Try steeper

“The obstacle is the way” is not a phrase from Art du Déplacement. It’s a two-thousand-year-old comment from a Stoic (writing in a personal journal to himself.) In a similar vein, he also wrote that, “nature turns all things to its own purpose.” Likewise the more modern “Rust never sleeps,” is equally pithy.

The real lesson is of course that there’s a season for everything. Sometimes more challenge is the key to progress, and sometimes simply being is the key. (Which is also something thoroughly covered in the Stoic philosophy. And please: Stoicism is not at all about suppressing one’s feelings.) I think I learned that seasons lesson early on from bicycling. I’m from Pennsylvania, from an area of rolling, often wooded, hills. Every bike ride ever was an endless repetition of “down a hill, ’round a corner, up a hill, round a corner, down a hill, …” In a very real sense, all parts of that were equally fun.

In a comfortable, prosperous country like ours, some of the built in tendencies of Human nature tend to work against us, saying, “Hey – I’ve noticed we have plenty of food and reasonable shelter and that’s good enough. So let’s just double down on the Netflix, comfort foods, and occasional luxury purchases and that will keep us safe.” Instead, I want you to set your life treadmill to just a bit of a steeper, healthier incline setting.

~ Peter Adeney from,

I’d like to mention that “Culdesac” in that linked URL is a town’s name; You can go read that article either for the life advice, or to learn about one of several towns in the U.S. now which are being built as people-first. (As opposed to basically every other town and city which is built as cars-first.)


People first

People who become engaged with movement in the found environment develop a new way of seeing their environment. Well, t e c h n i c a l l y , they recover a way of seeing their environment which they lost. Mountains, hills, water, stairs… and the moats that criss-cross our communities where the big metal and plastic boxes whiz along— these all become “challenging.” Walls (of various heights from knee to enormous), railings, painted lines— these all become “challenging.” And yet, I’ve had the pleasure on countless occasions to stumble into a built space which feels different. Spaces which don’t require me to see differently. Spaces which beckon me to sit, stand, move, climb, and play.

That we immediately switch to building our cities and countries around people, instead of cars.

~ Peter Adeney from,

Cars (small trucks, commercial trucks, planes, trains and ships) are tools. As I’ve said before what really matters about tools is one’s thinking and choices about tools. What I rarely hear mentioned is that tool choices also affect us. Our use of tools changes us. That’s what I really care about. How am I enabled (to do other things, to live more fully, etc), or constrained, by my choices with respect to tools? Furthermore, how do my choices enable or constrain those close to me? …in my community? …country? …world?



I’ve been stumbling more over graphic depictions and graphic novels. There’s this fun book Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel which describes the storytelling secrets of the new masters of radio. I’ve read another graphic novel about finance and the visual element really brings the stories to life. (See Craig learn, sorry.) In hindsight, I don’t understand at all why this would have surprised me. I spent gobs of time reading comics like Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County in book form and they’re graphic novels if you read the entire arc in one go.

Our thoughts are a composite process. We really do think with our entire bodies.

~ Alex Pavlotski from,

Pavlotski is another example. I had a wonderful conversation, Ethnography, leadership, and trajectory, with him for the Movers Mindset podcast. He is probably best-known for his work visualizing Parkour, but there’s much more to his work than just the drawing portion. This is not just a guy who does parkour, who also happens to draw kewl cartoons.


Physical literacy

I’ve been creating and capturing conversations for the Movers Mindset podcast for over 5 years. In the beginning the people and the content were directly related to Parkour. But it soon became apparent that there was something more. (Actually, it became apparently that there are two somethings. My general love for the art of conversation is one something. But here, I’m just talking about the other something.) Over the years, the podcast name and descriptions shifted to center on the word “movement” as I tried to point at the something more that I couldn’t identify.


