Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

Black Friday: Stampedes of incredibly greedy consumers with absolutely no regard for others, literally fighting each other over crap that we DO NOT NEED and WILL NEVER NEED.

If you haven't yet noticed (not sure how you couldn't have noticed...), I'm just as much about the spirit of parkour/art du déplacement as I am the movements themselves. I like to share things that I think are important here. This discipline is not just about the jumping, it's about learning how to be a better person. I like to share things that show the kind of spirit I think people should have, and things that show the opposite - the evil, the dark things that people should avoid and/or strive to get rid of in their lives...

Black Friday. The words have always had a negative tone in my mind, after working 7 years in electronics retail. The number of people that come out for these deals is ridiculous, and even more ridiculous is the attitudes that they come out with, and the sheer ignorance, disrespect, and cruelty to others on display. WHO in their right mind values a discount on a TV or computer more than someone's well-being, or LIFE even??? This country is in a very bad way, and Black Friday continues to show us just how bad it is getting. Seriously, take a few minutes to watch these videos and read the tweets listed underneath:

Not enough to convince you? How about this story about a Wal-Mart employee trampled to death in 2008?

This has got to stop, or we're in big trouble. Next year, we will be putting together efforts to get people to #ForgetBlackFriday.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

Lately I have been talking quite a bit about the importance of helping others, and emphasizing that it is a large part of this discipline of parkour and art du déplacement, and yes, even freerunning. I cannot stress this point enough.

This discipline... the movements we use... let us take a deeper look into what it all is for. Let us come to truly understand why it is that we continue to do these things that we do. I am not just talking about parkour/ADD/freerunning, but life itself (although I will be relating this to our particular discipline of movement). Take a moment and really focus on this. Let it sink in. Especially those of us who are "beginners" in this discipline.

It is not just about the jumping, the climbing or the running. It is not simply about trying to achieve a further jump distance, or to build aesthetically pleasing, toned muscles. It is not entirely about trying to have fun and escape boredom. It is not only about overcoming fears, taking managed risks to push your limits and surpass levels you never imagined you would reach. It is not solely a matter of building confidence in every day life, learning to overcome all types of obstacles and discovering creative solutions to complex situations and problems. It is not merely never giving up, learning to struggle and understanding when it is okay or the right time to let go and move on.

That was a whole lot of "not" - but don't be confused, the discipline does include all of that.

This discipline, even with its endless array of physical aspects, is actually a mindset more than anything else. By "mindset", I do not mean to say that you go out to train and get "in the zone" for training. I do not speak of a "zone" where we are pumping with adrenaline, excited to beast our way through a workout and come out on "top", having learned a new movement or finally "broken a jump" (doing a jump for the first time; often this phrase is used when the jump was difficult for you to wrap your head around or took a bit of training to accomplish). For those of you that have been to one of my classes or events before: I am not talking about a "zone" in which you are struggling to complete a round of quadrupedal movement without giving up, either. We should learn and strive to be in this "zone" all the time.

This "zone" I speak of is really more of a perspective, a way of looking at the world and people around you. A perspective and an understanding of our purpose. When we are training physically, it is a perspective of the reasons we are doing so. When we are struggling (as in those rounds of quadrupedal movement we have grown to love so much... right?), it is a deeper understanding of what really drives us in order to keep going. It is an understanding of our desire to keep trying, no matter what pain it brings us, how long it takes, how much further we have to go. It is a perspective of the connections we have to literally everything around us, whether we can see it or not.

Above, I used the word "beginners" and I put it in quotes. We are all beginners. In this discipline, I believe that there are no beginners and there are no masters. Yes, some people have come to be able to move in ways that others see and sometimes desire to achieve (or maybe even immediately assume that they could never achieve it, which is just not true). But, the biggest difference between "beginners" and the real "masters" of this discipline is just a matter of that perspective, that understanding.

Our "beginners" just have not yet opened their eyes to a way of life in which boundaries do not really exist. The boundaries may always be there - but they are never a definitive end to your path. Physical world boundaries, like handrails and walls. Mental boundaries within, like telling yourself that you cannot do this, or could never do that. Emotional and social boundaries, like feelings of inadequacy, loneliness or inferiority (and the opposites: things like cockiness, having an ego, or feelings of superiority). These things do exist. But they can also all be overcome. There are no "beginners" because there is no end.

Perhaps the most important part of this perspective I have begun to try to put into words is the understanding that we are in this together. Whatever "this" is. We are, each and every one of us, a part of this planet and even the endless universe it belongs to. Divisions between us have, for whatever reason(s), been fabricated in our minds and continue to drive us further and further from our planet and each other every day. We are not apart from our environments. We are included in them, not just surrounded by them. We are not apart from one another either.

