. I discovered an attitude of self comparison that was profound. The idea of simply being better than i was yesterday shook my value paradigm.

I learned that parkour is about challenging yourself to discover your own boundaries. And from understanding your limitations you get to fully know yourself. And then you get the choice to grow or simply be present to yourself.

This philosophy not only manifested physically, but mentally for me. I embraced it fully and obtain extraordinary results in my life. My results at work excelled, my family relationships grew, my friendships deepened and even my love life expanded. My practice of parkour is now how I practice life itself.