Why we train.

downs flips

Sebastien Foucan (the man accredited with the founding of “Freerunning” and host of the website http://www.freerunningtv.com/) recently interviewed the accredited founder of Parkour, David Belle. The two have been friends since childhood and trained together for many years, and lately both have become aware of a shift in the reasons why people involved in these disciplines train. Back when they first started training these men, and the rest of the Yamakasi, trained in an effort to strengthen themselves and the people they trained with. Their name, “Yamakasi”, originates from the African Congolese Lingala language meaning loosely ‘Strong Man, Strong Spirit’, and it sums up the original and still core aim of their discipline – to be a strong individual: physically, mentally and ethically (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamakasi). However, Sebastien, David, and other pioneers of these disciplines have started to vocalize their thoughts on this shift in attitude. For the interview follow this link to see Sebastien Foucan interview David Belle.

Their fear is that people these days are wandering away from the deeper meaning of Parkour and Freerunning. They see all of these kids who are introduced to these disciplines by videos on youtube and immediately they think it’s all about producing the best looking and flashiest video edit, being able to do the biggest tricks and sickest flips. Wisely Foucan and Belle are both extremely hesitant to call this shift “bad” or a “negative” thing, they merely say it is just different from how they see things. Being someone who sees eye to eye with them, I agree with their phrasing. It is not inherently “bad” or “worse” to train in Parkour and Freerunning for the, at least partial, purpose of showing off, it merely makes the disciplines mean something different to the person training for that reason. If what you value is being the first to throw triple-flips with impunity for the sake of being put on adverts and featured in movies, more power to you. But if you seek something else, like to strengthen and grow as an individual and help those around you do the same, Parkour and Freerunning offer that as well.

What it comes down to is figuring out what you want from Parkour and/or Freerunning. For the officers of this club, they mean to us what they mean to Foucan and Belle. We wish to grow from the experience, both physically and mentally, and even have fun while doing it. Parkour and Freerunning are amazing in that they can give you just about anything you seek provided you put in the effort.

So, I’ll leave you with this, listen to why other people train. Listen to the Foucans, the Belles, the Shieffs, the Ilabacas, the 15 year olds who just watched 100 youtube videos in one day and decided they want to start training, the gymnasts, the breakdancers, and even the “e-runners” -those self proclaimed experts on these arts who have not trained a day in their life but can rattle off the top youtube videos like they’re scripture. Listen to all of them. But, never, NEVER, take what they say as the absolute truth about Parkour or Freerunning. That is up to you to decide. Take that knowledge you get from listening and use it to formulate your own ideas and opinions about what they mean to you. As the title of Sebastien Foucan’s book wisely says: “Find your way”. PK/FR are not static. They are fluid and can be as complex, simple, profound, or shallow as you make them.

Find your way.


reason to train: freedom

Trav hits a precision

Today I want to share a few ideas and a few quotes from leaders of the human motion revolution. But before that I want to share a video that was recently posted on youtube: Drozd 2010

What is the human motion revolution? It is a concept really, movement for social betterment, in freeing your body you can free your mind. Sound far-fetched? Well, let me explain, (if you have seen the matrix this might make a little more sense) Americans (can’t speak for the rest of the world) are easily trained to act in a certain way, even if acting in this way isn’t going to positively influence their life:

“Be aware of every action that you’re doing… life is training… everything is my training… emotion is a choice as well.” Daniel Ilabaca (1)

One example is the problem of excess weight we have in the county, 1/3 of this country is overweight and 1/3 is obese. Really, look it up. By letting advertisers convince you to eat unhealthy meals you are not free to see the truth, if you gain too much weight you’ll die from the effects of excess weight. By choosing to eat in a way that suits your body you have freed yourself from certain chains. But what reason is there to change? Because it will be hard, it will have moments of failure and some pain, hmm this reminds me of parkour:

“When I think about all the physical training he went through I tell myself “Is that the price to pay to get that good? Fuck it’s really hard!” Many people pay to get trained, but I reckon if any of them would have trained with him only one day, none of them would have ever come back. That’s how hard it is. So many people try to train easy “Come do Parkour! it’s really cool!”. But if tomorrow I made you do real training, you would end up crying. That’s what you need to know: you are going to cry, you are going to bleed and you are going to sweat like never before. I can’t lie to you about that. Now if you come telling me “Hey I want to learn Parkour, but go easy on me, I don’t want to push too much”, well go do something else! It is for warriors. A training method for warriors. It is not like “I want to learn how to fight; but please don’t hit me too hard because I don’t like it”. If that’s the case, go do something else! If you want to be a real warrior you have to go through hard times.” David Belle (2)

