Parkour is the ability to move from one place to another in the most direct and efficient way possible. Some people like to call it free running, although I have found that free running involves more tricks. Parkour is simple and requires effort; to become as fluid as the people we see in the videos scattered around YouTube, first you must sweat and labor, finding a balance within yourself.
We can’t help it; we see these videos and we want to do it. We want to be that awesome, if you’ll pardon my simple language. Once you start, it is thrilling and exhilarating. The only thing to keep in mind is this – parkour is more like martial arts. It can be called a sport, but there is a internal discipline that must be achieved, a mental balance that comes only with practice. It makes me think of the concept from The Matrix: “There is no spoon.” You must train your mind to think that you can do it.
I have always been enthralled by the thought of doing parkour; just watching the videos made my feet antsy and ready to move. However, I’ve always been more than a little bit intimidated – simply because I’m a girl. I have found very few videos of women doing parkour and this made me feel as if I wouldn’t be able to do it. I steeled myself against my fear, keeping Neo’s words in the back of my mind, and went on a hunt.
I found a website online for traceurs (the term for those who do parkour) in my area and immediately roped a close group of friends into accompanying me on my venture. We packed into a small orange car and rode out to meet a group of people who would become our mentors and friends. Upon our arrival, we saw a group of 6 – 10 people warming up. Out of all of these people, there were no girls, except a reporter for the local college collecting some information.
This left me so intimidated that all I could do was try to keep up. I saw them do flips, vaults of various kinds, and a whole lot of running.
This was two years ago.
Today, I’m still intimidated. However, I can make my way up a 6-8 foot wall without too much trouble, as well as make fairly impressive standing jumps. My vaults are sketchy, if existant, because I hold a fear in my mind of failure. Over the two years that I have practiced parkour off and on, I have worked on my stamina and agility. I can now follow the group up stadium stairs, two at a time at a run, without ending up winded.
Things to remember about parkour:
If you think you can do it, you can do it. Most of the time, if you find you can’t do something, you either are suffering from a mental block or just lack of practice. If that wall taunts you, keep practicing until you conquer it.
NEVER attempt something that looks stupid, because if it looks stupid, it probably is. Don’t try to jump from buildings.
Pain is part of the game; you’re going to get scrapes and bruises, sore muscles and shin splints. Serious injury shouldn’t happen unless you try something you’re really not prepared or ready for.
HAVE FUN. Everyone learns at their own pace. Don’t feel like a failure just because you can’t do what everyone else is doing. I’ve been doing this two years and I’m still scared of half the things I see the others do.
Have fun and happy running!