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.

Introduction to Capoeira

Craig: So in Capoeira, the roda is this circle that most people have seen, where you have two people in the center, and if you don’t know what you’re looking at you think they are playing or dancing. Can you kinda unpack what’s going on there a little bit?

Paul: [00:01:00] A little bit. Usually you have a circle of people singing and dancing, clapping as well, call and response singing, and two people in the middle doing all sorts of inversions, and swirls, and spins, and it looks very choreographed, because you don’t see contact, generally speaking. The roda is the place where Capoeira lives. It’s the place where all of the training that we do is brought to its actual state.

Two people start together with the instruments, paying respect to the music. Then, based on the rhythm [00:01:30] and the words of the song, and the direction they’re receiving from the people running that circle. They have a conversation in movement, a dialogue back and forth with a call and response, just like what you’re hearing from the song, but it’s all with movement, physical movement. With attacks, with escapes, we call them attaque, and esquiva, and floreio, which is the flourishes, the pretty movements that people really think of when they think of Capoeira. It’s a dance, it’s a fight, it’s a game, and more [00:02:00] than that it’s a microcosm for life, and a place to escape the rest of all those things.

Craig: Okay, so obviously you love Capoeira, and I know you’ve done it for off and on in the beginning, but basically 15 years of this. So what happened to the love of your life there?

Paul: As and why did it stop, or how did it start?

Craig: Yeah, how did it stop?

Paul: Okay, Capoeira was the place where I learned social interaction. I was an Air Force kid. I moved like 30 times now. I’m 34. I moved all over the place, and [00:02:30] there was a movie many years ago, first got me into Capoeira. I didn’t get to try it until I was a senior in high school. At that point I was a complete loner. I had no external social skills, but everything I saw in Capoeira was fascinating to me. It fully engaged me, so all through college, and then as I started my career in San Antonio, and continued, I loved Capoeira, it was a big part of my life.

In that, I also learned about politics, and about things not working well. So there’s a lot of human interaction pieces to it, that were very challenging for me. [00:03:00] I felt the system I had been taught, and the things I believed, did not remain consistent. The things I had been taught 10 and 12 years before, were not where the art was at that point, or especially in my community. I felt like there was no chance I would ever reach a place where I could be teaching, which had been a goal at one point in my life.

Craig: Oh, okay.

Paul: I kind of lost the connection, the-

Craig: Yeah, the joy-

Paul: The incentive, the carrot disappeared for me. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be that thing anymore, [00:03:30] and I didn’t know where I was in it. There was some specific social things that happened, and a relationship that ended that kind of made me have the conversation with myself of why am I doing this. The answer was that, there wasn’t a good reason, other than that I had always done it.

Craig: It was just the thing that you have been doing for so long.

Paul: Yes. Capoeira comes with a literal baptism. You get baptized into Capoeira. It’s called Batizado. That’s your first big event, and we have them every year, and all the guests come. It’s a baptism of earth, because they put you on the ground. So it’s very [00:04:00] much a thing, and that’s also where you first receive your Capoeira name, your apelido, your nickname in Capoeira, your alias of Capoeira. I was “Spaghetti”. I was tall, thin, and white. Not much has changed. That name is the name I went by, and still many people called me nothing else from about the age of 19 or 20 … wow yeah, more than 10 years. That identity was who I was. Leaving [00:04:30] that was pretty traumatic for me, and at that point I started going by my middle name. That was when I became Paul. So it was kind of a big moment for me. Leaving that was very difficult, and I was left not knowing who I was, or what I was going to do, but I ended up in parkour.

Movement and Conversation; From Capoeira to Parkour

Craig: One of the things that I see, when I’ve seen Capoeira is, it’s clearly a conversation. You can see that it could be combative and antagonistic, but there’s a conversation happening there. A lot of times in parkour, there are certain people I have in mind, that conversation is happening when you train with them, and in other situations that’s missing. So I’m just wondering [00:09:00] what your thoughts are, from an original Capoeira point of view, coming into parkour.

Paul: Sure. Capoeira is … One of the most common books on it is called The Origins of the Dance Fight Game. We can’t even manage to get a name right on it, because it’s more than each of those things.

Craig: What? A sport that doesn’t know what to call itself?

Paul: Strong parallels right. There’s a big part of that is, how you respond to external things beyond your control, and then how you master then. That’s the part [00:09:30] that makes it completely organic. Why do they never hit each other? Well they are trying to-

Craig: They are trying to-

Paul: But you see it coming, and you get out of the way. Now in the same way, and this is actually, I’m a wordsmith, I’m a poet, I love words and that’s the analogy I’ve always preferred for Capoeira, you learn a vocabulary of movements. You can think of those as a language. Then the grammar and the structure, if I were to say to you, “Hey how’s it going?” That might be doing a gentle movement near you, and occupying your space, interacting with your environment, making you respond physically. You can choose a response like, [00:10:00] “Oh, I’m interesting. How are you?” Or you can say, “Get away from me.”

Craig: I’m feeling injured and vulnerable-

Paul: Right, and so that is exactly the same way, informed a little bit by music, but also you choose. If someone comes in really hot and heavy from the beginning, you’re like, “Quit yelling at me.” It’s almost the same level of interaction, but also, from the very beginning in Capoeira, no matter what level you are, you can play the game with anyone. My first summer in Capoeira, with no experience, feeling like [00:10:30] a gawky, barely out of his teens kid who knew nothing about what he was doing, surrounded by these Adonis examples of human beings … Was that everyone was in every show, and we did shows at every public library in San Antonio, which is like 20-plus separate performances. In public, without a shirt, with just white skinny pants on. It was very difficult for me at that point in my life, but I learned that was part of it.

You can play with anyone. They’re not playing down to you. Is like having a conversation with someone, where [00:11:00] your language is their second language. You don’t think there are any less intelligent, or any less capable of carrying on the conversation-

Craig: In fact, you try harder. If I know that is not your first language, then I’m trying to be more particular about the things that I ask of you.

Paul: Exactly, you’re controlling … Your word choice must be more careful, so that you don’t send the wrong message, and your awareness for their space, and that is how it is to play Capoeira with someone, and we do call it playing Capoeira, that is all it is ever called, with someone who is not yet as versed as you are maybe. [00:11:30] That mindset around coaching Capoeira, you learn from beginners as well. You start teaching very early on.

Craig: What was the phrase-

Paul: “I am a master who learns. I am a student who teaches.” It was the first quote I read when I opened Nestor Capoeira‘s, The Little Capoeira Book, which was my first Capoeira teacher. Later I un-learned a lot of the things I taught myself wrong, but in that-

Craig: Ah, the human existence right?

Paul: Yes. Well, until I had other people. The social aspect is how we learn.

Craig: Oh, that’s a good-

Paul: …and that ties [00:12:00] in directly to, how does this now all apply to parkour? Well, in parkour, we are moving, and we’re still having that conversation, but rather than having it in this pure philosophical realm where it’s just two people talking across a table, and I say that to say that the roda is just a circle on the ground.

