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Parkour Vision

The world is your playground.


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is parkour vision?”

“One of the (many) things I love about Parkour is how it changes your perception of the environment. Among practitioners, this phenomenon is called parkour vision.

Parkour vision allows you to see possibility within the ordinary.

With parkour vision, the environment becomes magical: every rail is an opportunity to balance on, jump on, or vault over, lines on the ground are virtual rails, parking poles (bollards) are literal stepping stones, light poles and walls are vertical walkways… Children’s playgrounds are exquisite bundles of joy with beautiful echoes of childhood. The limit is your skill level (the more proficient you are, the more possibilities you see) and your creativity.

What’s beautiful about parkour vision is that it’s always on. It becomes a part of you, the default lens through which you see the world. It enriches your perception of reality, and, by extension, your life.”

Life Patterns

What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits. (Carl Jung)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What current aspects of your life are an evolution of previous ones?”

“I’ve identified three major aspects:

Moving as a child

I love moving.

I used to love moving as a child. Running, jumping, climbing, creative physical challenges… I realize I was doing Parkour long before I knew Parkour existed. Discovering Parkour was actually a rediscovery. Parkour is an evolution of my playful childhood adventures, and something I see myself doing forever. As I like to say, ‘Traceur forever’.

Soul Quest: Parkour Mastery
Identity: MoverTraceurAthlete
Mantra: Move beautiful.

My gaming years

I love playing.

Video games have been an addiction for me for many years. Many people play games as a temporary distraction from the real world. For me, they were my reality. I lived in imaginary fantastic worlds, and the real world was a temporary distraction.

I left video games behind and finally discovered the game of my life: my own life. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; medium read]. The game is a meta-game, which is made up of a myriad lower-order games. I engage in it as both a Player and a Designer.

Soul Quest: Playful Living – Life as Play
Identity: Dani, the Ever-Playful
Mantra: Play is destiny.

Thinking as passion

I love thinking.

I lived in my head most of my life. At some point, I jokingly remarked that if I were to visually represent what the world looked like for me, it would have been mostly empty space and curves of attractive women.

I’ve been playing with ideas for a long time – one of my favorite pastimes. I disregarded other areas of my life, but in the process I got pretty good at it.

The next level in my evolution as a Thinker is meta-thinking, a concept I created to describe the (practical) process of creating conceptual tools and deconstructing meaning. It also involves balancing Thinking with Awareness. I realized that in order to master Thinking I also need to master Non-Thinking, disengaging the mind.

Soul Quests: Thinking Mastery – becoming a Super ThinkerArtful Living – Life as Art
Identity: ThinkerLife-Artist, Explorer and Creator of Meaning
Mantra: Think beautiful.”

The Parkour Walk 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The tube (underground train) in Bucharest is beautiful.”

“What do you like about it?”

“It forms a continuous moving path littered with human-obstacles. It’s a beautiful movement challenge.

Whenever I go by tube, I walk back and forth from one end to the other for the entire duration of the journey.

Fun!”

“You must be getting quite a few stares.”

“This is an integral part of the practice. It’s also a beautiful emotional challenge.”

One Rep

Learn the macro from the micro. (Josh Waitzkin)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I internalize quality?”

Always focus on one quality rep.

Internalize that every rep is the most important rep.

If you think ‘I’m doing 5 reps’, you’re focusing on the outcome.
Shift focus to the process.

‘I’m doing one quality rep.’

If you’re not successful, try again,
and again, and again,
until you get one.

If you’re successful, do another quality rep.
Then another. Then another.

You may reach 5, or not.
It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you’re prioritizing quality over quantity.

You’re learning the macro – the Quality principle – from the micro – every little rep.”

Quality Reps

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How many rep(etition)s are you doing?”

“10 reps.”

Think not in reps but in quality reps (q-reps).

A q-rep is a perfect rep.
A q-rep is a mindful rep.
A q-rep is a learning cycle [<link; medium read].

Better to do 5 q-reps than 10 mindless reps.”

“So the process is, I do as many reps as it takes until I do a q-rep. That’s one. Then I repeat this process four more times.”

“Precisely.

There’s also a hardcore level:

Doing 5 q-reps in a row. Whenever you fail to do a q-rep, you start back from one.

This is a staple of Parkour training.”

On Burpees and Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I get to 100 burpees every day like Brian Johnson does?”

“Understand that it’s as much mental as it is physical. You have to make it meaningful.

