I’ll be podcasting and presenting Art of Retreat 2022

During the Sept 24th weekend, I’ll once again be recording conversations with community leaders and movement enthusiasts at a retreat in the Cascades outside of Seattle. Follow that link If you’re interested in the nuts-and-bolts of what I do in order to create some conversations. Over there, I’ll be posting replies as the project progresses over the next two weeks. I’ll be showing my work—preparation, packing, gear, field recording, and post-production. I’ll try to cover everything from ideation to the final deliverables.

The first piece of context is, what is the event that I’m attending? It’s an immersive gathering celebrating leadership in parkour. We bring remarkable leaders from the global parkour community together for 4 days of learning, sharing, and play.

https://www.artofretreat.com

The event is a concept which has been held in various locations over the years. It’s near and dear to me both in the sense that I’m into parkour and I’m into podcasting. I’m also leading an interactive session about Creating Better Conversation.

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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, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/coaching-through-play-how-does-work-john-hall/

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.

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Grit

(Part 73 of 73 in series, My Journey)

Don’t let ease tempt you. Don’t fall for its false promises. What you gain in ease, you lose in meaning. What you gain in ease, you lose in excellence.

~ Hugh MacLeod from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2022/07/08/follow-the-yellowbri-road-to-greatness/

This topic came up today in an outdoor Parkour class. Being outside, training, sweating, and overcoming challenges with friends old and new is always a treat. (“If this isn’t nice…“)

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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, https://barefootstrongblog.com/2021/05/06/sensory-stacking-the-integration-of-tactile-visual-and-auditory-input/

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.

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Obstacles

When you start to see your world as something more in line as a tool and an obstacle to interact with, play with, you’re going to take that lesson and look at other obstacles in your life. Your relationships, your job, your work, your health even. All these things are going to be so strongly ultimately affected by this tiny little change of yourself and your city.

~ Caitlin Pontrella from, https://forum.moversmindset.com/t/004-caitlin-pontrella-movement-creative-play-and-community/79

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The story we tell

The story that you tell people is the story that they’ll believe. And that’s the story that you become. And so for Parkour, we have a bunch of disparate stories that are being told right now, where you have people that are doing their own things… I just think that it’s important that the people who are doing so are taking responsibility for their impact that they have on the global community and the way that Parkour is being viewed.

~ Max Henry

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Really! I wasn’t kidding the other day when I mentioned episode 4 This one is from episode 5.

Recently I published episode 129 of Movers Mindset. And there are 95 episodes of conversations with podcasters for the Podcaster Community’s show. And 38 episodes that I did for Art of Retreat’s SPARKs podcast. Okay, I’m panicking a little now. There are so many amazing things that people have shared!

Know anyone who wants to help me by working as an “archivist” or “research fellow” or something like that? …please forward!

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Disparate stories

The story that you tell people is the story that they’ll believe. And that’s the story that you become. And so for Parkour, we have a bunch of disparate stories that are being told right now, where you have people that are doing their own things… I just think that it’s important that the people who are doing so are taking responsibility for their impact that they have on the global community and the way that Parkour is being viewed.

~ Max Henry

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When do you stop?

I’m away at a parkour event this weekend, lots of walking and playing and jumping. One session was a discussion of fear, and of consequences. And one particular question for discussion was, “When do you stop?” People raised lots of ideas—good ideas, wise ideas… lots of things I was in agreement about.

But I was also thinking, “Wait. Why do I have to decide that?”

I know I’ve certainly faced decisions about stopping. Work, play, relationships, sports, parkour practices (ask me about the time I climbed across a train station outside of Paris,) … yes, deciding if, when and why to stop is an obvious question.

If I think about two paths—perhaps diverging in the woods, if you like that imagery—an hour’s hike along the path of one choice, I might decide I’m going the wrong way. There’s one of those when-to-stop decisions. But the mistake was an hour before, where the paths diverged.

This business venture: what if I had truly been committed, and had planned clearly the way we’d know when to stop? The question is gone. This relationship: could it be planned, or could two people be so honest, that the question doesn’t appear? This parkour jump, at the end of an exhausting day of training: why am I standing here, right now? If I’d planned better, could I have gotten all the same benefit, but a few minutes before right-now, I’d have moved to something else?

Might it be possible to still have challenge, commitment, growth, love, spontaneity, and humor… without ever having to decide, “should I stop this now?”

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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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Novice and Expert Learners

There are two important takeaways from this idea. The first is that this is a sliding scale not a pair of absolutes. Almost everyone sits somewhere between. Secondly, by virtue of their position, teachers coaches and educators will always be experts. They have deep domain specific knowledge about an issue and understand it in a very different manner from the novice learners they are invariably teaching.

~ John “Hedge” Hall from, http://skochypstiks.com/novice-and-expert-learners-the-impossible-rift/

I am not a parkour coach. But John most definitely is. He gave a wonderfully lucid and thought-provoking discussion at the last Art of Retreat which has left a permanent idea/mark/lesson in my mind about the “journey” each of us goes through in our learning process. (Just because I feel I learned the lesson, doesn’t mean I’m necessarily any good at passing it along.)

Anyway, John has a lot of really good thoughts on inclusivity in practice!

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