Physical literacy is often described as the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding that provides human beings with the movement foundation for lifelong participation in physical activity. Importantly, it incorporates elements that are beyond mere physical development, such as motivation and confidence to move, and ranks them just as highly as attributes like strength and speed. Anyone who trains in parkour for even a single session soon understands just how fundamental these non-physical elements are to our natural movement capabilities, and our potential.

~ Dan Edwardes from,

I’ve been saying for years that in the Movers Mindset podcast, “I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do, and why they do it.” People often ask me, “what’s the podcast about?” and I’ve always felt that my description doesn’t quite explain it.

But now I know what it’s about.

This article has given me a new phrase: Physical literacy. Thanks, Dan. This isn’t the first thing you’ve given me. (Dan joined me on the podcast back in 2019 for a wonderful in-person conversation titled, Dan Edwardes: Motivation, efficacy, and storytelling.)


45 days until Level 52

(Part 1 of 46 in series, Level 52 countdown)

The idea is to post here every day to report that I did what I was supposed to do. I’ll include what I plan to do for the next day’s activity. That forces me to plan ahead a bit. That’s the magic sauce because when I fail to plan, I fail.

This is not going to be a 45-day sprint of insane challenges. The idea is to be disciplined. Each day, plan something that is appropriate for me to do.

This post also presents a gallery of the ALL images in this series of posts. The gallery is dynamic so it will automatically grow as I add more posts to this series.

Movers Mindset’s purpose

Back in 2018 I traveled to an event at Gerlev in Denmark. I gave a brief presentation one morning explaining the Movers Mindset podcast. The other day, I stumbled over my notes, and felt this was worth a fresh posting.

When we move through the world we can move in an ordinary or an extraordinary way. Ordinary movement is easy; it follows established paths; and it is boring. Extraordinary movement requires excellence, knowledge, and independence. When I talk about movement, I am talking about extraordinary movement because it is much more interesting. Movement—whether that is Parkour, ADD, Freerunning—is a celebration of freedom in the context of an unforgiving reality that cannot be ignored.

These ideas form the foundation of movement: Pay attention to reality, learn as much as you can and practice. With parkour–as with just about everything in this world–the true beauty of the practice can be fully appreciated only by taking a deeper dive into it. This means we have to understand not just the physical aspects of movement but the mental and philosophical basis for movement.

As a mastery discipline—something that can be practiced for a lifetime with continued improvement—movement focuses more on the journey than the destination. Understanding the values, interests, and challenges in the minds of the best practitioners is the best way of showing the path of movement in a meaningful and accessible way. Our podcast, with its audio format and transcripts, naturally emphasizes the mental and psychological aspects of movement.

The podcast brings out the more intellectual elements of movement. My goal is to emphasize the value that movement and movers create and develop through their practice. In pushing the limits of human potential, movers demonstrate objectively that such achievements are possible. Since the physical aspects of practice can be directly observed through images and videos, the visible part is already well covered. But I believe the mental aspect is where the real magic happens, and it is less well covered because it is not spectacular. Video will grab your attention, excite you and may even get you to try some new things, but to get really good at movement you need a deep understanding.

When you listen to the podcasts, I hope you will notice a distinct difference in our approach. Our goal is always to show the guest in the best possible light. We aim to illuminate and showcase their values, ideas, and principles in a way that makes them accessible and relevant to the listener while showing the proper respect for their achievements. Each interview is a collaborative effort with that guest. Our shared goal is to clearly communicate ideas that will be useful to each listener in the context of their personal journey of exploration.

Yogis, martial artists and chess masters often describe how much they’ve learned about life from in-depth practice and mastery in their disciplines. We hear similar sentiments from musicians, sculptors, painters, hunters, and chefs. Movement as a mastery discipline is no different. A big part of its value comes from the lessons it teaches us about life and reality. Knowing your own strengths and limitations is critical. Reality is unforgiving. Physics always works and is important. You cannot fake competence. Courage is required to overcome self-imposed limitations. The list of lessons is limited only by our ability to think and to understand movement.

