Archive | Parkour RSS for this section

Parkour as Imagination Practice

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Once you’ve practiced Parkour for a while, your perception of the environment changes dramatically. You develop what the practitioners call Parkour Vision, which opens up a world of movement possibilities that was hiding in plain sight.

Actualizing those movement possibilities, performing the actual movements is fun. However equally fun is visualizing yourself performing the movements. This expands the practice considerably because you’re no longer limited to your immediate environment. You can notice and play with possibilities in your mind as you look at pictures, videos, even movies. You can thus practice even in imaginary locations.

This can never replace the physical embodied practice.

It cannot. However it can be a beautiful supplement.

It’s also imagination practice.

And you can expand the imagination practice even more by imagining yourself as bigger or smaller. You can thus apply Parkour Vision at different levels of magnification. 

I can imagine myself small, and traversing the objects on my table.
I can imagine myself big, and jumping from one building to another, like King Kong.


On Movement: The Unit of Practice

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the fundamental unit of the Movement practice?”

I think not in terms of exercises, but movement-patterns.

Movement-patterns are modular-elements [<link; medium length] which form the basic building-blocks of Movement. 

Take the burpee for instance. 

The burpee, in essence, is a compound movement-pattern combining two basic movement-patterns: a push-up, and a vertical jump. By identifying the structural components, you can turn it into a template [<link; medium]:

Burpee Pattern = Push-Up + x

You can combine the push-up pattern with any other movement-pattern. This opens up creative possibilities.

And we can take this further:

2-Move Pattern = x + y

You can combine any movement-pattern with any other movement-pattern. This opens up a universe of possibilities.

The essence of the 2-move pattern is not in the movement-patterns themselves, but in the transition between them. We might even call the 2-move pattern, the transition-pattern

2-Move Pattern = Transition-Pattern

As you start learning a movement-pattern, the unit of practice is the exercise-pattern.

Exercise-Pattern = x + x

The focus is on doing quality repetitions (reps) of the same movement-pattern until you internalize it.

Once you’ve built a vocabulary of movement-patterns, the unit of practice becomes the transition-pattern.

Transition-Pattern = x + y

The focus is on doing quality transitional-reps. The essential quality of transitional-reps is fluidity.”

“What movement-patterns do you focus on.”

“I use Variety [<link; medium], Utility and Fun as my guides.”

Three Movement Principles

Move in all ways and always move.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Brian Johnson expresses the three most important areas of one’s life as a triad:

The Big Three


If you were to create a triad of guiding-principles for movement, what would they be?”

“My triad would be:


Quality expresses how well you move. This is a very deep principle, transferable to any other area of your life.

Two aspects of this principle are:
– Presence (awareness of your own body and the environment; called Touch in Parkour).
– Efficiency.

As a side note, a good way to assess Efficiency is by paying attention to how much sound you are making. The aim is to move (and land) silently, like a cat (called Stealth in Parkour).

Quantity expresses how often you move. The goal is to maximize movement throughout the day, to creatively

weave movement into the fabric of your daily life

, in the words of Frank Forenchich. This has no upper limit. The metaphor I like to use is that of ‘perpetual motion machine‘. 

Two aspects of this principle are:
– Discovering movement opportunities.
– Creating movement opportunities (‘creating space’ for movement throughout the day).

Variety expresses how varied you move. The goal is to move your whole body, not just parts of it. To move in as many planes of motion as possible. To move all joints through their full range of motion (especially your spine).

Two aspects of this principle are:
– Exploring movement possibilities (climbing, balancing, swinging, jumping, swimming, dancing, etc.).
– Improvising.

You don’t need to know any fancy movements. Simple is beautiful. Make stuff up. Have fun with it.”

The greatest purpose of movement practice is to unlock profoundly meaningful experiences. (Rafe Kelley)


Seek perfection in your locomotion and training to achieve an exceptional quality and standard in your movements, regardless of what they are. (Chris Rowatt)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s your highest aspiration as a Mover?”

“I like to express it as mantra:

Move beautiful.
Every movement a meditation.
Every movement a dance.

Design Spaces: Transitional Space

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean by design space?”

“This is a beautiful concept I know from Mark Rosewater, the head designer for the (collectible card) game Magic the Gathering.

In the context of the game, this means the possibility space around an element of the game in which you can play as a designer to create new cards. Some elements open up lots of possibilities, others not so many. So the design space can vary in size.

In the context of the Art of (Playful) Living, this means the possibility space around an aspect of your life in which you can play as the Life-Designer/Artist to create functional/beautiful structures.

We could say the work of the designer revolves around discovering and exploring design spaces.

I like to think of discovering design spaces as designer-vision.”

“Can you give an example?”

“Let’s take what I call transitional space. In physical terms, getting from point A to point B.”

“Why did you emphasize the physical aspect?”

“Because the concept can be metaphorically expanded to the non-physical.

When getting from A to B, how do we usually do it?”

“By walking.”

“That’s the default action, and the path of least resistance. We do it without thinking about it.

But what if we used the transitional space to maximize movement/training potential?

This is an example of exercising designer-vision. By asking this question, the transitional space between A and B has become a design space.