Our geographic coordinates do not have any bearing on our importance to this world. Those who argue that their country is "better" than any other are only fooling themselves. We developed countries together as the human race. We searched the world looking for new places, perhaps for new people with which to interact. In our explorations and discoveries we "created" all of these logical but still completely imaginary divisions of ourselves: tribes, villages, towns, cities, counties, states, provinces, countries, continents and the like. We created these divisions but we drew out maps of these lands as well - I would like to think that these maps were an attempt to organize things in a way such that we could find our way back "home" and to stay connected with the ones that we love.

We could now locate each other, no matter how far we may part. At some point (I would suspect out of fear of the unknown and a lack of trust, or out of unmanaged anger or a lack of understanding) this all turned into this "us versus them" mentality. Somebody drew lines on those maps, and somehow we came to believe that those lines were real boundaries and that we are separate people. We now live in a world where wars are started, fights and arguments are common, competition is a part of every day life, and too many have joined this generally unhappy conglomerate of people who believe that they need to achieve a certain standard of modern living. No number of dollars will truly make you happy, no brand name clothing will make you "better" than another human being, nobody really cares what kind of car you drive, how big your TV is or what your rank is in that popular videogame.

We all live and we will all die. Life can and will be unfair at times, for some more than others (the unequal distribution of the unfairness is part of the unfairness...). Part of this perspective is also understanding that fact and accepting it, growing to love your life and all that are or is included in it. However, we should also strive to take care of one another, so that we may continue to provide this wonderful opportunity of life for future generations.

Back to the focus of this article (or rather, coming back to the relation to parkour/ADD/freerunning). This "mindset", "zone", "perspective"... call it what you want really... I believe that this is the spirit of our discipline. It is not a spirit that is only to be paired with our vaults, precision jumps, cat leaps or any of our many movements.

The spirit carries through all of life. The training of the spirit (no matter how or what it is that you train) helps us discover, re-discover, and share this connection. Through this connection... through the spirit... we can come together, understand and love one another non-selectively, and move forward... always together, because we can never really be apart.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Philippines Fundraiser Event Follow-Up

Tonight's fundraiser event for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was a success, I'd say! We had about 15 people in the gym, and once everyone got settled in we started a great warm-up together, and of course, finished it together! Everyone did an awesome job, putting in effort and pushing through the tough exercises. Before the warm-up got started I explained that the it would be quite difficult.

The idea behind the difficulty (well, besides the fact that we always like to make it difficult...) was to go through a struggle together, not just with the people sharing the room with us at the time, but to share some of the struggle these survivors of the typhoon are going through over there on the other side of the planet as well. In our struggle, we were linked with them, connected through the spirit of this discipline.

We raised $223 tonight, that brings our numbers to $348 total so far with our fundraising efforts!! I was very pleased with the donations made tonight, I felt that people were really giving what they could and weren't just there for a $5 workout or open gym. It means a lot to me, and to this family the money will be sent to. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing this experience with us tonight, and I hope to see you all again soon. More photos and a video to come later!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Schedule Page

New schedule page is up! It's pretty simple, but very effective. Features:

  • Quickly see today's activities and the next 6 days of classes/events. Browse past and future dates as well!
  • See how many students are signed up and whether or not there is space left in each class.
  • Easily spot classes that are starting soon (dimmed and marked "PAST DEADLINE"), classes that have already passed (dimmed) or classes that have been canceled (red).
  • Find your preferred class type and location easily with color-coded titles and borders.
  • Simply click on a class or event to open up the MindBody schedule to the week of that date.

All of this is viewed directly on our page. If anyone has any suggestions for this, please do share! Keep in mind this took me a week to figure out and accomplish, so not too many complaints please. ;)

Also, if you didn't already know, you're now able to sign in for classes quickly and easily with your smartphone (iPhone/android) with the new MindBody Connect app! Look for it in the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.

See the New Schedule Page Now

Friday, November 15, 2013

Response to Response

In response to my post "A Very Important Discussion" and Stephane's blog "The SPLIT", Chad Zwadlo of Fight or Flight Academy in Minnesota had this to say:

First Chad, let me say that my article was in no way directed at you, your community, or your operations. If you took it that way, then maybe you aren't confident in the way you are doing things yourself. I know that your movements are great, and that you can teach movements. And don't get me wrong, you're absolutely right that I have not been to your gym or any of your classes, so I'm not pointing a finger. I just don't understand how you took it as a finger pointed at you, when it was not.