I am passionate about creating and promoting rational discussion. I am passionate about sharing others’ stories, wisdom, insights, accomplishments, goals, visions and delusions. Describing and illuminating the ideas behind extraordinary movement and human exceptionalism can help us all to improve our experience and appreciate the richness and beauty of life.


A form of movement

If you do not have a movement practice or access to a good movement teacher, then finding a physical practice that you enjoy and makes you feel empowered is a good place to start.

~ Soisci Porchetta from,

You already love moving, (or nothing I write is going to convince you.) The only question then is where are you in your journey? Are you in the age of roots, fire, water or air? It’s very important to realize there are going to be major transitions in one’s journey through life. I consider myself typical in that movement played a huge role when I was young. There was a significant period in my 30’s where I lost the plot. I was lucky that I didn’t lose touch with movement for too long. Looking back from 20 years on, I believe that I was trying to hold onto an identity.

At the time, what I was doing was a big part of who I saw myself as. I didn’t understand that who I am, was going to change—is supposed to change! Naive, I denied the feelings which were suggesting I change. As I said, it turns out I was lucky.

As is often the case: No takeaway. Just food for thought.



The issue with play structures is that they train you to play only within affordances. When the space that you play in is designed by someone else, you are pushed towards playing only in the ways that they envisioned. A play structure affords a small set of actions, and as a player, you only get to pick which one you prefer. There’s no invention in that, no spontaneity, no creativity.

Let’s think about how this applies to adults. If you show an adult a library of video games, they can pick one and click the “play” button. But show an adult a meadow with trees to climb and grass to roll around in, and they will write it off as unplayable (unless they are with friends, and typically playing a standard game with standard rules).

~ Alex Hollow from,

Understanding this (if you don’t already) will bend your mind, in a good way. People who understand what Art du Déplacement is, talk about developing a new kind of “vision”. It’s hard to describe what this new vision is—perhaps I can say, it’s like seeing motion… or, where normal vision can induce a mood, this new kind of vision can suggest a movement. I went to a show recently, and sitting in the balcony before the house lights went down, my wife and I had a completely serious discussion of “how do you get down from here [without using the obvious stairs]?” At other times we stop to play on things. I regularly walk along curbs and swing from things I find overhead.

It’s not that things lack affordances. No, there are affordances everywhere… in, on, around, under, throughout every object natural and man-made. If you lose—as it seems everyone does as they‘re forced grow into adulthood—your vision for playing, only then does it appear that affordances are missing.



The situation is even worse if you have no designs on getting ripped and instead just want to build a baseline of capability, whether that’s for hoisting your toddler, shaking off the stiffness of a desk job, or living independently as you age.

~ Amanda Mull from,

Back in 2011 or so, when I stumbled into parkour and Art du Déplacement, it was a weekly opportunity for movement and play. There was no goal. There was no larger point to anything that we were doing. We weren’t trying to get ripped or beat our best time running or win at anything in particular. It was simply a merry band of people getting together to play and move, and it was challenging and fun. I (and everyone else) had good days and bad days. We laughed a lot, sometimes someone cried and not too frequently there was just enough blood to demonstrate we were serious. We each faced our fears. We pushed our boundaries and were challenged and supported (figuratively and literally) at the same time. I had never experienced anything like it. Countless times I’ve had similar experiences now—no two days are exactly alike, of course—and it always surprises me just how special it can be to move and play with like-minded people.

If I’m being honest, it’s very rare that I get those experiences these days. Once a month, if I’m lucky, is about the rate. Perhaps. And just this morning we were talking about making some fresh space in our not-actually-really-that-busy lives— a bit of prioritization as it were. I should definitely follow through with that.


Rediscovering movement

Play is a big part of our lives as children, but why do we lose our playfulness as we age? I talk a lot about the emotional and physical aspects of play, especially regarding Positive Ageing and aspects of Parkour. So many people feel like play is out of reach as they approach midlife, even though it’s an innate part of you.