Movement is food. The more varied the movement, the more nourishing it is. Instead of simply walking from A to B, you can choose to play with different movement possibilities.

You can turn every transitional-space into a creative movement-snack.

In the context of Parkour, by better making use of transitional space you can maximize what I call training density, the amount of training done within a certain time-frame.”

Four ways to structure a practice session

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are they?”

“Focus on rep(etition)s.
eg Balancing for 10 lengths of a rail.

Focus on time.
eg Balancing for 5 minutes.

Focus on breaths.
eg Balancing for 10 deep breaths.

Focus on music.
eg Balancing for 2 songs.

“Which is the best one?”

“None of them is strictly better than the others. They’re simply different flavors to play with.

I especially like the last one because you can incorporate rhythm into your practice, which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.”


I am a mover, I am a thinker, I am a teacher. (Ido Portal)

The (only) reason why I chose to work in a bar is to develop my social skills. So it’s part of my adventure to actualize my potential.

I did, to a certain extent, but as a dear friend astutely observed, I became exceedingly effective at avoiding people while being in their midst.

However there’s an opportunity in every failure. In this case, it was a beautiful instance of serendipity.

Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

I did gain something extremely valuable out of it: it (re)kindled my love of movement, and made me fully embrace my identity of “mover”. 

I am a mover, I am a thinker… and I’d love to be able to say about myself some day: “I am a teacher”.

I haven’t received this much attention in my entire life, working as a nightly bar aid at Belushi’s Hammersmith.

For someone who is not very social (yet), this is quite overwhelming. People seem to like what I’m doing. And what I am doing is move. A lot (and maybe in an aesthetically pleasing way). I move very fast and dance around the tables (and people) while collecting glasses. I’ve been jokingly thinking of inventing a new branch of Parkour:

Crowd Parkour: navigating a crowd of people at high speed

People have been asking me if I’m a dancer. No, but I’d love to be. I want to express myself through movement, and dance is a beautiful direction to explore, next to Parkour.

Interestingly, I didn’t know I can move like this, and (to my mind) I didn’t know how to dance before I started working at Belushi’s. When I started working here I had no idea what to expect. Basically I ended up here by chance, it was the only thing I could find, given my lack of previous bar experience.

Who’d have thought it would end up being such a transformative experience, and one of the most important experiences of my life.

The value of injury

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What’s the best way to think about injury?”

Creative limitation [<link, short read].

The tendency is to focus on the negative, on what you can no longer do.
Turn it upside down, antifragile style.

Focus on the positive.
Focus on the beautiful learning opportunity.
Focus on what you can do, given your current limitation, and start exploring and playing with possibilities.”


Chronological age: Starts the moment you were born and continues to progress with every second of every day.
Biological age: Refers to how old you feel / how healthy you are. It’s influenced by all the (micro!) lifestyle choices you make. Those little things add up and they’re either making us “younger” or older.
(Brian Johnson)

Numbers and dwelling on age is a trap. There is no age, it’s living each moment to its fullest.

I am an ageless spirit. I grow more alive every day and every year. (Alan Cohen, A Daily Dose of Sanity)

We turn not older with years, but newer every day. (Emily Dickinson)

I am renewing every day. (Yann Hnautra)

Every successful man or great genius has three particular qualities in common.
Their minds grow more brilliant as they grow older, instead of less brilliant. Great men’s lives begin at forty, where the mediocre man’s life ends.
The genius remains an ever-flowing fountain of creative achievement until the very last breath he draws.
The thinking of creative and successful men is never exerted in any direction other than that intended. That is why great men produce a prodigious amount of work, seemingly without effort and without fatigue. (Walter Russel)

The best is yet to come.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How does life feel at 40?”

“I like people’s incredulous expression when I tell them I’m 40. There’s something I wrote a long time ago:

Imagination is limited by experience.

To me it’s fascinating how different life looks like at this age than I could possibly have imagined. I would never ever have imagined that I’d be in London, engaged on a deep Path of Mastery, and that the name of this Path would be… Parkour!!

The quotes at the beginning express how I feel about life at this moment in my life. Some people consider themselves ‘old’ at this age. I think that’s a self-limiting belief.

I feel like my life has just BEGUN.

I consider chronological age meaningless, and in terms of biological age, I’m approaching the energy level of the child that I was (and am).

I am a Parkour Athlete / Artist, and that’s something I intend to be… FOREVER.

And, most importantly, those are not just ideas… I’m LIVING them.”

Everyday Enlightenment

I attend Parkour classes at a beautiful place called ‘The Chainstore‘ in London. It’s not your regular dull gym. It’s a place with a heart. An adult playground, where a perpetual playful spirit fills the air.

There is someone attending classes there who smiles all the time. He smiles when he succeeds, and he smiles when he fails. One jokingly remarked at some point that he must be a robot.

Sometimes, while out of balance, I felt irritated at seeing him smiling. But then, one day, I had a profound revelation:

By his way of being, he’s offering me a precious Gift.
He’s showing me a vision of what I COULD be.

I’m deeply grateful for this Gift. I think of it often, and when I do, I evoke his image in my mind, and remember to smile.