For you to tell me that I am "not teaching them to understand" is offensive to me. I make my best efforts to get these kids to understand what it's really about. Hence my avoiding teaching them flips all together. Neglecting them? I am not neglecting them in any way, shape, or form. The problem is the media and the "practitioners" who allow them and things like Red Bull to come into the picture and completely misconstrue what we do. The problem is the people who just throw trick after trick and post it on YouTube to get views, and then call it parkour or freerunning. No matter how long someone has been training or how many years they've spent off-camera, it doesn't negate their effects on the public's views of the discipline when they do this sort of thing NOW. It's just as much one's responsibility to stay on track and properly represent the discipline as it is everyone else's. If you can't do that, then don't call it parkour or freerunning, because it wouldn't be those things.

I don't hate indoor training. I have no problem with gyms. As I said to you in my comment on Facebook about this, indoor gyms are an unfortunate necessity in our country that is so concerned about liability and lawsuits. What I DON'T like is the fancy gyms that are set up in order to make money, to satisfy investors, to sell products and use the money to make bigger videos filled with even more tricks and to sell more products. This is not parkour or freerunning; there is no spirit in doing these things.

I teach in gyms, too. I don't own a gym, let alone a parkour-specific gym, but I have my equipment and it's used indoors just like yours (except where it can be used outdoors at one of the gyms). "Don't judge based on what you think you've seen on YouTube" - if that's the only thing you've given us to go by, then that is your fault, not ours. I have spent the past 12 years in poverty and I can't always afford to go places. If you don't want us to judge you based on what you put out there, then don't put it out there...

I don't want there to be bad blood between us. I really liked the time we got to spend together at the Ninja Warrior event. But I don't appreciate the way you turned this around and pointed the blame at me/us. I noticed that when you posted this on Facebook you said you tend to write without thinking first, so I'm hoping some of it was just that! Or maybe my writing was not well-enough written to avoid this misunderstanding, too.

To finish this off, I don't have a problem with what you do or how you do it. It's your life, after all. But for people to take something that is defined as a discipline and make it something entirely different (or even with completely opposite goal) and to taint it to the point that the original values are almost unknown or non-existent, is not right. Call it something else if you want to do it differently (that is not directed specifically at you, but to everyone who has that opposite goal).

Thank you for responding!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Very Important Discussion

"Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES." That's what was echoing through my mind while reading this quick little blog recently published by Stephane Vigroux (one of the first practitioners of parkour):

Unfortunately, I doubt that very many will truly understand the meaning of what he is telling us here. Even fewer will actually do something about it or speak up.

I've had a HUGE problem with the way "parkour" has been growing here in the USA. It has been TERRIBLY misrepresented, abused, and the spirit of the discipline is non-existent in so many "parkour communities" and events like Red Bull's "Art of Motion". This problem I have had with the way the discipline is being misrepresented is exactly the reason that I am thinking about changing the name of Parkour Ways to something that doesn't use the word "parkour" in it. These newer groups, younger kids and the media are all ruining what parkour once was.

Competitions have no place in this discipline.

Parkour is not a way to show off (and neither is freerunning).

Parkour is not a means to defy laws or to be anti-social in any way.

Parkour is not about taking risks just for the sake of taking risks or to impress others.

Parkour is definitely not a way of getting more "likes" with a damn YouTube channel, no matter how good you are at making videos or doing "tricks" or "stunts".

Parkour is not about starting a fancy gym to make money (and a fancier gym doesn't make your "team" better, either).

Parkour is not about "teams" or pointless sponsorship for monetary or materialistic gain.

The reasons that I do not "do a flip" for you when you ask are:

1. I'm not a dog trained to do tricks for you on command.
2. Because I don't care about flips much at all.

I do not train flips, teach flips, or plan to teach flips any time in the near future because the word "parkour" has lost so much of its meaning that it is appalling to me.

Parkour has become a JOKE in this country. "Hardcore parkour!" is insulting and as much as I loved The Office, I hate what they did to the name with that episode. People refer to parkour as an "extreme sport". It is NOT extreme and it is NOT a sport.

I leave you with a quote from the aforementioned blog:

I've had a lot of time to observe it growing and evolving, and I came to the conclusion, and I can honestly say today, that the Redbullion crowd (a term coined by Sebastien Foucan to describe the virus that is diluting our movement) and those looking to show off are NOT doing parkour! They are NOT training the same discipline that we created in France all those years ago.

UPDATE: My response to a response to this blog -

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Financial Hardships

FINANCIAL HARDSHIP: It has been a big part of my life and it is something I have come to understand well. I want my classes and services to be available to anyone who may need them. Art du déplacement can CHANGE LIVES and that's exactly what I'm setting out to do with my teaching, with Parkour Ways.

To all current, prospective, and future students: if you're in a state of financial hardship, feel free to reach out to me and I will work with you. I teach this for a LIVING, not to make MONEY. I'm not in the business of ripping people off or getting rich. I want to help others.

You can send me an email to to inquire about this. Please be honest about your situation and what you can afford, as I too am in a state of financial hardship and have been for the past 12 years.