Deeply internalize that Energy is your most important resource. It’s an enabler for everything you do. Movement is one essential aspect of Energy – and your overall well-being –, next to Sleep, Eating, and Oscillation.

The most important systems of personal-meaning are your Identity and your Values. You have to integrate Movement into both of these systems.

Embrace your identity of Mover / Athlete.
Embrace Movement as one of your primary Values.

In strategic terms, do them in small sets, and spread them out throughout the day. To ensure consistency, have a system for it.”

“What does your system look like?

“I use the following terminology:

Micro-Unit = 1 burpee (the floor)
Unit = 5 burpees
Macro-Unit = 2 x Unit = 10 burpees (the ceiling)

I like multiples of 5 because they’re easier to count. 

The key to consistency I found is connecting the burpee habit with other activities.

More specifically, with my work-time. I do 3 units (3 x 5) during every work-hour: one at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. If for any reason I skip one, I do a macro-unit (10) next time.

The beauty of this system is that, once it becomes a habit, you don’t need to track your overall daily progress. You know that if you’ve worked 6 hours, you’ve done 90 burpees.”

“What if I can barely do 5 burpees? How can I build up to it?”

To build up to it, adjust the unit. 

Start with the micro-unit – 1 burpee. This is the habit-seed [<medium; short read]. 
Stay at 1 burpee until it feels easy, then add another one. This becomes your new unit.

Whenever the unit feels easy, add another rep.

Whenever you feel tired during the day and feel you can no longer sustain the volume, gradually scale down the unit for the day, all the way to the micro-unit if need be. It’s more important to maintain the habit – three units per hour, however small the unit – than to reach 100.

Focus on Quality. (Perfect/Quality-Reps

Think of every burpee session as a micro-meditation. Start every single one by taking a deep breath and connecting with yourself (Centering). 

In terms of feedback, use sound and markings on the floor to assess quality. The less sound you make – this is called Stealth in Parkour –, and the more precise your hand and foot placement, the better the quality of the rep.

You can also add Variety from time to time and experiment with various types of burpees.”

The Antifragility Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I practice Antifragility?”

See it as a game.

In essence, it’s a game of Perception. You’re playing with Attention and Meaning.

For instance, let’s say a specific situation triggers frustration. Like when a web-page takes too long to load. 

What’s the antifragile response?

You might ask yourself:

How can I beautify this moment?

You might choose to focus on – direct your Attention to – Gratitude. You can bring to mind all the silent gifts you tend to take for granted: your computer, with all its peripherals, the Internet, the chair you’re sitting on, the table you’re sitting at, etc.

You might choose to focus on Time. That small time-window is a beautiful opportunity for a micro-meditation. You can take a few mindful breaths, smile, connect with yourself, and relax.

By accessing some internal resources – Gratitude, Meditation – you’ve taken the situation and turned it on its head.”

“What if in the same situation I’m in an unresourceful state? That makes it harder to access my internal resources.

To quote Tim Ferris:

In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.

“In that case, changing your state becomes the absolute priority.

The best way to change your state quickly is by doing something intensely physical. Like a sprint, or a few burpees… or climbing a tree.

The Movement Game is an essential aspect of the Antifragility Game.

“What if I’m somewhere in public?”

“Even better. You get to practice indifference to other people’s opinions as well – or what I like to call, social deconditioning.”

On practicing Quality

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How many re(petition)s did you do?”

“Ten.”

“How many quality reps?”

“Maybe two or three.”

“Those are the only ones that count.

Make it a habit to only count quality reps.

“How can I maximize the number of quality reps?”

“Make it a game. Remind yourself of it by setting the intention before every practice.

Be your own coach. Slow down. Create space for reflection.

Make every rep a learning cycle [<link; short read].”

The Parkour Walk

Be your unapologetically weird self. (Chris Sacca)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I go for a walk every single day. It’s not your typical walk. It’s a game.”

“What’s the game about?”

“It’s one of those endlessly evolving games. 

Structurally, it’s a collection of rules and themes. The rules serve as creative limitations [<link; short read]; the themes serve as guidelines. 

The game is modular. Adding and removing rules and themes is itself a part of the game.

The main theme of the game is Parkour.”

“So you’re training Parkour every day?”

“Yes. And I plan to never stop.

The game is a playful exploration of my neighborhood – or whatever location I’m in. 

The main rule of the game is to always take a different route.

