Thursday, September 27, 2007

What I learned at NYPK

I wrote this on the train leaving hardcoretraceur's house at 4:45 in the morning the Monday after NYPK. Some of these are inside jokes/references, others are more universal:

What I learned at NYPK
-Why hardcoretraceur is so hardcore. Or at least stupid. (The shoulder/dragging thing)
-Why 3-day jams are both a horrible, and fantastic, idea.
-No matter how perfectly things are planned, and how many redundancies are in place, things will still get screwed up. Tough luck. Figure it out and keep on moving.
-Accidents and pain happen: It is how one responds to these that matters.
-'Nam was "crappy." (Crazy vet on the light rail)
-"Don't get high, go do something." (Crazy vet again)
-There is something to be learned from _everyone_, regardless of skill, politics, or path.
-Be strong to be useful.
-Running with the pack is better than staying with the flock.
-Make no excuses not to train to your limit.
-In order to break the apple, you must first break yourself.
-Pyro's shoulder looks like Ravioli. It isn't supposed to, however.
-What you put in is what you get out.
-When discussing which is worse, slavery or the Holocaust, check for cameras.
-With a positive mind, one can have an iron will.
-There is always something you can train.
-Anyone who suffers from friends who don't support their love for parkour, but train anyway, deserves some serious respect.
-Drama, while it should have been left at High School, often isn't.
-Try to leave Drama in high school anyway.
-Stop talking and move.
-And my last quote, which I've decided is my new personal motto: Once you hit rock bottom, start chiselling.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The place of "Go Big or Go Home" in Parkour.

In short, there is no place for the extreme sports "Go Big or Go Home" attitude in Parkour.

When I started "parkour," (i put that in quotes because of the following) I really didn't know what it was all about. I just saw the techniques, I saw the videos, and I went out and did some really stupid stuff that could have seriously injured me. For a little while (and really, a VERY little while) the group I train with were all about "Go big or go home."

I realized, pretty quickly (thankfully), that this was not what parkour was about. It isn't "Go big or go home." It isn't the X-Games. It's not about "jumping off of s%@*." I was damn lucky I didn't break both my legs. As it is, I bashed my hip on a screwed up precision (though that wasn't a "go big" thing, it was just sandy and I didn't check my surfaces (ANOTHER lesson learned)), and to this day a year and a half later, it still gets sore if I lay on it for too long.

Don't trust me on this. Don't blindly take my word for truth, or lies. Read. Read the articles stickied on the .Net forums. Read the articles on APK. Read the articles on NYPK, Colorado PK, any of the other matured community sites (meaning not Read and THINK about it, ponder it, meditate on it - whatever on it - until you realize WHY parkour is not about "go big or go home."

I think too quickly seasoned traceurs tell new people that big drops aren't what it's all about, but they don't give any reasons (other than the obvious health/safety reasons which a lot of people apparently don't care about.)

In a thread I was reading recently, a new guy was saying he was drilling 10 foot drops - great. Now you know you can do it if you have to. What's the point in doing something THAT risky over and over and over again until you get hurt?

A traceur named Hardcoretraceur, whom I really respect, said something at the NYPK07 jam: Someone pointed to a roof and said "Could you jump from that?"
He replied "Yes, but I don't want to."
Hardcoretraceur believes, and I agree with him, that the best way to train for drops is to do drops. Which means while squats and pistols and whatever else helps condition the legs, nothing conditions them for drops like doing drops. But he, and I, want to be doing parkour when we're 30. 40. 50. We value our knees, so we stay ground-level. There's no reason to practice jumping off of buildings. If you ever need to, if you train hard enough with low drops, you'll probably be able to make a few big drops without a problem. But if you train a ton of high drops, the damage you're doing is going to prevent you from doing ANYTHING pretty quickly.

So please, anyone who is still of the "Go big or go home" attitude: Don't change because I tell you to. Or because M2 tells you to, or Sebastian, or eZ, or David Belle. But do LISTEN to us. Take our advice. The advice of people who have been in your position. And then do your own reading, your own thinking, and keep searching until you find the path to the same conclusion we found.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007


I have found that improvising is a critical part of the college experience. Whether it's improvising on a paper you're writing, or improvising an excuse on the spot when you've been discovered somewhere you very shouldn't be, thinking on your feet is a very important skill to have.

My two latest improvisations come more in the form of lacking something, and having to make up for it. The first instance was when I ran out of bread.
Improvisation #1!

The second instance, which happened today, occured when I was unable to find my razor blade:
Improvisation #2!

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Zackie Chan, Bruce Leo, and Matt Damon walk into a bar

Parkour was good today. The group is quite impressive, really.

