Three words to describe your practice?

Craig: Final question, [00:30:00] three words to describe your practice.

Thomas: I should try to be clever.

Craig: You can be … I love this. This is my favorite part of the whole podcast. You can be clever, you can be deep, you can be trite. Anything you’d like.

Thomas: Deep or trite. So my words are “Be Here Now,” which dovetails with that story actually pretty nicely in that, that’s all there is, [00:30:30] is what’s happening right now. The fear of the future or the regret of the past has no real bearing in their own place. Just what you’re doing right now.

If you’ve got somewhere you got to go, you need to start walking there. But walking there, means taking one step right now. Lao-Tze said like, “A thousand mile journey begins with a single step.” That process is so true, [00:31:00] and the way that horrible, difficult, incredibly long things become fun and easy, is when you just do the step you have to do now. And then you’re like –

Craig: Right. The hardest part is believing you can start.

Thomas: Yeah, you just take a step.

Craig: Thank you very much, Thomas!

Thomas: My pleasure, Craig. So good to be here.

Three words to describe your practice?

Craig: All right, last and final question that I always end with, which is: [00:29:30] three words to describe your practice.

Jonny: Whoah. Well the first two that come to mind immediately are grateful and enthusiastic. The third one eludes me. Man, and two is a comparison. Three is a theme. I really do need a third one to make this work. So I’m going to go [00:30:00] with… uh, it would have to be grateful, enthusiastic, and caffeinated.

Craig: That’s perfect. I think you’re the first honest person who actually owned up to the drug of choice, which is caffeine.

Jonny: 100%.

Craig: It’s all about the caffeine.

Jonny: I’ve been drinking coffee nonstop throughout this podcast.

Craig: Great, because the next thing I say is, could you unpack those words a little bit? So we’ll just say the caffeine is the coffee cup that he’s been… He actually got up and filled it. I’m talking, he walked away and got the coffee.

Jonny: It’s [00:30:30] true.

Craig: So the first two words were…

Jonny: Grateful and enthusiastic.

Craig: And why? Why those the two words?

Jonny: Oh man, I’m grateful every day that I wake up and I get to move. I already was grateful, because I feel like I came to Parkour a little bit later in life. I started training when I was 31. And obviously, later in life than most people that I train with. I see you’ve bumped your head on the microphone in total dismay because Craig came to Parkour probably ten [00:31:00] years later than I did. I just say later in life than your top-level athlete, right? So you get in and you immediately compare yourself to the top 1%, as everybody does, no matter how unrealistic it is.

Craig: Right.

Jonny: And you go, “Oh, okay. Well I’ll never do that. I’ll never be that guy.”

Craig: More coffee.

Jonny: But rather than depress me, it just makes me more grateful that it wasn’t too late, you know. That I wasn’t perhaps missing a foot from diabetes, you know, or [00:31:30] on some sort of emphysema breathing machine. Anything could happen. Life takes crazy turns.

Craig: And late enough to realize that, yeah, I’m not gonna be that high-level professional person, so I’m not gonna spend any time killing myself, literally, to try to get to that level. I’m gonna take it and see how far does this body go?

Jonny: Exactly, yeah. And I’m grateful for what my body gives me every day. And I do make very high demands on my body because I want to maximize the time that I do have left. We all know you hit a peak at a certain point and I think, you know, I’ve probably peaked, if I’m not right at the peak right now. [00:32:00] And then it’s about maintenance, you know. Whatever you can do.

Craig: And the second word?

Jonny: Was enthusiasm?

Craig: They’re your words. Okay, enthusiasm.

Jonny: Enthusiasm. Man, I just was lucky enough to stumble across this thing that gets me as excited as anything else anybody can be excited about on this planet. I even look at Jiro Dreams of Sushi, here’s something that they made a whole documentary about this guy, he devotes [00:32:30] every waking moment, and I still think I’m more enthusiastic about Parkour than he is about sushi. And you know, a lot of people can go their whole lives without finding that thing. They may not ever find that driving force. But for me, we had lunch earlier today and we were talking about how, for a long time, during, for sure, the first year of my training, every training session ended … I didn’t stop til the sun went down and the little ritual was to sit down and watch the sun set and kind of reflect on my day.

And every single one, without exception, I thought, “This is the best day of [00:33:00] my life.”

That is really saying something, because as much as I love art, as much as I’ve been pursuing that for as far back as I have memories in life, I’ve never stopped at the end of a day of drawing and thought, “This is the best day of my life.” So I found this thing that gives me that consistently. It may not be every time now, because nothing’s perfect, it’s been going on four years now. There are those days where you just had a good day. It wasn’t necessarily the best day of your life, but man, there’s a good chance it is gonna be the best day of my life. [00:33:30] And how can you not just be at the highest level of enthusiasm possible when you’re having the peak of your lifetime right there in that moment?