Craig: Right, there’s two people talking across the proverbial table in a circle.

Paul: There’s nothing else in that space. Now you start adding obstacles, obstacles to understanding, obstacles to reaching what may or may not be your goal … [00:12:30] Or, and then when you talk about people who do this, contact improvisation comes to mind and there’s specific movers, but when you play with your environment, and I use the term play from an educational sense, not a trivial sense. That’s always a conversation. From a Capoeira sense, playing with your environment is engaging with your environment, responding to your environment. When you do a thing, find out what the environments doing, come back. It’s almost like stationary Capoeira is like, imagine this wall is just a person, in [00:13:00] a set scheme-

Craig: In a set position-

Paul: Like in a block. Now what can I do around that? That gets a little further into what I did once I got with the two together, but I think that conversation piece comes from taking the landscape of the conversation that you’re having with someone, or with movement, and then how do these things fit into this conversation of movement. So is not always imposing my will. I want to do this line, this way. That can be one mindset that you see people have, versus this place … [00:13:30] I want to play with the idea of how I would vault over this to that.

Craig: Right, what opportunities are here.

Paul: Right, and those are very different mindsets that both exist. I know a lot of people might approach their training both ways, different days. For me, I usually need some sort of that engagement piece, or it doesn’t seem as fun to me. Just doing that same line over and over, it can be like optimizing, there’s different things there, but that is what really came to me.

Craig: Everybody [00:14:00] who has been to the situations where someone, or a small group of people, are working on a particular challenge in a line, and then you develop the bystander group, and suddenly it’s a group of people watching other people do parkour. The question I always have is, where does that actually come from? Does that stem from the people who are doing — let’s call that a line — the people who are doing that line, that challenge, or is it somehow coming from the people that are watching what’s going on? Is there an ego at play there somewhere?

Paul: Sure, I think that it can really depend on the type of challenge. [00:14:30] So there’s something to be said for fun. You’re with people who are pushed through the same type of challenge you’re doing. That’s one thing that we want to foment at jams. Where you get those people together to challenge each other and do something really hard, and there might be a question of accessibility. Other people will start watching that, and that can be super discouraging. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be done, at all. On the contrary, it’s a really important part of it, but I feel like there is a … very often a, “I could never do that,” syndrome-

Craig: Sure-

Paul: Which we hear constantly from bystanders-

Craig: Which I totally associate with!

Paul: …and I feel like that, [00:15:00] it’s … I mean I don’t want to call it “ego”, because that makes people think of the … Of being too proud-

Craig: “Id” might be a better word.

Paul: Id might be. Yeah so, that the internal feeling, the sense of shame that you’re not good enough to do that challenge, or that you might never be able to, or you thought you were doing pretty good but look at these guys. These are all things that make people unwilling to continue moving in that moment.

Craig: They disengage from that conversation that we’ve been describing-

Paul: They’d rather just watch, because there is safety in spectating. When I think about communication, let’s tie this back- [00:15:30] it’s about a place where you can have people … You can choose what communicating you are doing as a group, and if it becomes clear that two or three people’s challenge is disengaging a huge number of people at that jam, being able to create a group of challenges, or similar challenges, or whatever it is to give other people something they can find manageable and engaging, and know that’s okay. That’s kind of about creating safe spaces, but I think it’s very much about being aware [00:16:00] of what’s being communicated to whom, and who or what they’re communicating back through their movement or lack of movement. In Capoeira, if the person doesn’t play with you, they don’t say anything to you, they don’t do anything, you wouldn’t just kick them.

Craig: Well you might; I wouldn’t!

Paul: I mean if you didn’t have a reason, no. If there’s in the roda, they showed up to the place where the conversation happens, and they don’t say anything, that instantly is a concern. You can’t have a conversation with only one side. [00:16:30] That would require a stop right there. That game is over. Someone else would call the game, and have the two people step out, or one person else step in. So in my mind, if you’re at the place where everyone has come to play, to move, to train hard … If “game” isn’t what works for your mind for that, to get that training and with other people, and to share that experience. People who feel disengaged from that, they’re communicating something too. I think it’s [00:17:00] super dependent on who is there, the situation, and being able to play with those energies, which is something I also picked up in Capoeira. The understanding, why might this motivation be happening. What is someone feeling, or not feeling in this moment.

I think my happiest times are engagement with others. That isn’t necessarily the truth for everyone, but … If you’re never engaged by training with other people, then jams aren’t probably something you’re attending anyway.

Returning to nature; A critical piece of parkour

Craig: I want to talk about [00:17:30] the return to roots. Get into the whole-

Paul: Sure, Return to the Source.

Craig: Return to the Source.

Paul: Very briefly, I took a hiatus from my career in San Antonio. I was invited by Tyson to come out to Parkour Visions, and see how they run things, maybe open a gym at some point in the future in Texas, whatever was going to look like. I was director of member services for about a year and a half. Then I spent some more time there, getting to explore it, because I had been working a lot in the gym, and hadn’t gotten to explore the northwest. I got to spend a lot of time, especially [00:18:00] the end of that, with Rafe Kelley. He was former head coach, and one of the founding type guys from Parkour Visions. He now does Evolve, Move, Play, is what he calls his organization.

He was inviting me out to do more movement in nature. If you’ve never been in the Pacific Northwest, visit all the nature there. It’s incredible. It’s the most benign wilderness I’ve ever heard of. Just gorgeous, you can be in snow in the morning, and then skinny-dipping in the Puget Sound in the afternoon. It’s just pretty amazing. [00:18:30] He’s from north of Seattle, and Return to the Source is going to his father’s land and camping. It’s a week of going to different national parks up there, going to water, to rocks, to trees, cold water immersion, combative and roughhousing, climbing together, moving together, but really tribe. Creating a tribe of about 20 people-

Craig: Right, a literal retreat, where people are cooking together, and spending time together, and setting up camps together.

Paul: Absolutely, [00:19:00] and with a goal of exploring what humans evolved to be, or as to say what our ancestors experienced by being in nature, by being in the wild, by having this interaction with nature-

Craig: I always say rediscovering your birthright.

Paul: Sure, and experiencing what that does to you mentally, physiologically, physically. How you feel differently just by having been in nature. Then challenging yourself in a lot of fun ways as well. This [00:19:30] includes kind of culminating, and climbing up through a waterfall cave on one of the last days. It’s just a glorious … You’re overcoming challenges together, and exploring nature, and yeah. That was this past summer, June 2016 I went, and it was really incredible for me. It changed my relationship with nature, which is a big, big one-

Craig: That says a lot right?

