Monday, April 14, 2014

Mom



While watching this video I started to realize where they were going with it pretty quickly. Still, when they got to the "punchline", I was hit with a ton of memories and a ton of emotions.

Some of you have read a little bit of my story in other posts here, and some of you have listened to me talk about my story at the end of classes or after class (thank you to those students who care to listen and inquire, by the way!). What you may not have gotten from those reads is that my mom is the single largest influence on me and what I do with my life now.

I watched my mom struggle for 9 years after losing her job at Chase Bank (formerly Bank One, formerly First Chicago Bank) in 2001. That was her first and ONLY job, she held that job for 35 years. That taught me that big companies do NOT care about their employees. It also taught me that I should not spend my entire life working for other people. My mom hardly ever took any vacations. In fact, I remember seeing photos of us going to Disneyland when I was very little, but aside from that I couldn't tell you a single time that she actually used any vacation time. She was not a greedy person by any means and did not seek a lavish lifestyle, but she worked so much because I believe it made her feel she had a purpose and because it helped her take care of us, her kids. She taught me not to take money too seriously. That a life spent in a Chase (get it? Chase...) after money is a life somewhat wasted. That all the money, toys, games, and other material things cannot replace time spent together and the memories made.

Her battle looking for a new job with no other experience and no schooling taught me that it was a good idea to be a "jack of all trades". She was a BIG worrier and it caused her a lot of stress - this taught me to try not to worry so much, even when things get bad. I learned a lot of things from my mom, even if not directly through her words.

A few years later my mom started having stomach pains and finally went in to have it checked after some time dealing with it. She was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and they originally told her that she had maybe 6 months to live. I thought she was stressed and worried before... this brought it to a whole new level.

Seeing her go through her treatments was hard. Once she started chemotherapy, she began to lose her hair and was often sick. I'd never seen my mom like this before and it was heart-wrenching. She worked at a Target store now, in Indiana where the minimum wage is lower than ours in Illinois. She went from a $60,000 salary position to making probably around $8 or less per hour as a cashier. This taught me that sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

My mom kept working all throughout her treatment. It became very difficult for her to stand at work all day, and moving around was difficult for her too. She kept going. She had to, or the insurance wouldn't help her pay for the treatments anymore. She talked about being tired and being in pain, but I don't recall her even once complaining that she had to be working.

The cancer spread throughout her body over time. Eventually she had to have an end colostomy. I remember she was terrified of the idea of this procedure and did not want to have it done. But she did. Again, teaching me that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do.

My mom died in June, 2010. She kept working as a cashier at Target up until about two weeks before she died. She lived for quite a bit longer than the 6 months they originally gave her.

This video reminded me of all the stuff that my siblings and I put my mom through while we were growing up. All the trouble we got into at school and out of school, all the arguments and fights we all had with her, all of the toys and videogames she spent money on when we were kids. The rides to work she gave us; always on time to pick us up after work and she'd usually end up waiting outside until we were done. The help she gave my sister and her husband while they were having troubled times of their own with two kids. I often wondered how and why she continued to put up with it all. She never gave up on us.

My mom taught me to help other people. There is a memory of her that always finds its way back into my mind from time to time. We (my mom, brother, and myself) were driving down a road next to the highway one summer, on a very hot day. Over the chain-link fence between us and the highway, she spotted a vehicle broken down with a group of people standing outside of it in the heat. My mom drove to the store, bought a cold pack of Pepsi bottles, turned around and drove back to get out of the car and hand them to those people over the fence.

She taught me to care, even if it seems like caring might not change anything.

Though my mom wasn't very active in her lifetime and was definitely not in any shape to do what I do now, I believe that my mom taught me how to live with the Art du Déplacement mindset. I often think of her when I am training. When we are doing tougher exercises (for instance, copious amounts of quadrupedal movement...) I find the strength to continue on by thinking about my mom finding the strength to go through what she had to go through. I have made some bigger, scarier jumps and gotten up some taller walls by telling myself that my mom is over/up there and that I need to save her.

I love you mom, and I miss you.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

DIVERGENT - On Set & Behind-the-Scenes!

