Be kind to yourself

I just finished listening to an interview with Stephane Vigroux (see, 123, and 4) and one of his take-aways—the point he ended with actually—was that your parkour practice should make you happy. If I may unpack a bit: That you should be kind to yourself.

Stephane teaches a drill which has many variations, but is roughly to spend 30 minutes balancing on a rail. One finds something reasonable to balance on, like a simple railing or a low bar, where falling off has no consequences and where it’s easy to re-mount. When balancing, simply stand as still as you can. Switch legs and positions as you need to, but mostly, simply stand still and balance. If you fall off, simply get back on, and be kind to yourself for the duration.

Go do this drill. Seriously. If you cannot balance on a railing, scale the challenge down to fit your ability; Find a narrow wall, a curb, something the size of a shoebox, a bench—whatever, and alternate balancing on one foot at a time.

I’ve had the chance to train with Stephane a few times. Once, in Évry France (right in front of the Cathedral) a large group was being led by Williams Belle through a long sequence of ground movements. I had arrived at the event from another week-long event, in the middle of a summer after I had recently given up a year-long physical challenge that had my left shoulder with an aching weakness. It was only mid-morning and I was grinding my way through the physical training. There was a tremendous group spirit of support and encouragement, with everyone—absolutely everyone being pushed to their own personal limits. There was shouting and cheering and a good bit of laughing.

I could have continued. It’s possible that every other time I had ever done physical training I did continue. I had struggled through the, “this hurts I want to quit,” rationalization much earlier that morning. But for some reason, at some random moment, I stood up and walked off to the side where I sat down on an outdoor chair in the shade. At that moment, it felt right to choose to be kind to myself rather than persevere.

After a few minutes, Stephane also stopped, walked over, sat down in a neighboring chair, and asked how I was doing. It wasn’t an, “are you injured, why have you stopped?” visit. Just a friend dropping by to see how I was feeling.

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Vital inward loosening

Martial art is not merely the physical act of filling time and space with precision-like movements. Machines can do that, too. As he matures, a martial artist will realize that his kick or punch is really not so much a tool to conquer his opponent, but a tool to explode through his consciousness, his ego, and all mental obstacles. Indeed, the tools are ultimately a means for penetrating the depth of his being so that he will restore the equilibrium of his inner center of gravity. With this vital inward loosening flows his outward expression of his tools. Behind each physical movement of an accomplished martial artist is this wholeness of being, this all-inclusive attitude.

~ Bruce Lee, from Lee’s typed essay entitled “Jeet Kune Do—Toward Personal Liberation,” circa 1971. ( With a hat-tip to the book, “Bruce Lee: Artist of Life” by J Little, 1999, recommended to me by S Foucan. )

Apparently, there’s nothing new under the sun. This sentiment fits perfectly with my concept of what my Art du Déplacement practice is. In some respects my ten-year-ago self is an unrecognizably different person. I’m only able to remember and reconcile who that person was thanks to my journals. There are many threads to the story of that decade. But if I had to point to one thread, I’d point to my practice, and I wouldn’t disagree that “vital inward loosening” is a fitting description.

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Insecurity

(Part 71 of 74 in My Journey)

http://zenhabits.net/insecure/

The problem comes from how we deal with the feeling of insecurity. We might curl up and hide, lash out at someone in a hurtful way, harden our rigid views of the world so that everyone else is wrong and we’re continually angry. We might procrastinate and run to distraction, use social media to avoid feeling insecurity, try to control others or the world around us to end the feeling of insecurity.

~ Leo Babauta

I have been lucky—repeatedly over the course of several years—to have had Leo Babauta’s writing available to me. One theme that he repeats is the idea of being kind to one’s self.

The insecurity that I’m not good enough, in my own judgement, is deeply held. I regularly and often flee to easy comforts; it’s been many things over the years, but in the most recent years, it is food.

Not often enough, but sometimes, I find a way to practice being kind to myself. One that works well is: “Spend 30 minutes balancing on a rail. If you fall, simply get back on. Take your time. Be kind to yourself.” Each time I do this I know I will reach a barter-stage where I’m ready to be done. Each time I do this I know I will fall off often—it’s hard for me to even leave out the word “too,” from the phrase, “fall off too often.” Each time I do this it makes me sweat from the physical effort not from, (for example,) the fear. I do fear that some day this exercise will no longer work for me.

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A preamble

(Part 11 of 11 in A Tracer's Manifesto)

( In late 2016 I began a small discussion with a few friends about an idea. Eventually the project became a web site [now gone] and this series contains the posts from that site. The project continues in the Parkour Forum. )

Originally published Feb 14, 2017

I feel the Manifesto should contain a preamble. This would be an opportunity to set the tone of the thing, to lay some groundwork and to set out the Manifesto’s goals.

…meanwhile, we’re still trying to figure out how a “group discussion” works with web/email via the Google Group.