Paul: Yeah. I had mentioned, as a kid I had been running around in the woods, but somewhere along the way [00:20:00] I did software development. Now I manage software development. I sit at a computer so much of my life, I had gotten … I nearly drowned in a river in Texas when I was three. So I had a point where I really kind of was very averse to natural water. So it got to a place where we were doing swimming in lakes, and being in rivers, and running down the river and things, and it was just a fantastic application of movement that I did. That I enjoy, but also really covered everything I’d learned in all my evolution in parkour, [00:20:30] and Capoeira. The social element as well, coaching even. It was really cool.

Craig: Most people’s perception of parkour, is that it’s an urban activity. People have taken the time to train, and to study, and to read will have discovered that actually has roots that go literally into the woods. What you’re just talking about with the Return to the Source seems to be something that I think people miss in their parkour training. There seems to be something missing there. If you’re only practicing [00:21:00] in an urban environment, there’s a piece.

Paul: Yeah, and Rafe would say that you’re missing the critical piece. That’s a big part of that. That is actually part of his mission, is to be teaching people how to rediscover the rest of the world. So the rest of the world is outside of our cities. I think that is totally understandable, if you were in an area, that was full of abandoned buildings, and that was the city you were in-

Craig: This is your natural environment, at least in the beginning-

Paul: That’s your environment, but movement [00:21:30] isn’t restricted to the context of the place you came from. For me, especially … In the same way that one of the things I enjoy now in parkour that I could not have in Capoeira is that I do Capoeira now between trees, or while balancing on rails, or somewhere that has environments, because it’s more interesting to me. That’s not where it, where it came from originally, I don’t pretend it was, but I’m applying those skills in a broader place. I feel that once you step out into other environments in the world, try rock climbing, try [00:22:00] trees.

Rafe likes to say, when you grab a tree, your hands get uniformly, unlike a bar, where you have calluses in one spot. If you’re grabbing tree branches of different varieties, and different thicknesses all the time, his whole head is a callous. It’s a completely different thing that happens. That’s fine I’m not trying to say that those are better or worse, just that there are other obstacles in the world, and when you interact with them, you have a chance to have new relationships, new conversations with your movement, and with nature, your environment, and the obstacles, which I personally [00:22:30] find terrifying, because everything is not square edges. Also, man it’s-

Craig: It really wakes you up-

Paul: Yes-

Craig: To the proprioception, to the spatial awareness.

Paul: Very much.

Craig: The majority of parkour that I’ve seen, I think people would agree when I say this, the majority of parkour is human beings running, using their hands but vaulting type of movements, flips and spins, but they’re moving over the built spaces. Or they’re moving over [00:23:00] rocks, and there’s a whole aspect of arboreal existence that goes back millions of years, and getting out into that natural environment … The first time you step under tree branch and brab it with your hand, your brain just goes, “Oh I know what that is.”

Paul: Yeah and you see, lachés are a huge thing, brachiation you’ll see on bar sets and things. That’s cool to train and there’s some really neat things that have come out of it, definitely, but when you get into a huge batch [00:23:30] of a tree that just sprawls over several square yards [crosstalk 00:23:33]-

Craig: Yards right-

Paul: And you’re able to, everywhere around you is a thing you can grab, that could take you, different area if you’re pulling or pushing. It’s an experience that, as someone who is enjoying and appreciating this movement art of exploration, parkour, whatever you want to call this thing that we do, this movement stuff, it’s nourishing, is another word you might use for it, because it’s like, “Oh yeah, I love [00:24:00] trying new obstacle movement because this is where I get to explore what the things I’ve trained in the urban environment, how do they apply here, and vice versa.” It’s just kind of like how do we, and again, I come from a very play centric background. In Capoeira, we play. No matter how were working we call it playing. So for me, engaging work is play. How do I play with this to become better at all the things, or whatever else my [inaudible 00:24:29] might be?

What else would you like to share?

Craig: We were discussing that climbing has obviously made the transition from being grungy guys kind of trespassing in a state park, buying large nuts at the hardware store and throwing them in rocks and climbing on stuff and pounding in pitons and things. And has transitioned from that, let’s call it the late ’60’s, have transitioned all the way [00:15:00] now into not just a global phenomena with magazines and tech gear and main companies, but has also been accepted in the mainstream. People don’t go, “Oh, you’re a climber.” They … There are a few of those people, but vast majority of them … People go, “Oh, you’re a climber. Oh, you teach climbing. Then obviously you get paid. Or you own a climbing gym.” [crosstalk 00:15:19] Right, exactly. It’s like this totally legitimate straight-up thing. And it’s not just in America. It’s not like it’s only because it’s here.

So my question is, and the thing we were discussing before is, where do we see Parkour [00:15:30] going?

Max: I mean, I absolutely see this as being kind of the … The last four or five years, and then I think the next four or five years, I feel like are potentially the most important years in the development of Parkour on a global scale. And that’s kind of one of the reasons I wrote my book, for instance. That’s something I’m very passionate about in general. It’s just how do we keep Parkour something that is at least sort of similar to the thing that I fell in love with when I started training? And keep that magic alive?

So for me, the book was something [00:16:00] that I could do to help. It’s like, can I put together a bunch of the things that I saw in forums back in the day and kind of create just a list of resources for people that are jumping into the sport now.

Craig: In a sense, it’s a survey of Parkour.

Max: And how do we coexist among ourselves. You know, that’s something that I’ve also seen from the beginning, it’s such a powerful personal thing that you’ve seen basically as long as Parkour’s existed. There have been conflicts with people about how they want to express themselves through movement.

Craig: Sure.

Max: And how they [00:16:30] … What they want to call it. Whatever the reason are. From the days with David and Seb and the Yamak, and until now, you still see that kind of stress. And for me, one of the most important things that I see … I want everyone to try and just chill out and mediate. So that’s something that I like doing in my own life and in my own training. I love taking different groups of people and just being like, “Hey guys. We do [00:17:00] the same thing. We all want to have other people do it safely and intelligently and be able to make a living off of it. Let’s work together instead of … ”

Craig: Yeah, and we’re finally getting to a point where … At least here in the States, you can walk up to a random person and when they say, “What are you doing?” There’s a 50/50 chance that they know the word Parkour, which is delightful. Five years ago, no one knew the word. You had to spend 10 minutes explaining [crosstalk 00:17:22]

Max: Have you see Casino Royale?

Craig: Yeah, I’m a little sick of saying that. So now we’re reaching a point where we’re really getting the knowledge penetration into the general global [00:17:30] public. And there’s sort of, I think, a flashpoint approaching where somebody’s going to grab a hold of the message. And maybe it’ll be a large publishing company who puts together a print magazine and just decides to put it on the check-out counter isle in every super market on the planet. And whatever we thought Parkour was … You can forget that. It’s going to be whatever they think it is in the magazine. And then we can have an argument where we … Like, where skating did, where they tried to split back off and have sort of a counter skate culture. So I agree with Max that the goal [00:18:00] here … And when I say here, I mean globally for Parkour. The goal should be to make sure that we understand the image of Parkour as a whole that we’re creating.