If you haven't already found these photos I took on set of DIVERGENT (#1 movie in America for its release week!) on our Facebook page, here they are! Scroll all the way down for a behind-the-scenes look at one of the train jumps we did!


Behind-the-Scenes Video:



Read a bit more about the jump from this email we sent out to all of our students and parents!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chicago PD Behind-The-Scenes

Some of you are already aware, but I've been doing some stunt work here and there since late 2012. My most recent work was on NBC's Chicago PD and the episode aired last week. Catch me doubling Officer Halstead (played by Jesse Lee Soffer, the same actor I doubled in FOX's "The Mob Doctor") as he chases down a purse-snatcher (doubled by my friend Alex Hashioka)! Below is behind-the-scenes look at the work we did for this episode. See the entire episode here on Hulu!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Our Job

Real life gets tough. It's not easy. We condition to become stronger, to build up what we call body armour. Crawling is one way we prepare our bodies for our jumps and yes, our falls too. Everyone will fail and fall eventually, it is but a matter of time. The more body armour we have, the less we will be hurt by these falls. It is also a way for us to learn to push through struggles and to find that "something" within ourselves to continue through hard times.

It is our job as Parkour/ADD instructors to get younger students ready for real life, and to give older students a way to get through it. To teach them that we must not give up, to teach them that effort produces results. We must show them that they are capable of much more than they think they are. Give them confidence in every day life so that they do not have to fear what others think of them, what others say of them.

Parkour & Art du Déplacement training can and should allow you to build and discover strength, in every sense of the word.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Parkour Ways Cebu: A Mission


I'm excited to be writing my first article for Parkour Ways/ ADD Chicago, for Parkour Ways Cebu! It's been a long time that Kurt Gowan and I have known each other, and have come to be more than just good friends, more than just team mates, but brothers. I'm super happy about the direction our individual work is going, and even more happy that we're finally working together in two separate areas, to create a strong link between two different worlds, united through (and over and under) this lifestyle of parkour.

My name is John Conway, and I'm currently investing my energies in a large community of people on a small island in the middle of the Philippines - Cebu. There are oh so many reasons as to why I enjoy Cebu, but nothing tops the #1 reason as to why I chose Cebu as my home base: the people. I get asked many times by the Cebuanos why I love it here, and I always say it's the people. They're used to hearing that answer, to be honest, but it's the truth! The passion of the Cebuano is truly amazing.


I'm here in Cebu to build a parkour community. Simple as that. It's my dream to introduce parkour to a new area of the world, sustain it, and make it last so that when the time comes, others can take the leadership position. I think in more ways than one Cebu has so much potential, outstanding energy, and a never-ending source of hope, love, and passion that creating a strong parkour community infused with the classic ideals of altruism, strength, community, creativity and challenge is by no means a difficult mission.

There's one thing that truly struck me as unusual when I first started teaching here. That was the dedication to a serious, safe, and healthy training style! I've taught in many places around the world, but no location has yet captivated me as to how determined those interested in parkour are to serious, wholesome training: forget the flips, give me the fitness. What a beautiful thing. Any instructor can tell you how miraculous that truly is. And that's just another reason why I enjoy teaching in Cebu so much - I know that those who show up to class, whether it's a first time or tenth, that they are there for fun, serious self-development...always with a smile!

Cebu certainly has it's own challenges. For instance, I haven't trained on a normal hand rail in 3 months - they're just not around; the dust makes even the most precise of precisions a bit questionable (my favorite move is the precision); and the heat of the day makes it almost unsafe to train at anytime other than late evening to night.

Given the challenges, however, nothing comes close to the joy that is so apparent on the faces of those who come to learn parkour in Cebu. There is a certain innocence, or perhaps inherent understanding, that what parkour is about is not the crazy things we see on YouTube, but about the joy of working hard, and working together, to have a stronger life.

And that's why I love Cebu. That's why I love the Cebuano. And that's why I love teaching parkour here - even with the environmental challenges, there is a deep desire to push past even those to finally begin the unique discipline that is parkour, and to face those challenges as well. There are many mountains on this island, and it seems every one is faced with a smile.