Craig: Well, thank you very much. That’s an excellent insight to end on, right there. So this was Jonny Hart and it was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for taking the time.

Jonny: Oh, thank you.

Three words to describe your practice?

Craig: One final question. Can you describe your practice in three words?

Adam: Three words? I’m going to cheat. I’m going to cheat. I’m going to use [00:28:00] what we commonly refer to as The Three Pillars of Parkour. I can’t even tell you where I learned this. I know it goes way back, but I’m not exactly sure from whom. The Three Pillars of Parkour we define as strength, touch, and spirit. I like that because pillars are supports. They are things that if you take one away, the thing that you’re holding up may indeed fall down and topple over. So, I think pillar is the perfect word to describe these three things because you could remove one of those, and you would still have something, but it wouldn’t quite [00:28:30] be parkour.

So to me, strength has a shallow meaning and a deep meaning, and I’ll be pretty brief about this because I could talk forever.

Craig: Some people rattle off three quick words, and then I have to say “Could you unpack those a little bit?”

Adam: Let me save you that trouble. There’s an obvious meaning to strength that I don’t have to really walk you guys through, but strong muscles and strong joints and being able to withstand the impacts and forces of this physical practice that we [00:29:00] are a part of. So you need strength to so that. If you take away that strength, you’re going to give yourself a whole lot of injury. So you need it.

Of course there’s obvious deeper meanings to strength as well. Strength of mind and strength of spirit. Having strength was the original goal of the practitioners in the first place, not just physical strength. Many of them already had that more so than either you or I have right now, but they needed a deeper strength. They needed a strength of identity and a strength of community and a strength of spirit and a strength of confidence that’s inside [00:29:30] them. So, you can get all those things from parkour, and you should seek them through parkour because parkour can give it to you. So strength is important.

Second one is touch, and touch is a weird word. Certainly when you tell it to kids, they giggle because they’re like “Will you stop touching me?” That’s obviously not what we mean. Touch is a word that implies the difficult-to-describe element of sensitivity and control and balance and carefulness in movement, [00:30:00] because you can have strength or power in your movement, but if you don’t have a sense of touch, either A, you’re going to create injuries for yourself. You’re going to be blasting through every movement that you can, but you need to be able to control it. You need to be able to be completely in touch with that movement so that you know exactly what’s happening, and you can make adjustments if you need to, or whatever.

So that sense of touch in your movement is what separates parkour from football. Maybe not all of football. There’s probably some football players out there that have great touch, but I [00:30:30] think it should be a requirement of the element of parkour. You need that sense of touch in order to refine your movements.

Of course, there’s a deeper element of touch. To me, touch is being in touch with yourself, being in touch with the people around you. Just as you need sensitivity and control with your movements do you have sensitivity and control with your community? Are you treating the people around you well? Are you offending them or inspiring them? Are you making a difference in your town, or are you scaring your town when you’re jumping off of those walls? So being in touch and having that sense [00:31:00] of touch … Sensitivity is probably the best synonym. Having that sense of what is happening around you is crucial because otherwise we’re going to run into the problem I described earlier, which is that we’re bounding off stuff, and we’re not realizing the effect we’re having. So you need that sense of touch and community.

Of course, last, is spirit, the third pillar. When you say spirit, people often either think magic voodoo spirit, or other people think school spirit. I kind [00:31:30] of mean both, but not in the voodoo way. The most shallow definition of spirit is having willpower, basically. It is having that spirit, just like when you’re cheering for your football team, do you have spirit? Do you have energy behind it? Do you have the desire for them to do well? Do you have the willpower to succeed? That’s spirit, and that’s important to have. If you don’t have it, then you’re just going to be mindlessly and emptily doing your practices of touch and strength.

There’s obviously [00:32:00] a deeper element to spirit as well. There’s your own personal spirit, your character, your development, the deeper parts of you that you have the opportunity to develop as a person. As you can change your body in parkour, you can change your awareness and your senses in parkour, your strength and your touch, but you can also develop you, your identity, your spirit through parkour because there is so much to learn and so much to discover. So, if you take away that spirit element, I think it’s a much more [00:32:30] empty practice. It becomes more of a sport and less of an art. While both of those things are good, it’s so cool to combine both into one practice.

So strength, touch, and spirit are a great way to define parkour in my mind.

Craig: Well, thank you Adam McClellan. We really appreciate your time and energy today. It’s been a pleasure.

Adam: Thanks, Craig.