And that’s not an idea that I made up. Others have said that too. That it’s important that we think about, when we share an image or share a video or write something or don’t share an image or we don’t share a video or we don’t write things, we’re creating an image.

Max: Yeah, I mean, I would say that’s definitely true. Especially with media. The story that you tell people [00:18:30] is the story that they’ll believe. And that’s the story that you become. And so for Parkour, we have a bunch of disparate stories that are being told right now, where you have people that are doing their own thing. And I think the important thing also is that … You don’t want to suppress anybody’s creative rights. We want everybody to be able to express themselves. I just think that it’s important that the people who are doing so are taking responsibility for their impact that they have on the global [00:19:00] community and the way that Parkour is being viewed. And that’s something I think that Storror for instance has done a great job of recently. Storror and Storm both have kind of taken a change in direction with their media lately. Especially, in the last few videos, Storror made one with their New Year’s resolution.

It was like, “We want to teach people more about Parkour.” All these things. And so I think that it’s great because they’re obviously a group that has ton of influence, they make amazing content. They’re amazing athletes. They’re traveling all over the world. And to see [00:19:30] them make that roof culture Asia, which a lot of people in the Parkour community might be sniffing at. Like, “That’s … What is this … This is the exact type of thing that we don’t want to promote.” For me, I think it’s dope. And I’m like, “Heck yeah!” I like that they’re pushing it to a level that nobody has taken it to since the Yamak in terms of how novel it is [crosstalk 00:19:51]

Craig: Right, pushing the envelope of no one’s done that before.

Max: Yeah, and that’s amazing. That’s how … That’s the other way that the sport grows, right? It’s not just like … You can’t just have like, “Oh, we have gyms and a bunch of kids [00:20:00] are learning it. How to do vaults.” You also need to have those people that are doing gnarly stuff to keep it interesting. But at the same …

Craig: Research and development on the fringe.

Max: Exactly. But then you also have them balancing out, which they’ve been doing lately with just normal training uploads and a little bit more kind of talking about their goals. Things like that. And I think that’s amazing! I wish that every major group would just do that once in a while because they have such big fan basis that getting that perspective out there is really important.

And a lot of people that I’ve spoken [00:20:30] to … Other elite athletes from around the US, around the world are all … We’re all on the same page where everybody … Whatever your affiliation. Everybody’s just like, “I want to preserve what I love about this and I see parts of it kind of leaking away.” And everybody’s kind of just like, “How can we make this … How can we plug the holes in the boat?”

And this is actually … If you don’t mind, I’d like to take this in a slightly other …

Craig: Sure.

Max: Slightly new direction. Where we were talking about the future of Parkour. And I do think that actually something … [00:21:00] The sixth chapter in my book is about kind of where I see Parkour going in the future, and that really got me thinking about how Parkour is evolving compared to other sports and kind of looking at kind of the history of other extreme sports, urban sports. And I’m very … I have a very positive view. I think the way that Parkour is going right now is actually really, really exciting for a few reasons. I think that for a long time, as athletes and business [00:21:30] owners, et cetera. Gym owners. We’ve been kind of looking at things and saying, “This is Parkour’s big break. Oh, Casino Royale. That’s going to come out.”

Craig: Here’s the moment. [crosstalk 00:21:40]

Max: And that’s happened for years and years where we’ve said, “Ninja Warrior’s getting picked up by NBC.”

Craig: It’s going to explode. [crosstalk 00:21:48]

Max: And then they look at it and they’re like, “Oh. It’s actually kind of suppressed Parkour and this thing. Build our own.” Which a lot of people have seen as being negative, and I actually see it as being so positive because what [00:22:00] it’s allowed us to do is the people that have been place from the beginning. You know, the Ryan Fords, the Blanes, the Yanns. Dan Edwards. Everybody like that. They’ve had time to invest money into building infrastructure to create their own gym instead of having to go to Cross Fit XY. Get money to have their own … So we’ve all kind of been able to do our own thing under the radar, and gotten just [00:22:30] enough support from these outside entities to stay relevant, but not too much where there’s any amount of control. So it’s been … To me, it’s really interesting because I think that we as a community still have the reigns. We’re still … We’re riding the horse and we’re in control, and it’s not like we have Red Bull on our back that’s got a switch hitting the horse’s butt.

Craig: In some way, the whole global Parkour everything … The amount of money being spent on it. The shoes, the clothing, all that stuff. It’s all so small [00:23:00] that sort of the corporate powers don’t really care yet.

Max: But I see that as being positive, and I ultimately see … Even if you look at competition, things like that. For instance, what you were saying about the market for all Parkour goods. Say you take the money that every major Parkour team makes off of selling merchandise and every Parkour company. That’s still maybe 1/1,000th of [crosstalk 00:23:26] of the amount of money [00:23:30] that [crosstalk 00:23:31]. Nike spends a thousand times that much on marketing one shoe.

Craig: Right.

Max: So they look at something like Parkour, and they’re like, “There’s no market for it.” And for me, I see it as … I would much rather have that be the case where these companies are like, “There’s no market for it. There’s no market for it.” Then, by the time they want to come in, all the gaps have been filled. It’s like, there’s already clothing companies that are grass roots. There’s competition formats that are grass roots. There are gyms that are grass roots. X and Y, and it’s all been covered by people in the community that have the community’s best interests [00:24:00] at heart. That have been training for fifteen years, that want to promote a safe practice of Parkour.

Craig: Yes, and that transformation where the … Whatever the sport you’re talking about. That whatever the activity is, that transformation is just a generic thing. It happens with every activity and every sport. And you get one moment where it explodes like that, and then the horse is out and it’s over. So I think you’re right. We definitely need… People definitely in the Parkour scene, in the Parkour community. They need to start [00:24:30] … You really have to sit down and say to yourself, “If I’ve gotten something that I value and appreciate out of Parkour, then I have a choice. I can either say thank you and go onward with whatever I’m doing. Or I can say, I have the responsibility to stop and to also allocate some of my efforts to passing that gift on.” And that’s actually how you save it. That’s how you make sure that Parkour maintains whatever it is that you think it has that’s great. You keep [00:25:00] that alive by keeping it alive.

Max: Yeah, I think it’s also … A little bit … For me, as somebody who’s trying to make a living off of doing this awesome, awesome practice that we do. It’s a little bit inspiring. I know a lot of other athletes that are working two jobs, working one job a week. Trying to train full-time, and they’re just like, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” And it’s frustrating to see amazingly talented athletes, people who are so passionate about what we do, and have the skills to [00:25:30] really be great ambassadors for the practice of Parkour, that have to drop out because they’re just like, “I’ve got pay school loans. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do that.” And then to me, it’s like … I always tell them, I’m like, “Look at this. Look at all the gyms popping up.” There are opportunities, it’s just kind of … For me, I’m … In terms of the “aha” moment, when does Parkour get huge? I’m really curious when what could happen …

Craig: I think it would only be visible in hindsight. Like, you can look back and find the aha moment for the internet, you can find the aha moment for skating, [00:26:00] but only in hindsight. You’re never going to spot it as it’s happening to you.

