Today’s Monday Mentor takes a different approach. As I was doing research for my manuscript, The Edge, I turned to TCup, who was kind enough to answer my basic questions about parkour. Like the main character in my book, he too is a traceur.
In case you don’t know, a traceur refers to a guy who practices parkour. Parkour is a sport that involves using one’s body to get past obstacles, either mental or physical, by running, jumping, rolling, climbing, etc. As I learned more about parkour, I soon realized that the philosophy behind the sport is a philosophy that I could adapt toward life.
Parkour requires the athlete to train and to stay focused so that he or she can be prepared to deal with problems as they arise. Most athletes are fairly young because the sport requires a lot from the body. But anyone can benefit from even the basic concepts.
Writers are faced with “obstacles” with every plot turn. Sometimes we simply shut off the computer and grab chocolate instead of working our way over what’s in our path. Adopting a parkour philosophy can make us stronger, more creative writers.
And if you want to take it a step further, the parkour philopsphy can make us better disciples of Christ. The traceur’s motto is “Être fort pour être utile.” Translated, the motto says you have to be strong to be useful. I associate the principle with “I can do all things through Christ,” but that’s just my personal philosophy.
Many thanks go to TCup for helping my readers (and hopefully future readers) learn more about parkour.
How were you introduced to parkour?
I was introduced to parkour as a sport a few years ago, when I saw an Internet video of a guy doing some crazy stunts off buildings. We later went to New Orleans on a mission trip, and my friends and I taught ourselves how to climb up onto the building where we were staying. We were able to make our way across the roof, jump off the building, and land without breaking anything. On a side note that was the best game of capture the flag ever!
But when I looked back even further, I realized that I had been doing these moves almost my whole life, not intentionally, but whenever I would bob or weave through a rail or hang out on the jungle gym as a kid.
Are you saying many of the parkour moves are basically natural?
When you’re running and climbing on stuff, you get a feel for the basic move sets for parkour. I feel like it’s the same thing, just on a much bigger scale. Now I grab rails and jump off of things whenever I can, that is, unless there are masses of people around that would point and laugh if I messed up and hurt myself. (It happens… a lot.)
Do parkour athletes train alone or in groups?
I tried to find a parkour clan near Nashville so that if I was going to run around and look like an idiot, at least I wouldn’t be alone. I’ve heard it’s better to run in small groups of 2-4 people anyway. You’re supposed to get a better feel for how you can overcome obstacles when you see other people doing it. Then you can try it yourself. It makes sense, but I still haven’t heard back from any of the groups I tried to contact.
How is parkour different from other sports?
For people with a history in sports, it’s much, MUCH different than anything else out there. I can’t think of any other sport that uses the same skill sets as parkour. Although it helps a lot to be physically fit, you’ll still have to train your body through the steps of the moves.
Is there an age limit for this sport?
While it does help to be in shape, I don’t think there is an “age limit” to free running. I mean if you feel that you’re up to it, then you probably are. Everyone should take it easy at first, to get a feel for it. During the introductory period, you could easily decide if want to keep learning or not.
What does parkour do for you?
Once I get really focused on running, the adrenaline kicks in, and the moves start coming more and more naturally I get a feeling that I wish everyone could feel at least once in their life. I can only describe this feeling as a euphoria, which is what really draws me to free running. It’s when I feel like I’m in tune with everything around. me. (Typing this makes me realize I may be an adrenaline junkie.)
Do people have to change their lives to practice parkour?
Learning parkour isn’t what I would describe as life changing. Aside from having people stare at you when you jump off of something, it really doesn’t affect a person’s schedule or anything like that. Unless your planning on devoting masses of time to practice, or if a person was really good and went professional, it shouldn’t affect you that much. As for me, I don’t think it has at all, with the exception of practice time.
How can people learn more about parkour?
It isn’t as popular of a sport as is should be in my opinion, which means that there is only a very limited number of instructional videos and things like that, so my answer on where to learn things would be the Internet. I know it’s shallow, but Internet videos are usually accurate when it comes to that kind of thing. After that, the best thing to do would be just to get out and try stuff, whatever you think you can handle.
So you really think anyone can do something that involves the very basics of parkour?
Humans were built for this kind of thing. You just have to—I guess for lack of better terms__un-train yourself. (That makes it sound like we’re de-evolving or something.) Parkour has so many different levels from “professional” to all the way down to “that kid that jumps off the rail every day after school.”
So for beginners, it’s not like other sports where you’re trying to push your limits. It’s knowing your limits first and then expanding slowly. I know I sound like one of those lame instructional videos, but learning your abilities is the difference between doing an epic leap off of a building and showing up on the news as an idiot who tried a ridiculous stunt.
Personal note: Check out this site if you’d like a taste of what parkour is all about.