Is there a story you would like to share?

“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.

How did your training begin?

I knew nothing about Parkour when I started in the spring of 2012. I had met Adam McClellan during a martial arts demonstration and he talked me into coming out to play with the growing Lehigh Valley Parkour community.

I initially thought I could simply jump into training being my usual self. But two pushups into my first class, I was stripped of my delusions of grandeur. Two minutes in, and I figured out that I was an out-of-shape pile of bacon. After two hours of trying to do something — anything — and failing and sweating and flailing and sweating more… Well, I realized it was going to be grueling work. As it turns out, it’s also extremely rewarding work!

I’ve changed so much, it’s hard for me to summarize. I’ve made huge progress in losing weight, eating a better diet, sleeping, recovery work (rest, stretching, yoga), learning to run, and learning to train (that is to say, set goals and work towards them). Parkour is a huge piece of the foundation on which I have rebuilt myself.

Along the way I pushed my limits. First, I simply committed to regular weekly classes and spent each week trying to recover in time for the next class (40-year-old, neglected Achilles tendons require a bit of work). I pushed myself by going to events where I knew I’d be uncomfortable; uncomfortable with my age, with my body size, with my lack of ability. Early on, I went all the way to London, on a whim, to attend Winterval; I knew no one, nearly froze and it was awesome. I began going to events like American Rendezvous in Boston. I started traveling to visit groups of people to train with them and sponge off their knowledge.

…and that’s where I find myself today: On a great journey. I’ve taken a thousand steps, and am delighted to see countless steps beckoning me onward.