Ready For Another Year of Awesome???

Dear friends and friends-to-be,

I hope you all have had a wonderful summer, but it’s time to face the fact that it’s coming to an end. I know one reason everyone should be excited about the coming school year, though–UMPK training will be in full swing come September!

Personally, I’ve missed all of you veteran members dearly and I can’t wait to get to know some new members this year. So I’m very happy to spread the word about an event that will take place on campus even before classes begin! On Sunday, September 2nd, the first day of New England Parkour’s Third Annual Charity Jam will be held at UMass Amherst. Check out the facebook page or the event’s website for more details. It sounds like an awesome way to help out a good cause and get your jam on at the same time, so I hope I’ll see many of you there!

If you can’t make it to the charity jam, fear not, because UMPK practices are going to start the very next day. That’s right, the first practice of the school year will be held on Monday, September 3rd, at the usual time of 6pm. We meet right outside the main entrance to the Fine Arts Center. Whether you’ve been doing parkour since the beginning of time or you’ve never done anything remotely athletic in your entire life, we want you to come train with us!

Once the school year is underway, practice is held Monday through Thursday from 6pm to roughly 7:30pm, and we always start things off outside the FAC. So even if you can’t make it on either the 2nd or the 3rd, you can still show up on the 4th, or the 5th, or the 6th, or the week after that, or…

You get the idea. There’s no excuse not to check us out!

It’s going to be a fantastic year, my friends. Let’s start it off right!

Love,
Amy

Jacked Upper Body? Check.

Marc vaulting

How many times have you looked in the mirror and seen that your upper body needs a lot of work? I’m sure we’ve all been there. However, who wants to go to the gym and spend time there among a bunch of people who will look upon you with scorn? Not me. Luckily for all of us, I’ve put together a bunch of different body weight exercises to pump you up in the privacy of your own living space. We hope you like what he has to share because these movements will get you jacked!

After the past year I (and the other officers) have been amazed at everyone’s, including UMass Parkour’s, growth. Realizing that we have only 2 months (WTF?!) till graduation, we are excited that this has been by far the best year of UMass Parkour and it’s awesome that we (the Seniors) get to leave on such an amazing note and we have no concern for the years to come and how much of an impact UMPK will have (as it is already) on peoples’ lives.

The one main thing I have noticed (which is f*cking awesome) is the strong paradigm shift people are having. A paradigm is an example or model of the way we view the world and whatever we are doing, and it is constantly changing. As of right now it seems that the UMPK motto is “Get Buck,” but a couple years ago it was “Do a gainer.” This is because myself and the rest of the group looked at gainers as an almost “impossible” move; however, once one of us landed it, our paradigm shifted. This is why right now we not only find gainers just a normal move but will say things like “Why didn’t you cork, gainer arabian, etc.”

One of my main goals with this post was to say that where you guys are, as Freshman and Sophomores, is where all the Seniors were Junior year. “To be the best is to train with the best” is a quote that I love and truly believe in. Although sometimes people may get frustrated because they see more advanced people doing more advanced tricks and they are still struggling with (what seems like) an easy move, we were all struggling with the same move not too long ago. Sometimes, although it make not seem this way, the biggest factor of why someone may seem better than you is simply that they have been doing it longer. Trust me, with 100% certainty, you will get there.

This is why I talked about a paradigm shift earlier. By training with people who are better than you your paradigm shifts and increases. When I was in New York for a tricking gathering called Drednt there were people there doing moves with such ease that I am years away from doing. By being in this paradigm that a double corkscrew isn’t hard (I was one of the only people who couldn’t corkscrew, never mind double) it made me train harder than I ever have in those 3 days. This is why when we say that where you guys are now are way ahead of where we were, we mean it. You are going to be doing things that we couldn’t even of imagined when you guys are Seniors (no joke).

Overall, with Parkour and in life, even though it might seem that you are light-years away from people better than you, keep training hard because you are really not that far away. By training with people who are better than you, even if its just in one move, you are increasing your paradigm and constantly growing. Everyone in UMPK has their strengths and weaknesses and by learning what those are you can easily improve at a much faster rate than you could have ever imagined.