I look forward to writing and sharing more about my time here in Cebu (and it will be a long time) and to further develop Parkour Ways Cebu, in alliance with my brother, my best friend and international team mate Kurt Gowan running Parkor Ways / ADD Chicago. I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to make my dream a reality.

Smile. :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Keep Calm and...

So here's my day real quick: woke up two hours after my alarm was supposed to wake me (because I'm a beast at sleeping, not because I'm bad at waking up...), rushed to get ready and leave the house. Stepped outside to see that it snowed again and was still snowing, so I had to brush off my car and I knew traffic was going to take forever. I didn't want to be late to the school workshops today, but I still wanted to go to the gym to dismantle equipment and pack it into my car before I headed over there. The GPS was saying I'd make it... so I took the risk.

I went to the gym, dismantled all the metal rails and put them in the car. Next I picked up one of the smaller vault boxes and carried it down the stairs and was headed out the door with it. I was holding the box up with one arm and pushing the door open with the other. I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left hand. I looked over at my hand immediately, and realized there was a BEE on my palm. It had stung me. I yelled out a nice word in pain (use your imagination for that one) and flung the bee to the ground. I had actually seen that same bee on Monday night when I dropped off this smaller vault box at the gym. When I saw it, I thought "that's weird, they should all be dead...oh well" and let it bee (har har). My mistake I guess.

So I put the box into the car, put some snow on my hand right away and continued. I got in the car, rolled the window down and started to drive with my hand hanging out the window (it was probably about 15 degrees out withOUT the windchill while I was driving on the highway). I connected my phone to the stereo to put my music on. I set it to shuffle. The first song that comes on: "We Swarm" by The Glitch Mob. I laughed out loud for a little while. You gots good jokes, life... good jokes!

I kept my hand numb out the window for most of the 35-minute drive to the school in Riverside. I arrived there without any problems, carried the equipment in, and started setting up. The classes were pretty hectic, those kids had a ton of energy and quite a few of them didn't know how to deal with it! The vast majority ended up doing really well though, and learned a handful of movements. Oddly enough, in a K-5 school, the 1st graders were the best behaved!

Lunchtime rolled around. Kids started pouring into the gym, apparently that's where some of them spend their lunch period to eat (there are benches/ledges along the walls). One of them who had asked about getting my autograph before during the class came up to me and said he had paper now (I asked him to get paper and a pen when he asked me during the class, because I didn't have any). I dug a pen out of my bag and wrote something down for him real quick. Other kids saw this go down and immediately a huge line was formed. Some of them hadn't even taken the class with me yet, but the other kids had told them who I was. I wrote each kid a personalized message with their name (which I asked each of them, and made sure the spelling was correct) and my "autograph" (weird to say that). I handed out business cards to some of them (my business cards are more like trading cards with a photo covering one entire side, and there were about 12 different photos). My 30 or so cards that I had with me all disappeared fast. So that was half of my lunch period!!

I headed to a Jimmy John's that the staff told me was nearby. When I got to it, I began to turn into their odd entrance for their parking lot - at which point I realized there was a pole I needed to avoid on the right side of my car (I was turning right into the lot). So I made sure to avoid that pole... then realized I hadn't made sure to avoid the BUILDING on the other side of the car. I smashed up the front left of the car a little bit (just cosmetic, cracks/dents in the fiberglass). I actually laughed at myself again, backed up and pulled into a spot.

From there the day didn't get any more interesting really. I had more classes after lunch and before I knew it, the day was over. I saw a lot of the kids as I was heading out of the school with equipment and they were all saying bye and thank you and telling me stories. Kids are great!

So, to recap, I woke up two hours late (which was still 6:00am), drove probably around 200 miles today, packed and unpacked equipment from the car twice, got stung by a bee in the middle of a snowy winter, and drove my car straight into a building... and all of this happened for a workshop that I was doing for free (this particular school didn't have any sort of budget for this sort of thing). My favorite part - I was able to keep a good mood throughout the day.

The point of this blog? I believe that part of one's training should be keeping a positive attitude, and to not take life too seriously! Sometimes bad things will happen. It is up to us to find a way to get through them. Keep calm and train the mind. :)