Max: It’s crazy to think, though, because I feel like so many things have already happened with Parkour. It’s been in movies, it’s been music videos, it’s all over the internet, it’s gone viral, it’s been on TV, there’s been TV shows. All these things [crosstalk 00:26:15]

Craig: What could possible be left? Well, here’s one for you. I’m not going to name names, but I happen to know somebody who recently went to Antarctica and did Parkour on a cruise ship. And after the fact, we were talking and somebody else said, “Oh my goodness. You were the first [00:26:30] person to take Parkour to the last continent.” And we were just like, “Oh my goodness. That’s actually what really just happened.” So the only point I’m making is there are still things to be done, and if we knew what they were, then they would be done. So there’s still tons of opportunity out there.

Max: Or it gets in the Olympics or whatever. For better or for worse, whatever happens there. That’s another thing that people have been talking about is Parkour in the Olympics, the X Games. And I look at that and I say, what athlete … ‘Cause there are people that are like, “I [00:27:00] want that to happen now. That would be so great for the community, the exposure.” And I look at that and I say, “What athlete from any team…” Know, if I were on — I work a lot with KO — Nike comes up to me and they say, “Hey, we see you’re going to be on the Olympic team twenty whatever. 2020. We’d like to offer you seventy thousand dollar [crosstalk 00:27:20]

Craig: A real salary.

Max: Yeah, any money. Any Parkour athlete they’re like, “Ten thousand dollars a year. Oh, gosh.”

Craig: Five digits?!

Max: Yeah. I mean … Yeah, so I look at that, and you’re like, these are [00:27:30] people that are literally struggling to survive. How are they going to say no if a big company comes in and offers them any money.” And for the Olympics, obviously there are rules with sponsorship and things like that, but if they’re any kind of major sponsorship like that, it would be hard for somebody that, even if they’re the face of their own team to say no just because of the comfort that that would bring to their lives. And then you have now … Maybe that happens to the right five or six people, now you have maybe the five biggest teams and faces of [00:28:00] Parkour for a lot the kids that are … Now those all dissolve, things fall a part [crosstalk 00:28:04]. And then it’s like, okay, now who’s going … Where are the grass roots teams? Where are the organizations that have been working for years? All that could be undone with five contracts to the right people.

Craig: Right. And I think it will …

Max: Which is scary.

Craig: That’s going to happen.

Max: But hopefully, fingers crossed that it takes eight more years or twelve more years where then you have gyms that are in place and Apex is like, “We opened up our thirtieth facility in America [00:28:30] so we can offer you this contract instead of Under Armor.”

Craig: Well, I think that there’s more and more inroads being created to primary schooling. So parents are now open to Parkour being like a regular thing. My kids in karate, your kids in soccer, and my kid does Parkour. And it doesn’t even make an eyebrow raise anymore at dinner parties. So as that has now happened, then that creates an economy for that. And then those [00:29:00] kids grow up never really thinking that Parkour is exceptional in a bad way. It’s exceptional because it’s fun and they love it. But it’s not exceptional like only weird people do that. And that’s …

Max: Which is true.

Craig: I guess if you count heads and you say so many billions of people on the planet are one way and then there’s a certain number that are the other way, yes, we’re the weird ones. But in reality I think the people who do Parkour … People ask me, people in my age cohort, ask me about it. And I say, “Well, you do Parkour. [00:29:30] When did you stop?” It was probably around fourteen, like actually if you’re over thirty, for example. Sit down for a second and I want you to tell me the last time that you climbed on the jungle gym. And if you can’t tell me the exact month, that means it was like when you were in sixth grade or something. And it’s like … That’s a long time ago to have not been four feet off the ground.

So now we’re off into talking about what the nature of Parkour is, but I really think it’s a common theme that I’m hearing with almost anybody I talk to anywhere [00:30:00] is that we all feel that there’s this responsibility to the greater Parkour ethereal thing. Like we all owe it something and there are a lot of people who are famous names who would nod vigorously, “Yes, yes, yes.” So that’s a great place to go. I’m glad we got to talk about that.

What else would you like to share?


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...


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.

YAMAKASI and ADD Co-founder

What else would you like to share?

Craig: I want to keep digging into this idea about creating implicit, maybe even explicit, movement snacks kind of signs, but implicit permission for people to play. A very common theme, everybody has heard this is you say, “Well, we’re going to try and get people to …” Let’s say [00:05:00] work out on a bench here, “How many ways can you find to get over this bench?” Then, somebody immediately goes, “But there’s a risk of danger there.” How do we balance that perception of risk? Do we balance that perception of risk, or do we try to dispel that perception?

Caitlin: I think a lot of people exaggerate the risk in their head. Again, a lot of — if we go Parkour specific — there are already these preconceived notions of what Parkour is. [00:05:30] But even with play and jumping around, any sort of rough-housing, there’s always this kind of aversion. Across the board in how I talk to city officials and groups looking to implement something for play or Parkour, even in the form of programs, the concerns are always security and safety of the participants or of the assets of the park, the infrastructure of the park, or even fear of legal repercussion.

[00:06:00] However, I think that humans are fairly… have a very strong sense of self preservation. A lot people are fairly cautious as it is to begin with their movement. I think that if we are constantly taking risk out of our play spaces and out of our parks in entirety, you’re only going to get boring spaces. Risk gives you choice, and it gives you opportunity to explore and challenge yourself. [00:06:30] Risk is a choice, and you have to learn how to negotiate acceptable and unacceptable risks in our lives. Play is a very safe space to learn how to do that. Like I said, if you remove it …

Craig: Right. You’re taking the value out of the movement.

Caitlin: Exactly. As I said, you get left with boring public spaces, boring playgrounds like the out-of-the-box systems that you see popping up everywhere. Yeah, how many times have I been to a playground, you see there’s a giant, colorful [00:07:00] play structure thing and none of the kids are on it. They’re actually over there playing with the dirt and stone, whatever it is, or the metal they found laying around about, because there’s nothing …

Craig: Yeah. The designers of that play space that we’re talking about, they removed the creativity that was necessary in order to play. Then the kids, who are inherently creative and inherently seeking to fulfill that urge to be creative, they don’t go at the place space. They go at the picnic table.

Caitlin: Yeah, exactly, because there’s more of an open ended question there to answer, something [00:07:30] creative, something worth exploring. You’re not being told what to do or how to do it.

Craig: Obviously we’re talking about western culture here, because that where we are. In our culture along the way the normalcy of play just went away. If you are an adult and you’re out balancing on a railing, that’s abnormal and you’re going to get sideways looks and glances. How do we get that back? How do we move people back to seeing humans balancing on a railing and just thinking [00:08:00] that’s normal?