Today (9.22.07):
*Worked on wall passes. People are getting much better, but most people are still using their elbows.
*Introduced people to a wider variety of vaults. Taught people kongs and speed vaults, then demonstrated dashes, double kongs, dive kongs, among a few others. A surprising amount of people got the kong down today. And most of the people who didn't will have it next time, I'm sure.
*Did some simple precisions onto a rock, demonstrated how to properly come down on an obstacle, especially if it isn't nice and flat (like a rock.. isn't.)
*Moved onto the gates. I did a short demo of how techniques can be strung together. I was hoping to get a turn vault to underbar down, but it was too high for a decent turnvault. People drilled underbars, prepping them for later underbar practice.
*Precisions onto the stairs. 
*Practiced some aerials and one handed cartwheels. I ended up doing some sort of bastardized one handed front handspring roundoff.
*We lost a few people here, but then gained a few people. We headed down to the SLC and worked on some taller wall passes, and then it got interesting. Hit the jump, as they say, for more details.
*We drilled underbars next, hard. We went to the Bookstore, where they have a slanted double rail. I was working on increasing the height on my jump to underbar, and I discovered I need to work on my reverse underbar, because I can't figure out how to come out of it without a broken spine.
*We finished up with precisions and rolls at the Kodak quad. I didn't work on my max-distance precision, just a few shorter ones. I tried a running precision, but couldn't get the... precise.. part down. Kept overshooting.

Okay. Now for the story. So as we were training at the (second) wall pass spot, I had noticed a lot of security across the field. (They were setting up/getting ready for a concert tonight) As we began to walk away, I noticed a security guard on an intercept course. I led the group and we kept on walking, when he called out "Hey guys, can I talk with you for a sec." I looked over at him, and pleasantly as I could (while I was thinking "crap crap crap") said "Sure, no problem."

Basically, he gave the usual, albiet humourous, speech about if we start climbing, and then smash our face in and lose all our teeth, not ONLY will the girls not find 
us attractive anymore, but he'll have to call and explain what happened to our mothers. He then asked us what we were doing. I briefly explained parkour (kind of like obstacle coursing, except using just whatever is around. People walk up and see a wall that they have to go around, we see an obstacle to move over.), and said that while I totally understand your reluctance, we didn't just start with this. We started with much smaller walls, and we practiced safe ways to land and fall, and basically that training safely is paramount. After I reiterated this in several different ways, and pointed out that I was just teaching several people the proper way to land, he kind of nodded and I think he understood. He then said, "Alright well.. just be safe." and then I introduced myself, he introduced himself, and we parted on good terms.

I'm actually planning on emailing him and thanking him for his understanding, and then inviting him and a few other members of campus safety out to see what we do. I think this is the best course of action. I'm hoping it will show that we're safe and responsible enough to alert them to what is going on, and what we're doing, and perhaps even let them participate, if they want.

I think the funniest part of the whole thing was when he was semi-lecturing us, and he was telling us to "think outside the box" (i suppose in terms of safety/what other people are responsible for). I just giggled (silently, to myself) and thought about how we actually WERE thinking outside the box.

More details to come in the saga of Campus Safety and RIT Parkour.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Episode VI: Return of the Zac-i

Today was great. Woke up a bit late, which wasn't so good, but from there I went slacklining, took a calc test, then went to Taekwondo. Donning my sparring gear once more (first time in ~3 months) was a near religious experience. Had 5 matches, 2 against white belts, 1 red belt, and two black belts. I was very impressed with (everyone, but especially) the black belts. Looks like there's going to be some seriously kickass sparring matches this year. I've lost a bit of my speed and flexibility, but I think I mostly just need to knock the rust off of me and I'll be back in the groove.

Invented a new "takedown" today... accidentally. As one of the 
blackbelts was coming up for a roundhouse to the head, I was  doing a spinning hook kick. My leg wrapped around his, and my spinning inertia took us to the ground. We both rolled away and got up quickly, but it was very interesting. And then the other blackbelt match was one of the best matches I've ever had. We were both tired, we had 30 seconds, and we were both going 110%.  I quoted Casablanca, "... I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Definitely good times.

Headed to the Commons for food (Food is always good) and we were trying to explain parkour to someone. Then I saw a gate I had passed at least 4 times a day, every day, all of last year. I saw it with new eyes, and yelled "Impromptu demonstration!" That's my new favorite spot on campus. It's these two trapezoidal shaped gates that are chained together in the middle, so cars can't drive past them. Except it's fantastic for kongs, side vaults, underbars, kong/turn vaults to underbars,  QM, and so much else. Definitely going to be there.. a lot.

Then food. Then as I was riding my bike out, I saw the same group of people a bit infront of me (a bunch of these people are coming to my new weekly (or more often) Parkour jams) jumping onto a random rock on the grass. So then I decided to test out my hand (cast had just come off). Lets just say I felt exquisite. I found a picnic table, and was demonstrating kongs, dive
 kongs, speed vaults, dashes, precisions, and anything else I could think of. 

It felt so good to be back in the game. Tomorrow (first 'weekly' 
jam without my cast) is going to be so awesome. Expect a post about it.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

A broken hand doesn't stop me from training! It severely limits what I can do, yes, but stop me? Never.

Went on a run with Artem today. It turned into a parkour session. And then we went to a cookout/BBQ in the woods. Ended up taking 5 hours... So much for that calculus test.

Tomorrow I get to spar for the first time (officially...) since I broke my hand. The plan is pretty much to fight anyone and everyone who brings gear to Taekwondo Club. I can't wait.

Third parkour jam on Saturday. Thinking about also holding them Sundays, for the people who can't make them on Saturday. Also because I'm an addict.

Ooh, my buildering ride is here. Have to go.
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