I want to finish this with an important quote – “We train with others but truly only compete with ourselves.” Parkour isn’t about being better than the other person – it’s about breaking down barriers, both mental, physical and spiritual, that were currently there. To someone, its about getting their first monkey vault, while other people it will be about landing some complex flip. This is why all the main offers get excited when someone lands a move for the first time, no matter how simple it may seem. Everyone is different and when someone does something they never have before, no matter how simple or complex, they are breaking down barriers. And that is the point – to help each other break down barriers and explore who you are – because that is what life is truly about.

Parkour.

- Marc

Comfort Zones

Amy performs cat balance on a rail.

You’ll notice it right away when you wake up one particularly cold morning. You’ve got things to do and places to be, but your comfort zone, which in this case extends just to the edges of your warm fuzzy blanket, is sucking you in. In this cozy little pocket of snuggly security, you’re safe and content. But if you stay in bed all day, you can’t accomplish much of anything. It may be difficult to counteract the attractive forces of this comfort zone, but most of the time you steel yourself for the cold and the challenges of the day, and you break free.

Your comfort zone is not always as easily definable as the physical area of a warm, cozy bed. It is wherever you feel safe, wherever you know what to expect. Part of your comfort zone might be the routine you use to get ready for the day, for example, or the friends you sit with at every meal. Part of it could even be as abstract as the things you choose to think about or believe. Staying in a comfort zone makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, because in the wild, if you didn’t get chased by predators or run out of food or get injured yesterday, you probably shouldn’t change things up today. If the goal is survival, a comfort zone is a fantastic place to be.

But what if you want to do more than just survive?

If you want to learn, if you want to grow, if you want to challenge yourself to be in some way better today than you were yesterday, try breaking out of your comfort zone. Do something you’ve never done before. Do something that makes you nervous. Do something you’re not even sure you’re capable of. When I first got to UMass, parkour was all of these things to me. I didn’t play sports or do any kind of conditioning. I was afraid of being looked down on, afraid that others would wonder why I was there when I was so obviously “unathletic,” and afraid of making a fool of myself in front of so many other people. All I had was a desire to improve myself, and while that didn’t seem like much at the time, it turns out that’s all I really needed. Outside my comfort zone, I discovered a whole world of possibility which I had thus far excluded myself from. I could list endless benefits I’ve gained from parkour, but the point is I did something I was completely uncomfortable with, and it helped me grow.

For those of us who are traceurs and traceuses, we’ve all purposefully removed ourselves from our comfort zones in certain ways. The safe, routine way of getting around is simply walking. Pretty much everyone is used to it. But if you stick to this comfort zone, you miss out on a lot of other ways of moving, all the other paths you could take, and all the lessons you could learn along the way. So when you’ve chosen to stray from the comfort zone of walking and move in other ways, you’ve already gotten outside your comfort zone. However, one thing I’ve noticed in myself lately, and that we mentioned quickly in our discussion last Wednesday, is that once you start gaining confidence in certain moves in parkour, it can be tempting to stick to what you know. Gaining confidence is a wonderful thing, but if you only go for the moves you are confident about, you’ve created a new comfort zone for yourself. Playing it safe and staying in your comfort zone can hold you back whether you’ve never tried parkour before or you’ve been doing it for years.

I’ll use myself as an example again. I love turn vaults. I could do turn vaults all  day(although I’d probably get pretty tired!). I am far from perfecting them, but I’d say they’ve become a part of my comfort zone. If I’m practicing turn vaults because I am trying to improve my landing or fine tune the movement in some way, great. But if I’m practicing turn vaults because I’m avoiding something I’ve never tried or something I’m not as confident with, I’m removing myself from the situation in which I have the most potential to learn.

So I guess what I’d like you all to consider is this: don’t get so comfortable with monkeys that you never go for the kong. And once you have a solid kong, start thinking about the double. If you get the double, there’s always the triple. There are an endless amount of adventures available to us, limited only by what we can conceive of and what we’re willing to try.

What are you willing to try?

-Amy

A bit of summer training…

Hex's handstand

School’s in session and this year’s parkour club looks better then ever. With so many new members things are starting out with a bang. I hope everyone stayed in shape this summer ’cause this year we hit the ground running…

Coordination, Skill, and “Natural Athleticism”

Scooter does a front handie.