Caitlin: Right, absolutely. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do with these kind of invitations. I think that people need to re-discover play for themselves if they’re going to be tolerant of play coming from other people. Because again there’s such a strong disconnection for so many people from what their bodies can actually do, because their experience is going to work, sitting down all day. They don’t actually understand what the human body is capable of, or rather what their human body … It’s not an exception to be able [00:08:30] to balance. It’s not exception to be able to jump. Everyone should be able to balance and jump and climb.

Craig: That’s your birthright. That’s the way your body works.

Caitlin: Exactly. It’s the universal human language, movement. I think that the most important thing that needs to happen is creating these very low risk, very high accessible, like high accessibility opportunities and invitations to play, to move in your public spaces that starts to normalize play again. [00:09:00] Break the social normals. Especially like I said because for a lot of people I know– this is changing with the emergence of social media and these playful tech companies that are popping up and talking about having better, more playful fun oriented cultures. A lot of people still have a cubicle-life experience or are stuck behind a computer, and there’s not a lot of room for creativity or play or any of these things. It’s so absent [00:09:30] from every other aspect of your life that it’s hard to allow it from other people.

What else would you like to share?

Mentioned in this section:
Peter Kageyama, Love Where You Live
The Walk Your City project

Craig: Everybody talks about, I want more people to come out and train Parkour with me. I want more adults. I want more kids. I want more girls to show up– all these things. I think the gateway to that is by encouraging and inviting more people to simply play.

Caitlin: Absolutely.

Craig: There are a couple of examples of that. That you can make up scavenger hunts and get people to try and do that. There’s a really good one, I think it’s from …

Caitlin: Greenville, [00:19:00] South Carolina. Yeah. There is this project called Mice on Main. I believe it was a high school student came up with this idea cast a bunch of mice that are like maybe a foot big.

Craig: The size of softball. Right?

Caitlin: Yeah. Not very big at all. He put them all up and down the main street of the town. One was up high on a light fixture, and one was down low. They’re all over. Right? People go to this town now and they walk around, and they go hunting for these mice because they know they’re there. All the shops [00:19:30] tell people, “Did you find the mice on main?” What you see is people walking around laughing, in these fits of joyous surprise. You know when someone has found one. I heard about this from an author named Peter Kageyama. He writes this book called Love Where You Live. It’s a really great book about activating your community through play. You have people squatting down, getting on their toes, taking pictures. This [00:20:00] is a really small way that people are starting to use their bodies even. Think about how you can take that idea and use that in your town. What are the cute little, cool features that make your town uniquely yours? How can you create a project that marks them out and has people hunting around for them?

Craig: Right. Literally invites them to interact with it, interact with their world.

Caitlin: That’s like going back to the idea of how people sometimes see walking as work. How can you re-associate movement with positive feelings? For a lot of [00:20:30] people they don’t have positive feelings towards movement. If I walk around a city and I’m laughing, and I’m having fun, I’m probably for one of the rare times associating movement with this walking with joy and laughter and play. Kind of makes me want to do it more. That was a very tiny project, low budget, and it has a huge impact. I think there’s lots of little things like that through art, through music, even through signage.

There is another project. That [00:21:00] a student put up a bunch of signs telling people how … Like, it’s seven minutes to walk here, and 10 minutes to walk there.

Craig: Right. Five blocks to this.

Caitlin: Exactly. More people started walking.

Craig: Just stuck them. No permission. Then, people started following the signs, and eventually somebody said, “Why are these signs here? Let’s take them down.” Then, there was social outcry, because, “No, we like our signs!”

Caitlin: Yes, exactly. I think that’s turned into project called Walk Your City, if you’re interested. Really small things can get people just moving in a way that will have them happy and moving. If you get people happy and moving, they will look for more opportunities to be happy and moving, [00:21:30] which will bring them to you.

Craig: Right. To your Parkour class.

Caitlin: Hopefully, or to other things.

Craig: To take the class that you created for over-40s, or they play handball or …

Caitlin: Honestly, it doesn’t have to come to you, because at the end of the day, what we all want is to see more of us moving and using our bodies and sharing in this universal language. Right? Even if it ends up just encouraging more people to move, you’re accomplishing the greater goal ultimately. Right? Why else do you want people at Parkour? It’s to have them celebrate being human through movement.

What else would you like to share?

Mentioned in this section:
Peter Kageyama, Love Where You Live

Craig: Continuing [00:22:00] talking to people who are running some sort of community or a Parkour group, or they’re coaching or teaching. A lot of people have ideas, “I would like to …” It’s a good idea. They want to put some scaffolding in the park, or they want to pay to help fix the bench or something. How do those people go from having an idea to actually getting that done? I bring this up because you work for the New York City Parks Department.

Caitlin: Parks Department. Yes. I think the first step whenever you have a great idea for a project you want to bring to life, [00:22:30] is to find partners. There are so many people in your community, outside of your immediate community, who are so interested in improving the place where you live. Try to get the word out. Go to community board meetings. That’s really popular in New York. Find other active arts groups.

Craig: In my local community there’s a regular monthly meeting of citizens at the library.

Caitlin: Yes, exactly, exactly. Find those groups and bring your ideas there and get feedback. Start the process [00:23:00] and make it … Show them that it’s not just … Especially if you’re coming from the position of Parkour. This is not just about Parkour. This is about everyone in the community, and this will benefit everyone in the community, and you care about everyone in the community. That’s really important.

Find some people to onboard with you, to experiment with you, to brainstorm and then take it to the next step. Find people in government. A lot of communities have advocates trying to engage their community, the [00:23:30] people, the citizens living in it, and present your ideas. Honestly the best thing you can do is have as many partners. Build support before you bring it before people.

Craig: The more that you can come out at the first iteration with ideas and solutions as opposed to, “I think we should have X. Gimme! Let’s do that.” Then, the person you’re talking to says, “How are we going to do that?” The more you can work up the idea and have solution for the idea.

Caitlin: Yeah. You can have your pie-in-the-sky [00:24:00] idea, but also make sure you have a couple of more budget-friendly reasonable, “I could do it tomorrow by running to Home Depot with 500 bucks.” Sometimes it just–

Craig: I think call that garden hose solution.

Caitlin: Yep, that was it.

Craig: It’s like, we hae a park, and the park should have a water features to it because the kids want to play in it, but we don’t have any money. The neighbor who lives nextdoor bought two garden hoses and ran them across and tied them to a tree, and look, it’s a play water park!

Caitlin: Yes, exactly. That’s another thing from Peter’s book, and I think it’s a brilliant way of approaching a problem [00:24:30] and testing out an idea in your community without your community having to have full buy in yet. Come with ideas big and small on the spectrum. Don’t be afraid to pitch something smaller to get it done and make a proof of concept before you go for the home-run.

Craig: Right, and to demonstrate that you can follow through, and that you’re really committed to the community and not just popping up.

Caitlin: That you’re a part of the community. Exactly. You’re not just using them to get your agenda pushed.

What else would you like to share?

