A potted history of parkour
Parkour is the non-competitive physical discipline of training to move freely over and through any terrain using only the abilities of the body, principally through running, jumping, climbing and quadrupedal movement. In practice it focuses on developing the fundamental attributes required for such movement, which include functional strength and fitness, balance, spatial awareness, agility, coordination, precision, control and creative vision.
The word comes from the French 'parcours', which literally means, 'the way through', or 'the path'. What we now all know as 'Parkour' with a 'k' had its origins in a training program for French Special Forces known as 'Parcours du combattant', or 'The Path of the Warrior'. It was Frenchman David Belle, son of a Parcours Warrior and the 'inventor' of Parkour, who changed the 'c' to a 'k' and, formed the Yamakazi group.
According to the strictest definition, Parkour is the act of moving from point 'a' to point 'b' using the obstacles in your path to increase your efficiency. A basic repertoire of moves developed over the years, like the 'tic-tac', the 'kong vault' and the 'gap jump' that make Parkour immediately recognizable to most people who see it, though it hasn’t been codified or formalised in to a sport.
The practice evolved from a strictly efficient system to incorporating other moves that looked good, such as flips, handstands and spins. Sebastien pursued this path and David Belle stuck with the purely efficient style and two different practices began developing side by side.
For a long time, people argued about the differences between Parkour and Freerunning but the new generation of practitioners who were inspired by YouTube added to the fledgling discipline with their own take on it, some in urban environments, some in nature.
Should there be competitions and should it be recognised as an official sport?
These are ongoing questions and time will tell how the practice evolves.
Parkour, fundamentally, is a philosophy, and a way a life. It’s a way of looking at any environment and believing in your heart that there is no obstacle in life that cannot be overcome. Everyone is a unique individual, so no two people will come up with the exact same solution, but there is a 'way through' for us all; the only way out is through.
It encourages self-improvement on all levels, revealing one’s physical and mental limits while simultaneously offering ways to overcome them. It is a method of training one’s body and mind in order to be as completely functional, effective and liberated as possible in any environment. The practice aims to build confidence, determination, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility for one’s actions. It encourages humility, respect for others and for one’s environment, self-expression, community spirit, and the importance of play, discovery and safety at all times.
My new favourite YouTuber, a beautiful place for a swim and the endless search for stretchy trousers I can train in.
Frances’ week in links.
Interoception is the awareness of internal body sensations and provides us with information about how our body is feeling on the inside and is the way we self-regulate to ensure that we look after ourselves, allowing us to sense things like pain, hunger or thirst and take appropriate action based on these signals.
Perception can determine reality so, although there are certain factors (such as age or gender) that can make us more vulnerable to victim selection, we can stack the deck in our favour by adopting confident body language. As Jerry Sternin said, ‘it’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.’
Our whole culture is underpinned by measured time. Instruments invented to track time have been traced back about 6000 years to the Egyptians yet it was only about 500 years ago that clocks became precise enough to be measured and minutes and seconds became the universal norm. To put this in perspective, if accepted human history spans 24 hours, 43 minutes represents the amount of time since clocks were invented and 3.5 minutes since we began using minutes and seconds.
A stone tray is a great way to reintroduce movement for our feet and requires very little time or effort - maximum gain for minimum effort!
Variety is the spice of life, so they say, and this applies as much to our feet as it does to other aspects of our lives. Convenience has its price and barefoot shoes can only do so much if we’re always walking on level surfaces and this limits restoring foot mobility.
Flexibility isn’t about using physical force to lengthen muscles, it’s about communication; reassuring our nervous system that a particular range of motion is safe to move into.
Functional: To be practical and useful, rather than attractive.
That is the definition of the word Functional, so then why are so many of the functional exercises we see popularized currently so useless. Most functional training fails to replicate anything you would actually do in your everyday life, and that’s what I’m going to look at in this video
When I was 18, I had a friend who was a lot older than me and when I visited her the only furniture in the house was a rocking chair (reserved for her partner) and a futon mattress that was used as her sofa. It never occurred to me to ask her why she’d chosen this living arrangement; I guess I chalked it up to her being ‘alternative’. Fast-forward a good many years later and here I am, in my own furniture-less abode.
Concentrating for long periods of time in a meeting room is hard going; how many of you have felt drowsy and unable to pay attention as the time goes on, reaching for another snack or cup of coffee to keep awake?
When you leave the room you take a few deep breaths, or go and stand outside and feel refreshed, like you’ve woken up.
There’s a sense that offices are benign places, that nothing bad happens in them, yet this veneer of respectability hides another truth.
Stand still. Absolutely still. Oh wait, you can’t.
Pressure mapping has confirmed that we are never 100% still when we’re standing up; there’s a wobble here, a wobble there, constantly readjusting minutely and imperceptibly. Our centre of mass moves one way and then our soft tissues correct it by bringing us back towards the midline so we don’t fall over and can concentrate on other things during the day.