One thing I do not want to do, is to put ill-formed chunks of thinking here (on the blog on the web site). So this [this post itself] makes sense in the blog, but my draft-chicken-scratch musings do not. So here is this blog post, and I will next post into the group my musings.

– Craig Constantine

Preamble

The goal of this Manifesto is to lay out values and ideals in the context of Parkour. I am writing in the hope that this will cause others to think deeply about their own values, ideals, and personal philosophies. If you do not consciously choose these things, you are surrendering yourself to the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted.

Do you have a mind? Do you use it? How do you use it? What does your mind realize? What are your values and ideals? Where did you obtain them? Are they correct? How does any of that apply to your personal understanding of Parkour?

These are deep questions, all in the realm of Philosophy. But this Manifesto is not meant to be a rigorous treatise of Philosophy. By thinking about these questions, each of us can expand our personal Parkour, and increase the good that Parkour can accomplish generally. I also believe that by examining questions commonly encountered in the context of Parkour, we can each enlighten our broader, personal philosophies, values and ideals.

Is there value in movement? Do I have the right to move? When might that right be limited? What responsibilities do I have for my actions? Am I responsible for the ideas and conceptions formed by others who perceive my actions? What responsibilities do I have to my community of fellow tracers, or to my community at large?

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A well-formed ‘About’

(Part 10 of 11 in A Tracer's Manifesto)

( In late 2016 I began a small discussion with a few friends about an idea. Eventually the project became a web site [now gone] and this series contains the posts from that site. The project continues in the Parkour Forum. )

Originally published Feb 3, 2017

The word manifesto traces its roots to the Latin manifestum, which means clear or conspicuous. A manifesto is defined as a declaration of one’s beliefs, opinions, motives, and intentions. It is simply a document that an organization or person writes that declares what is important to them.

A manifesto functions as both a statement of principles and a bold, sometimes rebellious, call to action. By causing people to evaluate the gap between those principles and their current reality, the manifesto challenges assumptions, fosters commitment, and provokes change.

~ Brett McKay

THE SEED THOUGHT

[The following is a direct quote of what I initially wrote. Some of it is already supplanted as I write this.]

I don’t recall who (if anyone) I discussed the following idea with, but it has again bubbled to the surface of my brain: Let’s create a Code of Conduct for parkour/ADD. I’m envisioning a very simple web site; Just a sort of billboard that says this is the Code of Conduct. Then we start grass-roots spreading the word and expecting that every group/team step up to support this CoC by mentioning/linking to the CoC.

At first I thought of making it more complicated by having individuals register (with a closed loop email signup), or having people contact us (uh, me I suppose) to add back-links when they link… but then I thought. Nah. All it needs is to be a bit of a community discussion to settle on the Code (many such codes already exist, shouldn’t be too different for parkour/ADD). Then we enlist a few people to translate it into a few languages, and we put it up.

Thoughts? I know it’s doable… but I’m wondering if it’s *useful*…

META

In late 2016 I began a small discussion with a few friends about this thought. The discussion went — roughly — in three directions, and I wanted to lay this out here to begin a history of the project:

Goal – Discussion of what are we trying to create with this project; What is the concrete, objective thing we are creating? How do we define success; Is it creation of some artifact (a “code” of ethics/conduct?), or is it to reach some level of “adoption” of it?

Code – The most difficult part of the project. Statements of ethics are inherently complex and there is an enormously wide range of scope available. Part of this project will involve sorting out the “height of the bar”; The more complex a social/moral concept embodied in a statement, the more discussion and dissent will be evoked. We will have to balance the desire for achieving wide-spread, grass-roots adoption of the “code” against how far onto the moral high-ground the code sits.

Technology – What technologies, formats and forums are we to use for this project. We’re beginning in a “secret” Facebook group, but I expect to quickly outgrow this forum. I expect we’ll ultimately have to produce a web site to house the finished product, and I hope that can also include a narrative (aka “blog”) capturing the discussions and process. The later point being another reason I want to move “out” of a Facebook group asap, so we can capture as much of the discussion, permanently outside of FB.

A FIRST ATTEMPT AT A NAME

A Traceur’s Manifesto

My Proposal

I’ve veered to using the word “traceur” in the hopes that people who self-identify with Parkour/freerunning/ADD will “recognize” it and will identify with it at least partially, while not being an instant lightening rod of diviciveness. (Using the masculine form in English, because that’s how English works. In other languages, we’ll use the appropriate default gender, which is also masculine as far as I know. eg, French.)

My choice of “manIfesto” is intended to be stirring; This entire project is meant to make people *think*, not actually to achieve changing their minds/opinions. So I feel “manifesto” comes from the moral high road by shouting out a declaration and a call to action. (Obviously, it has to be written so as to actually achieve those goals.)

The use of “A …” implies this manifesto is not presuming to be “The …” one true version of things. Also, “A Traceur’s …” can be interpretted to mean “the traceur who wrote the manifesto”, as well as to mean “this manifesto is for those persons who are traceurs”.