Craig: So, one of the goals of our project is to connect people’s personal Parkour practice to the larger aspects of their life, their personal interpretation of their Parkour to the other things that they know. And I have a quote from you that I want to read, it’s not a trap, and the quote is:

The misconception is that there is one way to do it, or that once your discover balanced, you are done. What we learn from [00:01:00] Tai Chi and Qigong is that balance is a dynamic state of transformation that we must experience, adapt, and respond to, and experience again, and again. This is the practice of finding the infinite in the moment.

So, what I’d like to do is just have your thoughts on that, and maybe help me unpack that a little bit for everybody.

Thomas: It’s a good quote.

Craig: Thank you. I only copied it, I didn’t actually write it.

Thomas: Yeah, so I think the problem that everyone comes up against is that they seek balance [00:01:30] as a static state, as an arrival point, as an end game. And if you’ve ever balanced on anything, which is at least half of what we do in Parkour, the process is a constant micro-adjustment of the environment, and yourself. Right?

Craig: Your physical and internal process. So, why would I think that’s a static thing?

Thomas: I’d say to a listener right now, pick your right foot up off the ground, and tell me how calm it is to balance. [00:02:00] And the answer is, at first it’s not very calm, but once I stop thinking about everything else and just focus in on balancing, the amount of attention it takes to stay balanced allows you to obliterate all the other thoughts in your mind, and you get into this awake conscious state really fast. So, to be in any kind of balance state, especially if it’s new, is incredibly [00:02:30] valuable to bring you into this moment. And because the moment is in constant change, that’s why we call it infinite, right? There’s no, you can’t grab hold of it and then be there. The second you’re there, it’s gone and you’re in the next one, and that’s this awake kind of living. And balance is the fastest way to enter into that space.

Craig: But that’s also a space that you could conceivably enter into through martial arts practice. You could decide we’re going to perform this physical repetition over and over [00:03:00] and over until you lose yourself in it. There are other ways to get to that state. But balance is particularly fertile ground.

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, if you think of the term balance as a dynamic adaptation, it can be a conversation with your partner over like a difficult issue where you’re constantly both adjusting to try and balance each other’s viewpoint of this material in the middle. Like maybe when I’m on time, you think it’s late, you know, and all of the sudden you [00:03:30] realize that your projection into that moment changes the viewpoint of the information to balance with your partner, with another person is to link the two of you to a separate central balance point in the middle, and then you can play that game with another person. And it’s the same thing physically when you hold someone’s hand and both lean back.

Craig: Right, right. And you and I talked earlier about there’s that balance in just a very simple superficial level in conversation where if you say to your kids as they’re heading out into the streets, “Stop! Don’t…,” [00:04:00] and the communication can either be perceived as an aggressive one way transfer of energy or ideas. And you had pointed out that actually there’s a subtler, deeper level to the communication. Yeah, you’re actually saying things like, you know, “Don’t get injured, I love you, I want you to live,” not “Don’t cross the street.”

Thomas: Right, right.

Craig: And I’ve had situations in cars where people are arguing in the front seat, and the driver’s thinking we’re talking about the factual speed of the car, and the passenger is talking about you’re scaring me, and they’re disconnecting, and [00:04:30] they’re just not balanced there.

Thomas: Yeah, that hidden message that every time a parent screams at a child in any way to save them from something. Yeah, they’re screaming, “I love you, and I desperately want you to live like a happy, fulfilled life.”

Craig: Right, right. That’s an excellent point.

Thomas: Yeah it’s also, we talk about falling a lot in class, and that’s another thing that we like to do is to … And it’s funny because we just came out of class of falling yesterday. But, that process of being able to fall in all kinds [00:05:00] of ways. And as much as you can, at least, try to let go of a prescribed pattern to land in. That puts you in that space of new information all the time too. And that also throws you into the moment. So, any way that you can create an un-repetitive experience, yeah novel experience. Even if you’re doing a repetitive motion, right? Seek the novelty within the repetitive motion, and then you keep coming back into the moment, and that’s how you activate those [00:05:30] flow awareness states.

What else would you like to share?

Craig: Everybody who does Parkour eventually becomes this self-administering, self-medicating, self-physiotherapist sort of practitioner, and we all have inappropriate relationships with our foam rollers and Lacrosse balls and stuff like that. And what I want to know is, do you have any specific suggestions in the vein of sort of the recovery aspect of training? Which some people just completely skip, and like for example, I’ve heard about what they call Dit Da Jow, if I’m pronouncing that correctly, and there are other some basic [00:06:00] things that are a little beyond myofascial release, and basic massage. I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about maybe from the Chinese medicine point of view?

Thomas: I still want to know what inappropriate relationships with your foam rollers means?

Craig: That’s when you’re in the other room with your foam roller, and your spouse arrives, and goes, “What are those noises you are making?!”

Thomas: Yeah, you’re forced, I think the maybe the first thing that people who don’t know it should know is that bodywork’s usually painful if it’s any good at all. [00:06:30] And on some level physical people must have a bit of a masochistic streak. Or something like that. Yeah, Dit Da Jow is the old hit medicines that came out of the martial arts traditions. Every culture has some version of it, but mine are Chinese because that’s my medical training, and they are always this combination of some kind of vasodilator, some kind of vasoinhibitor, [00:07:00] and then these different agents that will either thin the blood, or quicken the blood, or cause a fluid to pass across the skin and draw out of the surface of the tissue.

Craig: And I think if I understand correctly about the Chinese medicine, the sort of big picture strategy is the liniments aren’t necessarily the way we think of it in western medicine. “Ow, I have a pain, take a pain killer,” but the Chinese medicine is usually a balance, where there’s components that are meant to, one [00:07:30] is meant to steer the system in a direction that is the “fix,” with quotes around “fix,” and then there’s also components which are meant to keep the system balanced once it gets over there. So, you don’t want just drastic swing to, “Now I feel no pain.”

Thomas: Yeah, I mean, so the classical saying is, “Where there is pain, there is stagnation,” and then the question for an injury becomes, “Well, what kind of stagnation is it?” So, if you have like a small bruise, or you bang yourself, or you’re sore after working out, that’s usually what we would call Chi stagnation, which is, the muscle’s been worked, there’s micro-tears in the tissue, [00:08:00] there’s a little bit of strain in the tendons. It’s the normal, what we would call, healing inflammatory process. So, the wound healing process, the first phase of wound healing is inflammation.

Craig: Right, and that’s a local process. It’s just the cells are physically crushed, and that releases chemicals, and then things respond. It’s not like the brain says, “Oh, there’s damage over there.”

Thomas: Yeah, no, it just happens. It’s like if you put water on a piece of toast, it’ll soak it up.

Craig: Mmmm… Toast…

Thomas: That’s a strange [00:08:30] analogy. But anyways, so, there’s a process at hand and as usually with Chinese medicine, because the medicine’s developed around analogs in nature, it’ll look at that and say like, “Oh, well how does nature handle that?” And then, if it’s like a young tree that gets bent over in a wind storm and it bends but it doesn’t snap all the way open, then that’s like a sprain, that’s not a fracture, right. So, it’s going to require a certain amount of restorative fluid but it’s not going to [00:09:00] have to be splinted, or like cut and reset, or something like that.