Through talking with a vast amount of people about the possibility of joining UMPK, or even just doing Parkour on their own time, I’ve become aware of a huge section that tells me “I’m not athletic enough to do that”, or, “I could never do that”. I generally reply with “Well, Parkour is an individual discipline. It isn’t about being able to do specific moves like flips or leaping tall buildings with a single bound; it’s about doing whatever you can do RIGHT NOW.” Parkour is about the difficulty of a technique as it relates to YOU: not to me, or David Belle, or anybody else. So, the “that” that is being referred to in saying “I’m not athletic enough to do that” is not pre-determined, it’s defined by what you’re capable of and determined by you. For some, landing a smooth roll will push their limits and help them grow as much as doing a twisting front-flip over a rooftop gap would help another grow. It’s all relative.

While I was talking to two classmates in my Human Physiology class about Parkour they brought up an interesting point that really gets at the heart of why people feel that Parkour is out of their league. One of the two, who has known me for a few years, replied to my query about her reservations by saying “You can do it because you’re athletic, me, not so much”. As I started to explain that athleticism is learned, my other classmate brought up the idea of being “naturally athletic”. At first I didn’t quite know how to respond because it seems weird to say that there aren’t any “natural athletes” in the world – but after some thinking I realized that that’s actually the truth: there aren’t any!

When it comes down to it, your body is simply a tool for your Mind to wield. Therefore, the ways to improve your capabilities are to 1) Improve your tool, and 2) Get better at using the tool. To make your tool more useful you have to improve it through physical training to make it stronger, more powerful, flexible, resilient, etc. Of the two aforementioned ways to improve, this is the straightforward one that nearly everybody understands because everybody knows the effect of having the right tool for the job.

The second method, to get better at using the tool, is all too often overlooked and misunderstood – yet it is where the greatest improvements are reaped. To improve your abilities for using your body you have to improve your coordination. Bruce Lee defined coordination as: “the quality which enables the individual to integrate all the powers and capacities of the whole organism into the effective doing of an act”(Tao of Jeet Kune Do). This is where most people claim there is a disparity between the “natural athlete” and the “unathletic”. However, the disparity here is due to the “natural athlete” thinking about their movement differently than the “unathletic”. Since muscles have no contractile power without the Mind to direct them, it then follows that you have to understand, and train, your Mind to effectively train how you coordinate the use of your muscles

To go back to Bruce Lee: “Training for skill (coordination) is purely a matter of forming proper connections to the nervous system through practice… A badly executed move is the result of impulses sent to the wrong muscles by the nervous system, or sent a fraction of a second too soon or too late, or sent in improper sequence or in poorly apportioned intensity”. So when you practice, pay attention to the signals your Mind is sending your body. Pay attention to your emotions. Then figure out a way to change the way you’re thinking to overcome the obstacles within your own Mind.

You can do it.

As always, find your way.

-Scooter

Welcome back to School, Fall 2011

jumper

Dear Interested Zoomassers,

Hello ladies and gentlemen, you signed our sheet asking for information and here is that information. First, I’ll start off with our meeting times. We meet Monday through Thursday, at the Fine Arts Center (FAC) from 7:00-8:30pm. Also, we hold weekend jams on Saturdays from 2:00-5:00pm. A jam is an informal session in which people from all around the area come to hang out and train whatever they want.

If you want a taste of practice without actually going to one, check out Get Active! Link: Facebook Event

My next point has to do with skill levels, if you’re afraid you won’t fit in, your fears are irrational. We teach beginners, advanced and high level parkour/freerunning practitioners. We tend to split up some group activies by skill level, so no one should feel bored or over-challenged. If you have either of these problems at practice, please feel free to speak to an instructor. Also, anyone can come, if you’re a student, an adult, we don’t really care. Just sign a health waiver and be ready to go. The only requirement for a UMass student to be come an official member is to sign up with us on Campus Pulse; here is the address: http://umassamherst.collegiatelink.net/organization/parkour

Finally, you all should check out our own Marc Freccero in his 2011 showreel. He is the PR representative afterall…

I love summer


Check out the flickr album from The Daily Collegian

To make your day even better, our amazing college newspaper sent out a photographer to see what we do!

If you’re not training hard already, its definitely time to get on that… but don’t fret, scooter and trav are coming up with a muscle busting workout that will make you a movement machine.

In addition to some ass-kickin’ workouts we’ve got some multimedia for you to check out our newest video!

Here’s our video from the awesome Mother’s Day Jam:

Finally, check out Snap Goes the Magic Camera, a sweet photoblog about UMass athletes!


Ill photo blog with a look at some hot action!