The book was ‘On The Road’, originally published in 1957 and written by Jack Kerouac. It’s become a classic of American literary counterculture and spawned the notion of ‘going away to find yourself’, an idea enthusiastically adopted by hippies which now finds itself clinging on for dear life under the guise of a ‘gap year’.
Whenever we travel for work we add-on a day or two to take in the sights and see a little bit of the world. We were working with a family in Lancaster, so checked the map and saw a huge forest close by and decided to detour back through it on our way home.
The Forest of Bowland is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty according to Google. Here is our experience of it.
I discovered the artist Dylan Louis Monroe and his Deep State Mapping projects earlier this year and have been eagerly awaiting the release of his free pdf ‘Healing Web’ which has finally been released today. His ‘Q-Web’ diagram spread virally across the dark web in 2018, becoming a worldwide phenomenon. It was published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibit ‘Everything is Connected’ in September 2018.
It’s all too common to see people proudly filming their torn, bloody calluses and posting them on Instagram as a badge of honour, ‘Hey, look how hard I’ve been working! Now I’ll be out of action for a week but I’m really hardcore. I chose not to nurture my calluses as that wouldn’t make such a great IG post!’. I’m assuming you’re not one of those people, as it’s unlikely you’d be reading this article.
I consider Aldi a barometer of the times. Last week I was perusing the mythical middle aisle and came across organic, Japanese matcha powder. I’ve been in the health and wellness world for coming up to 20 years and remember a time when it was a struggle to find many ‘superfoods’ in health foods shops, let alone a small supermaket. Then you see it on a Starbucks menu and know it’s reached the big time.
If the axiom ‘how you do anything is how you do everything’ is true, then it isn’t a surprise to note how modernity’s love of reductionism has its fingerprints all over the movement world.
All too often I see people training in a compartmentalised way, working parts of their body in one plane of motion, seemingly forgetting that movement takes place in glorious 3-D.
For most of our time here as a species we’ve been mooching around barefoot as our feet are superbly engineered to deal with rough and uneven terrain. The barefoot movement of the last decade has sought to unshackle our feet from the casts of shoes, supported by the resurgence of interest in all things wild and natural.
A reductionist approach to health is symptomatic of an old paradigm, one that is being undermined more and more by research showing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Health isn’t just the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being - defined as such by the World Health Organisation.
As time moves on and more research is done on the subject it becomes increasingly clear that sitting at a desk all day isn't good for us, in either body or mind. The modern office based lifestyle is very different from the lifestyle of our prehistoric hunter gatherer ancestors, and yet our bodies aren't all that different at all, and this is the crux of the problem, our bodies just aren't equipped to deal with long periods of being still, if we were, we would be a tree, perfectly designed to sit in one place of years upon years.
We spend a large chunk of our lives lugging around inherited beliefs and assumptions without ever stopping to take stock of whether we believe them or if they serve us; we’re the product of our environment, the caregivers who shaped us, instilled their values into us. Now we’re all grown up, we reflect it back out into the world and these stories we tell ourselves shape our internal model of reality.
Here at Movementum, we’re wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year!
Enjoy a few alternative Christmas songs we’ve selected; the perfect accompaniment to a mulled wine and mince pie.
Who among you has sworn off coffee because it doesn’t fit into your clean living regime?
Coffee is one of the first things to be sacrificed on the altar of health and giving it up is a sign you’ve committed to the task of upgrading yourself.
For a lot of people, this marks their off-season of outdoor training, either retreating to the indoor gym or the sanctuary of the sofa. Wind, rain, cold and frost can be seen as signals to bed-in and hibernate because, as humans, we are naturally drawn to comfort and seek it every chance we get.
If we are more stable with a wide base of support, then it follows we are less stable when it is narrow; imagine how you would feel if your own contact with the ground was the size of an ice skate. No doubt with an ice skate sized base of support, your postural setup would be sub-optimal and this adaptation echoes all the way up the body because the foot isn’t languishing alone in the wilderness; it’s connected to everything.
Over-training in its broadest sense is the imbalance between training and recovery; if sufficient rest is not included in a training program then regeneration cannot occur and performance plateaus. The most common symptom is fatigue as well as becoming moody, depressed, losing enthusiasm for training and disrupted sleep patterns.
We decided to create a journal where we’ll share our blogs and videos about the concepts around natural movement and lifestyle, the AiM philosophy around pain & injury as well as some behind the scenes of us when we’re performing and choreographing.
MovNat is a physical education & fitness system based on the full range of natural human movement abilities. These include the locomotive skills of walking, running, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing & swimming. In addition we practice the manipulative skills of lifting, carrying, throwing & catching. How we move is how we train.
To develop physical courage first we need to start with the mind; there are so many obstacles to overcome and many of them are self-created. I think of it sometimes as a form of psychological warfare I engage myself with. Fear is the root of them all and they manifest in so many forms - fear of injury, fear of people watching, fear of judgement, fear of failure.
How can we know what we are capable of achieving if we never move in to the unknown? Our limits are only stretched once we step outside into what is known as the edge. I found it curious that this place is a psychological one as well as a physical one.