For those of you who never exercised, who never played sports, try personalized movement… don’t be discouraged! UMass parkour is open to non-warriors! David Belle is speaking of a high level of proficiency that is definitely optimal but not required. People are simply meant to move, it has been so since our evolution:

“he find indigenous people in the jungle and ah yes, they are strong and they jump and to find food they chase and oh oh oh, and they climb and after he developed ten techniques exercises to have d’tente, the long jump, you have high jump, quadropedie (walking on all fours), notation, nager swimming, climbing, lancer (throwing), rah rah rah, (mumbling his list) you have defense like fight. On the internet you can find all this. Methode naturelle, George Herbert. He invented the method. It was a long time ago. This is the origin of our discipline, the real discipline, nobody can to discuss about this” Sebastien Foucan (This quote is from when his English was not as proficient – thanks scooter) (3)

Humans become depressed and unhealthy when we don’t move, the status of my country proves this fact. As a supporter of the “Health @ Any Size” concept, I think everyone just needs to get out and exercise regularly, simply: move. One way to move is parkour. However, once you can do parkour, your lifestyle changes to suit the way you’d like to move. You are able to free your body while using your mind creatively even in everyday situations. If you’re interested, an easy way to start parkour is to learn some of our techniques(often safety vaults, quadrupedal movement, balance, climbing, jumping, rolling, landing, cat leaps, more vaults, cranes, sprinting, jogging, wall kicks etc.):

“You learn these few skills and suddenly it’s like you start to look at the world a bit open…a little bit more open I should say…and everything else out there that can sort of push you towards your goals. And don’t dream little and take the same path that everyone else has taken, there are tons of paths out there. And so, that’s what I’m trying to promote…just to be creative, just to be outgoing, just to go for what you want to do.” Dan Iaboni (4)

You should really find that movement can bring you to whatever place you’d like to be… after you learn a few skills in each “movement category” you are more and more free to express yourself. If you like dancing, martial arts, gymnastics, etc. you should still have a solid basis in environmental navigation, if you can’t move then you are a prisoner. You are a prisoner to your own body (which isn’t strong enough to support you) and you are a prison to a society where people walk along designated paths and sit more than any human should. Just my opinion of course, take your own path, I simply want to share the freedom that comes with movement with all who will listen.

- travesty international


(1) http://www.misterparkour.com/exclusive-interview-with-daniel-ilabaca/
(2) http://www.urbanfreeflow.com/2009/04/18/david-belle-interview/
(3) http://www.urbanfreeflow.com/2008/12/24/sebastien-foucan-interview/
(4) http://3006-f08.wikispaces.com/dan1.2

October 2010

Hello parkour community. Recently a couple car loads of UMass students went out to Boston to see the second part (the first being in Tampa) of the first set of freerunning competitions in America. Training with professionals was great and there were a lot of awesome kids who came out to the city like us to train. Red Bull has put up some nice photos here: Art of Motion: Boston.

Red Bull AOM Boston

As for the rest of the semester, we will be practicing regularly (every weekday but friday) and jamming on saturdays as long as the weather isn’t too unforgiving. Check out facebook page for details on practices and other meetups.

Also, we are finally starting to get some mats, soon enough we’re going to need our own training gym (the “kong vault” anyone?) Currently we have two vault boxes, two precision trainers, and a couple of beat up mats. If anyone has any old gymnastics equipment or any other useful object that they no longer use… please get in contact with us, we’ll even pick it up!

Also, if you haven’t done these two things already… please do. 1) Sign a Health Waiver (applies to anyone who attends) and 2) if you want to be an official member (applies to UMass students only) you need to join up on Campus Pulse. Thanks.

Finally, we’ve got a few things happening this weekend. We’re starting to release a series of training videos on UMPK’s Youtube Account and we’re hosting a Saturday Jam at 2:00pm, meet up in front of the Fine Arts Center.

Thanks for reading, train hard and train safely! Now go practice some movement!