I remain open to being talked out of my opinions. But, after months of thinking about this. I’m convinced this is the best name *I* can come up with. So I’m leaving it here to provide an opportunity for you to talk me out of it.

Presuming it stands, I will build “infrastructure” to actually begin the project; a domain name, web site, google group for discussion, etc.

WHERE IS THE DISCUSSION? HOW DOES ONE CONTRIBUTE?

I’m glad you asked. There is a dedicated forum in the Parkour Forum

https://parkourforum.world/viewforum.php?f=8

As things get discussed, concensus is reached or decisions are made, things will find there way here to this web site.

PREAMBLE

The goal of this Manifesto is to lay out values and ideals in the context of Parkour. I am writing in the hope that this will cause others to think deeply about their own values, ideals, and personal philosophies. If you do not consciously choose these things, you are surrendering yourself to the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted.

Do you have a mind? Do you use it? How do you use it? What does your mind realize? What are your values and ideals? Where did you obtain them? Are they correct? How does any of that apply to your personal understanding of Parkour?

These are deep questions, all in the realm of Philosophy. But this Manifesto is not meant to be a rigorous treatise of Philosophy. By thinking about these questions, each of us can expand our personal Parkour, and increase the good that Parkour can accomplish generally. I also believe that by examining questions commonly encountered in the context of Parkour, we can each enlighten our broader, personal philosophies, values and ideals.

Is there value in movement? Do I have the right to move? When might that right be limited? What responsibilities do I have for my actions? Am I responsible for the ideas and conceptions formed by others who perceive my actions? What responsibilities do I have to my community of fellow tracers, or to my community at large?

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A call to action

(Part 9 of 11 in A Tracer's Manifesto)

( In late 2016 I began a small discussion with a few friends about an idea. Eventually the project became a web site [now gone] and this series contains the posts from that site. The project continues in the Parkour Forum. )

Originally published Feb 2, 2017

“A statement of principles and a bold, sometimes rebellious, call to action,” is the perfect description of what I intend for this project.

Hopefully, eventually many others will contribute generally to the discussion, but I feel it’s important to start by explaining a bit about what this actually is. There are a few others helping with behind-the-scenes meta-work, but all the discussion of the contents of the Manifesto will occur in the open.

Please begin by reading the About page. ( …that is to say, the next part of this series. )

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Where is the discussion?

(Part 8 of 11 in A Tracer's Manifesto)

( In late 2016 I began a small discussion with a few friends about an idea. Eventually the project became a web site [now gone] and this series contains the posts from that site. The project continues in the Parkour Forum. )

Originally published Jan 27, 2017

I’m glad you asked. There is a dedicated forum in the Parkour Forum

https://parkourforum.world/viewforum.php?f=8

As things get discussed, concensus is reached or decisions are made, things will find there way here to this web site.

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A tweak to the name

(Part 7 of 11 in A Tracer's Manifesto)

( In late 2016 I began a small discussion with a few friends about an idea. Eventually the project became a web site [now gone] and this series contains the posts from that site. The project continues in the Parkour Forum. )

Originally published Jan 25, 2017

A Tracer’s Manifesto

After some discussion about translations – this entire project is intended to be made available in as many languages as possible – I decided to use the English word “tracer” in the title. When we translate to French, for example, we’ll use “traceur”, etc.

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A first attempt

(Part 6 of 11 in A Tracer's Manifesto)

( In late 2016 I began a small discussion with a few friends about an idea. Eventually the project became a web site [now gone] and this series contains the posts from that site. The project continues in the Parkour Forum. )

Originally published Jan 1, 2017

A Traceur’s Manifesto

My Proposal

I’ve veered to using the word “traceur” in the hopes that people who self-identify with Parkour/freerunning/ADD will “recognize” it and will identify with it at least partially, while not being an instant lightening rod of diviciveness. (Using the masculine form in English, because that’s how English works. In other languages, we’ll use the appropriate default gender, which is also masculine as far as I know. eg, French.)

My choice of “manIfesto” is intended to be stirring; This entire project is meant to make people *think*, not actually to achieve changing their minds/opinions. So I feel “manifesto” comes from the moral high road by shouting out a declaration and a call to action. (Obviously, it has to be written so as to actually achieve those goals.)

The use of “A …” implies this manifesto is not presuming to be “The …” one true version of things. Also, “A Traceur’s …” can be interpretted to mean “the traceur who wrote the manifesto”, as well as to mean “this manifesto is for those persons who are traceurs”.

I remain open to being talked out of my opinions. But, after months of thinking about this. I’m convinced this is the best name *I* can come up with. So I’m leaving it here to provide an opportunity for you to talk me out of it.

Presuming it stands, I will build “infrastructure” to actually begin the project; a domain name, web site, google group for discussion, etc.

ɕ