~ Julie Angel from,

Angel doesn’t write often, but when she does it’s something nice like this. I just want to say that physical movement and play are inseparable—without the former, you’re not really doing the later.

Or, perhaps I just want to say two things; That first thing, and that Angel is the film–maker who created my favorite video to share when people ask me, “what is parkour?” Movement of Three.

Actually, I want to share three things: Those two things, and Julie if you’re reading: OMG the cannoli!


Au delà du saut

Nous abordons toutes les dimensions de la pratique depuis l’histoire jusqu’au flow, en passant par les entrainements physiques, la technique, le mental, les valeurs … Tout ce qui vous permettra de mieux comprendre et ressentir le mouvement pour pouvoir aller plus loin.

~ Stany Boulifard Mallet from,

I’m really excited about this. Two friends of mine, after very much work over several years, have finished a book. It’s in French (there’s discussion of doing an English version next) and available as a digital file if you’re not in France. Two things…

I had a conversation with Stany Boulifard Mallet (one of the authors) back in 2018.

And if you just thought, “lart du depla-what?!” and you’re the curious type, see my Art du Déplacement tag for my blog posts related to this beautiful movement community and its French roots.


Coaching through play

This blog deals specifically with the games based aspect of coaching. I recommend using a model of explicitly teaching skills and then combining this with purposeful practice drills. With primary school children, that almost invariably means playing games.

~ John ‘Hedge’ Hall from,

I often mention parkour, FreeRunning, and Art du Déplacement and I just wanted to take a moment to mention that there are a ton of people (myself not included) who take teaching it very seriously. If you’ve ever wondered how it’s taught— well, here you go.


Bonding through movement

Today, a growing percentage of people find themselves alienated from any particular community, without strong bonds to any discernible group. Loneliness is on the rise. More people live alone, remain single or childless, move to new geographical locations on a regular basis, and otherwise fail to develop close ties. This is a shift that is unprecedented in human history.

~ Shane Parrish from,

My pull-quote feels pretty obvious. What’s interesting is where Parrish goes in this article. There’s a lot of research and discussion around what happens to us—mentally and physically—when we move together. It’s not simply, “hey that was fun.” There’s a durable bonding that happens when humans move together.


There may be something to this

Research now demonstrates that neuronal sensory integration actually happens much earlier in the sensory processing pathway and is actually optimized or heightened with multi-sensory stimulation, or what we call sensory stacking.

Sensory stacking is to bring in as many sensory input systems during an exercise or movement for the purpose of enhancing cortical stimulation and neuronal pathways.

~ Emily Splichal from,

Our entire schtick—whether you self-identify with Art du Déplacement, Parkour or Freerunning, or whatever—is moving in a visually complex environment. That turns out to have a physiological, brain altering affect.


Quantitative versus qualitative

That is how we are still conditioned socially as adults: Do, achieve, produce results, instead of be, feel, enjoy the process. Quantitative over qualitative. We are obsessed by performance and “tangible” results. But that is one of the great teachings of Parkour and ADD: That the path is just as enjoyable as the destination; That sometimes it is even more important, and that oftentimes it is the destination.

~ Vincent Thibault



One can’t learn something new without first admitting one’s ignorance. No matter how great a tea is, none can be poured into a cup that is full of water or turned upside down. There is no trying without being ready to fail. […] Some people, out of pride, exclusively want to achieve; Some others are willing to learn. Guess who gets most done in the long run?

~ Vincent Thibault


Opportunity in adversity

One of the most important factors, are we to be happy and whole human beings, is our ability to see opportunities in adversities. That is one of the most powerful lessons in Parkour and ADD: Learning, whenever needed, to thrive on obstacles. Our discipline indeed tells us of the fundamental difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. The former believes, “I am bad at this,” the latter proposes, “I am better than this; I can learn something.”

~ Vincent Thibault