Beginner’s Guide: Part I

Trav balance

It seems obvious that practicing basic skills will pay off for any practitioner of parkour, freerunning, etc. but often even advanced practitioners have not mastered the basics of movement before trying more complex tricks. Many of these people never seem to develop the ability to flow between movements and objects and end up simply doing a series of disconnected tricks. This is fine; however, I personally strive to move beyond just “fine”.

Alright, so the point of this blog post is to teach you something about movement. The first skill that you will want to acquire is a high quality landing. Check this out: American Parkour Landing Tutorial. So mainly, you’re going to want to have good leg positioning and absorption as to avoid any injury. And please, don’t think that since you’ve watched a video on landing and rolling that you can jump off of a roof without injuring yourself… these skills should be practiced close to the ground. Once the skill and leg strength are present, then one can progress to higher jumps.

So, you’ve got a basic idea of how to land now, but you want to take it to some thing more structurally interesting… well I have a great video for you:

Remember, you now have an idea of how to land and fall safely, but you should also practice your roll! And DO NOT roll along the spine, roll across okay?

That’s it for today, learn your landings and ALWAYS land as silently as possible.

- travesty intl.

Fitness

Downs attack

There is a trend that many of us have been noticing (it’s been going on for as long as we can remember) relating to many of the new people coming to club meetings, and even many people who have been coming for quite a while. That trend has been a fundamental misunderstanding of how to grow and improve in Parkour; and I daresay that up to this point we officers have not been doing a good enough job in clearing up the confusion. Many people have been showing up to meetings expecting to immediately learn how to do incredible moves, and most of these people are the ones that don’t come back after having their expectations be let down after their first training session. Let me make this clear, we can try and teach you technique for days, weeks, or even months, but if you do not have the necessary strength/flexibility/etc to perform the technique then all of our teaching will be fruitless.

The base from which all Parkour flows is your body. Training technique without training fitness is like trying to build a house with only a hacksaw, a bucket of rusty nails, and a rock for a hammer; you just won’t have the tools to adequately do the job. I am definitely not saying don’t show up if you’re out of shape, in fact if you are please come more often so you can get more out of training. What I am saying is don’t expect to magically improve without “working out”. Improving in Parkour is a struggle and takes effort and it’s only when you put in that effort that you’ll see good results. If you don’t know where to start in working out please ask any of us officers, we are all more than happy to take some time to go over exercises and workouts and we can even write up a plan for you if you want. After all, we’re here to help.

Parkour can be the most rewarding experience in your life; you just have to put in the effort. In time you’ll come to realize that that concept doesn’t only apply to Parkour, but everything you do. But before you do something, whether it’s trying a new technique, doing your homework (or not), or anything else in your life, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Find out why it’s important to you that you do it. Only once you know that answer will you be able to put your heart and soul into whatever you choose to do. So, if you want to show up to meetings and watch everybody else improve quickly while you watch, so be it. I’ll be there to crack jokes and have a fun time with you regardless. But if you really want to improve yourself in both mind and body, get ready to put in the effort.

As always, find your way.
-Scooter

Vacation Thoughts

Seth's copyrighted move, the side kong.

First I just want to congratulate everyone on a great fall semester. I believe that as a group we all progressed physically and mentally. I look forward to continuing this progress next semester.

That aside, I wanted to talk about vacation. I know that as it gets colder and starts to snow, most of us will not be going outside to run up walls and vault tables. This does not mean that we should get lazy however. It is very important that everybody stays in shape over vacation so that when we resume practice next semester we don’t have to play catch up and get back in shape. There are a number of things you can all do to ensure you don’t get fat and lazy over break. If you’re lucky enough to have a gymnastics gym close to you it is a great place to practice flips and you can do all sorts of crazy vaults on their equipment. Assuming most people won’t have access to a gymnastics gym you can still stay in shape. If weight gyms are your thing, you should check to see if your local gym has a college vacation special, where you can just get a membership for the month or so that you are home. If you don’t like gyms you can get a copy of P90X, which is a great fitness program. It is a little expensive but ask around and you may be able to find a friend you can borrow it from. You could also just lift some free weights in your basements or bundle up and go for a run. At the very least do some pushups, sit-ups, and plyometrics on your stairs 4 or 5 times a week. Taking this step will keep everyone in prime form for another great semester of parkour.

Good luck everyone and I hope you have a great Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) vacation.

Seth