So, to look at your body as a landscape, that way when you injure it, and say, “Okay, well if I smash myself on the ground, and I immediately swell up and turn red in that location, and I can’t move very much,” then that means that the level of injury is pretty severe. So, you have to stop what you’re doing, and then you need to assess it. What’s happened in our medicine is that you would wrap with [00:09:30] Dit Da Jow, and you’d maybe put some kind of support on it like a little ACE bandage or something like that; and then you’d start to gently explore and move through the different potential range of motions, and see how it’s recovering. Then you take internal herbs to support the process on the inside, and increase the body’s ability to shunt blood into that area, because blood’s like the main tool for recovery.

Craig: Right. And sometimes you might want the body, you might actually want it to overreact, in the sense that, “I’m not in love with the reaction [00:10:00] level. This isn’t going to heal fast enough,” so I actually need to psych my nervous system and those things into reacting with a larger magnitude response. So, you might take things like, is it camphor or –

Thomas: Yeah, camphor’s a big one.

Craig: You know, which actually makes the body go, “Whoa,” you know, like respond to that, and you’re really just tweaking the tools.

Thomas: Yeah, so there’s a book called “The Body Electric,” where they talk about the current of energy. Where this guy practiced, he’s an MD who was looking at fractures that wouldn’t heal, and [00:10:30] he went around snapping the legs of lots of frogs. Terrible. But that was how they tested to look for what was happening. Because they started by cutting off salamander tails and watching them grow back, and they were trying to figure out how it happens; and they found that there’s this electrical current in your body, and there are concentrations at the main nerve clusters at the neck and at the hips that are very positive, and then moving out towards the exterior they get more and more negative. But then when you have an injury, [00:11:00] you get a sudden increase at that site of a particular frequency.

Craig: Electrical potential.

Thomas: Yeah, it’s like 10 megahertz or something like that. Millihertz, I don’t know. Anyway, read the book.

Craig: Read the book.

Thomas: Becker. But what happens is that charge draws the body in, and it only lasts for a certain amount of time. And in chronic injuries or injuries that are there longer, if you stimulate the nervous system, it’s kind of like creating that –

Craig: Begin that process again.

Thomas: Yeah. So, that’s the same [00:11:30] thing with bodywork where they dig into you, it’s a pro-inflammatory process.

Craig: Right.

Thomas: Where they create inflammation to tell your body that something is going on there, and then your body fixes the whole area because it doesn’t differentiate.

What else would you like to share?

Craig: One thing that I wanted to bring up is I know you have a pretty extensive background in martial arts, in terms of the number of years you put into it, starting very young and continuing on. One question I had for you is it seems to me that at some point you had to step away from that and allocate less time to it. I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts or anything you wanted [00:08:00] to say about having to change the primary love of your life from one … They’re both physical activities, but they’re fundamentally very different.

Adam: They are, and what you just said, Craig, is wonderfully accurate. I really did have to flip the switch on the love of my life. Since I was a kid my father was in the Vietnam War, and his father, my grandfather, taught karate to the World War II troops. So he knew judo and some of the old-school basic karate that we see in the [00:08:30] old movies. He was a combat instructor and taught Asian martial arts to our guys so that they could have a better understanding of hand-to-hand combat. He taught my dad. My dad talked about that here and there. So as a kid I always thought “That’s super cool.” What kid doesn’t want to be a Black belt and doesn’t want to do karate?

I was always interested in it, and on top of that, I was bullied at school. I was very short. I was the second shortest person in my class. For what it’s worth, the shortest person in my class was my main bully, ironically. [00:09:00] Yeah, so of course, that affected me. So at age eight or nine, I want to say nine, my parents and I decided that we want to look at martial art schools.

We walked around. It’s pretty funny, in downtown Emmaus, there were two karate schools directly across the street from each other. We drove into the parking lot of one. We were walking up, and you know how schools have glass windows so that you can see the class from outside? I looked through the window, and I saw a girl who was probably a teenager, and she had a Purple belt [00:09:30] on. I knew enough to know that that was kind of a high rank. So like “I’m gonna watch her for a second.”

So I’m standing on the sidewalk looking through the window, and they were doing a drill. She was kicking a pad in front of her and a pad behind her, like a front kick and then a back kick. She just looked awful. She was terrible. It didn’t look cool at all, and I thought “I don’t think I want to learn here. That girl’s not very good.” So I told my dad “I want to go across the street and go to the other place.”

So I went to the other place. Lehigh Valley Martial Arts was the name of the school, and I met the instructor, Paul Miller. [00:10:00] It was awesome. I really liked him. I really liked the other instructors that were at the school. I liked the kids that I saw. So I ended up joining. I can thank that Purple belt for … Whoever that girl is out there, I appreciate it.

Craig: The anti-example.

Adam: The anti-example. Exactly. She was the perfect contrast for me. So I joined that school, and that was my passion. That was my dream as a kid. All I wanted to do was be a martial arts instructor. In my late teenage years, as I was in college, I was a martial arts instructor. I sort of [00:10:30] achieved my goal and was right on the edge, or the premise, of at least being a head instructor for my very own school. Right about when that happened I was also getting involved in parkour. It was a difficult choice, and I had to decide “Do I want to continue being a martial arts instructor, or do I want to take my parkour coaching career a little bit more seriously?”

I made the hard choice to do parkour. The [00:11:00] reason behind that is pretty straightforward. It’s pretty honest. It’s that the more I got involved in the martial arts culture and the martial arts community, the more I saw that it was largely driven by ego. You didn’t necessarily have to be really good to be a martial arts instructor. You didn’t even have to know what you were doing necessarily. You just had to look good and act tough, or be big and be large, and throw your weight around physically.

Craig: Play the part.

Adam: Or metaphorically. Exactly. You could really [00:11:30] act a martial arts instructor, and a quick Google search will show you that that happens across the world. Don’t get too much time Googling though, you’ll get depressed. The parkour community, on the other hand, I have yet to meet someone who I consider better than me that is not obviously better than me. Anyone out there who says they’re good at parkour, they can’t do one jump without it being shown one way or another.

Craig: Right. Movement makes it immediately obvious.

Adam: Right. Exactly right. It’s a transparent art. It’s a transparent skill. You could be a big [00:12:00] karate guy and wear whatever color belt you want to wear with however many stripes on it you want, and you can toss a guy around who’s psychologically conditioned to give into that. You can either convince yourself or everybody around you or both that you’re really good, but when it’s you versus a rail or you versus the empty space of a very large jump, you either are or are not. There’s no guessing. So that element of the parkour culture, which is a sense of humility versus your obstacles, as opposed to ego versus [00:12:30] your students, really drew me in the direction of parkour.