I know it’s been a while since my last blog post…I’ve been busy actually training (surprise!) and working on a really big project with some of my closest friends that’s set for public release in the next week or two 🙂 So I haven’t felt inspired to post anything up here until today. I’m sure most of you have already seen Adam Dunlap’s new post about parkour training that’s been going around teh Interwebz like wildfire (if you haven’t, you can read it here: http://www.adamdunlap.com/blog/the-four-concepts-that-the-parkour-community-doesnt-understand-about-parkour/).
I had planned on writing one of these blog responses to Blane’s ‘A Call to Arms’ post a few months ago, but a lot of experienced people kind of trashed that immediately and I also really respect Blane as a person and athlete so I felt it wasn’t necessary…so here we go, this is what I thought reading Adam Dunlap’s most recent blog post 🙂
First of all, I went into this keeping in mind the fact that he is a businessman. Based on his previous posts, I’d developed the opinion that he’s either incredibly stupid or incredibly clever in his approach to marketing his brand/product. After reading this I’m heavily inclined to believe the latter. Note that his blog is on a personal website (which he is making money from) and that it links to loads of other websites for clothing/parkour information that he owns and is also making money from. This money depends on how much traffic these websites get. More traffic = more money. It’s hard for a parkour clothing company that isn’t based on a team to stay in the public eye for very long…Adam has done a remarkably good job of developing his brand so that it stays relevant on all the social platforms, etc. that will help ensure future success. These blog posts are (at least in part) just another way to keep Take Flight and Adam Dunlap “current.” In a way, it’s a lot like the sensationalist tabloids you see at the grocery. The more outrageous the claims, the more intriguing the product. That’s how newspapers selling stories like “Elvis and Sasquatch Rub Backs and Bums in Vegas Casino Hot Tub” manage to stay in business. Shock value. This last article, in my opinion, is no different.
Those are just my thoughts on the article before I even read it (and yes, I realize that by responding to it I’m giving in to his system and helping to promote his poor product…but I’d rather clear the air than keep my mouth shut because I’m a belligerent New Yorker when it comes to arguing :P). Now for the article itself. His two “disclaimers” stood out to me right away. Mainly because I read (a) as saying something along the lines of “You can’t judge me on this because I’m telling you this isn’t complete (even though it probably is, otherwise I’d be posting something else)” and read (b) as “I’m not saying this is what parkour IS…just like I’m not saying David Belle is parkour’s patron deity and the one and only way to ‘true parkour’…oh wait…” It’s basically like saying “no offense but…” in textual format. You know the person is about to say something offensive to you that they CLEARLY KNOW is offensive but don’t want to deal with any crap for it.
Funny thing is, his first three points I largely agree with once a few adjustments/clarifications are made. I don’t think parkour is about the techniques…animals get away with doing parkour for years not knowing any specific “techniques.” A huge part of training is adapting to the different circumstances that can pop up and it happens pretty often that no set move will work. So we make it up as we go along, no big deal 🙂 Does that mean we should throw out “technique,” the stuff that keeps us safe and healthy? Of course not. I don’t think Dunlap was actually saying we should ignore how we land/takeoff/etc. but that’s how people have interpreted it so I felt that should be addressed as well.
On to the second point…”parkours.” If you’re training parkour with the mindset of reach/escape, I can see how this would make seem to make sense. But even with this mindset in place, if you’re in a situation where you need to run from or catch up to someone and you don’t do it in the first 100m you’re probably going to be royally f*cked. I’d say sprints are far more helpful to the reach/escape ideology than any sort of long obstacle course. Why wait 3 miles when you can accomplish your goal in 10 or 11 seconds? And here, actual parkour techniques again will be the most useful things in helping you evade/catch someone besides having a manly cheetah sprint. That’s why they were developed…because they were proven to be the most useful movements in those sorts of situations. So why claim to train the “true, original parkour” but ignore the fundamental movements that were created for its purpose? Seems like a contradiction (or at least some kind of silly training regression) to me.
Point number three…this is the one I agree with the most, although if you think you can get to your maximum level of movement in two years you’re an absolute nutter. I think there is a certain point that people get to where they’ve physically and mentally approximated their maximum potential in parkour. I think people like Ilabaca and Oleg (people that have drifted away from the scene over the past few years) would be good examples. Can they still progress in certain areas? Sure, but if you go out and just do every single jump you see and know is possible it can take away a big part of the fun. So you don’t really have any reason to progress because you’re not enjoying it as much as you used to and you don’t have anyone at your level to help push you. The human body can only do so much, so when your mind finally catches up I think there can come a time where you have to take a step back from training and either quit, do it purely for enjoyment and not progression, or try and take your training in a whole new direction. If I ever get that far, I hope I take the third path because I know I enjoy doing this stuff way too much to step away from it and I love seeing myself get better haha 🙂
Now for the point that has probably pushed the most buttons…Dunlap’s “warrior spirit.” Toward the end, he defines his idea of the “warrior spirit” as “push[ing] yourself to the limit physically and mentally until you feel like you’re going to break. And then keep going.” This is the only part of his blog that has me convinced Dunlap is actually just massively ignorant about training and what goes on in the worldwide community. I honestly don’t understand how he can even think to claim there aren’t thousands of people out there pushing themselves to their “limit physically and mentally” and then trying to go beyond. I know I try and do this every single time I go out training. So do my closest friends and training partners. Are we unique in this respect? I doubt it. Look at Kie Willis’ “Letters From the Sky” video or the stuff that Storror puts out on a regular basis. Look at the way Jason Paul and Pasha with Farang are pushing the limits of creativity in parkour and essentially forming a whole new method of movement. To hear Adam Dunlap, who I’ve never met or trained with or even seen do anything on film, claim that he’s one of a handful in the world “doing it right” is incredibly naïve and downright insulting. Even if you’re the best in the world physically, I think having that kind of elitist mindset shows you have miles and miles of mental/spiritual progression to get through.
What is a “warrior spirit?” If we’re setting out to copy David Belle, then let’s follow his routine to the letter…let’s go out and train for a few hours, come home to our mother’s house and smoke a bunch of weed with friends until we’re high off our asses. That doesn’t look like what Dunlap is claiming he’s suddenly “found” in France while training with David, at least not to me. Why are the kids out there (the same kids who are probably buying all of his shitty designs) that train 4 or 5 hours a day and go home and dream about training tomorrow and breaking a new jump any further from this “warrior spirit” than Dunlap himself?
I guess it all comes down to what a warrior is. Is a true warrior someone who makes his weapon his life? Is it someone who ignores anything and everything outside of his discipline to become a master of what he does? Or is a warrior the man who recognizes value in other things, strives to become well-rounded, and expresses the love of his art constantly through his words and actions? The true warrior spirit isn’t buried somewhere in the walls of Lisses, it’s found in the hearts of all the girls out there trying to learn parkour with no one to help or support them except a few sketchy teenagers trying to cop a feel every time they “spot” her for a jump. It’s about all the kids out there who are training and surpassing their teachers and finding out that all their heroes are actually just people and far from perfect, but keep training anyway. It’s hard to say this, but I think the community is closer to achieving a “warrior spirit” now than at any point in the past. And the way to ensure that progression continues isn’t by clinging to contradictory pseudo-philosophies that an 18-year old kid made up in France a few years ago while he was high with some buddies. It’s by going out and being involved in the community at a grassroots level…getting to know all the new people that are finding out about parkour for the first time. And maybe I’m the only one who thinks so, but if so I’ll still stick to my guns 🙂 Good luck finding your warrior spirit…but I hope you try and do so by getting out and being involved through training, playing, and constantly learning from everyone around you!