We have a tendency to take the same route and do the same things every time, to get stuck in habitual patterns. The rule ties in with one of the game’s themes, which is pattern-breaking – breaking out of familiar patterns.

In taking a different route I’m also scouting the neighborhood to discover potential training spots and challenges, and I’m creating a mental training-map.

Another theme of the game is what I call creative training. Going beyond the obvious, and looking for creative training possibilities within the environment.

One aspect of it is an idea I adore, which I know from Max Henry [<link], one of my favorite Parkour practitioners and coaches. It’s called Something Out of Nothing. Looking at a seemingly uninteresting spot in the environment and coming up with creative ways of playing with it.

Another theme is Quantity. By that I mean maximizing training-density [<link; short read]. Getting as much training done as possible within that time span. One aspect of it is maximizing the use of what I call transitional-space [<link; medium read] – the space between training spots or rep(etition)s.”

“Can you give an example?”

“Let’s say I want to get from training spot A to training spot B. The space between the spots is a transitional-space. I could walk the distance, or I could QM the distance – traverse it using Quadruperdal Movement, so on all fours. In the second case, I’m increasing training-density, I get more training done.

Or let’s say I jump from point A to point B. This is one rep. I could choose to walk back to A and do another rep, or to jump back from B to A. In the second case, I’m increasing training-density. In the same time-span I’ve performed two reps instead of one.

Another theme is Quality [<link; short read]. The how is as important as the what. This means striving to be as present as possible at all times, and only counting quality-reps – or beautiful-reps, as I like to call them.

Another theme is Variety. I aim to move in as many different ways as possible. In the same session I might jump on the markings of a parking lot, balance on a fence, vault over a garbage can, climb a tree, roll on a patch of grass, do a wall-run followed by a climb-up, etc.

I live on the 8th floor, so every session ends with a little strength & conditioning session up the stairs – I always take the stairs.

And yet another theme is a focus on the fundamentals of Parkour. I don’t train only the fundamentals, but there’s no session in which I don’t train some of them.”

“Don’t you mind looking weird to the people around you?”

“That’s an essential aspect of the practice.”

Three (time-based) rules

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the three rules?”

“The 5-second rule, the 2-minute rule, and the 5-minute rule.”

“What is the 5-second rule?”

“It’s a powerful activation ritual for breaking through fear and hesitation. 

Whenever you’re about to do something (perceived as) scary, you have a small window of opportunity of about 5 seconds. If you don’t take action in that time-frame, your mind will stop you by coming up with excuses and horror stories.

To overcome that, take a slow deep breath, count backwards from 5 – 5-4-3-2-1 – and move. ‘Movement’ here is both metaphoric and literal. Moving into action, and physically moving your body to activate your physiology. Counting backwards is also important because it both focuses you and distracts you from your thoughts. 

I use this in Parkour every time when breaking jumps.”

“What do you mean by breaking jumps?”

“‘Breaking the jump’ is a Parkour expression which means breaking through the fear of the jump. This is a fundamental aspect of Parkour. Whenever you contemplate doing a jump (or any other move) that’s at the limit of your comfort zone – in what Josh Waitzkin calls ‘the stretch zone‘ – you get instant feedback in the form of fear. The way you progress in Parkour is by constantly breaking through fear barriers.”

“Like in life.”

“Pretty much.”

“What is the 2-minute rule?”

“The rule says: if an action takes less that 2 minutes to do, do it immediately

You’re familiar with the concept of marginal gains.”

“Tiny gains that add up over time?”

“Yes.

This goes the other way too. We might call the opposite phenomenon marginal losses. If you don’t do the little things immediately, they add up, and at some point overwhelm you.”

“What is the 5-minute rule?”

“It has many uses.

One of them is as a starting ritual: committing to doing something for only 5 minutes.

The most difficult part in doing something is getting started.” 

“Why do you think that is?”

“My theory is that it has to do with how you mentally represent it to yourself. 

I like to illustrate it using the energy and movement physical-models.

To set a process in motion requires a certain activation energy.
Once in motion, the energy required to maintain the process is much lower. This is Newton’s first law of motion – an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

The larger you mentally represent a process to yourself, the more activation energy is required. By committing to doing only 5 minutes, you’re lowering the activation energy required for setting the process in motion.

Another use of it is delaying. Whenever you’re tempted to give in to an undesired impulse, make it a habit to delay it and go for a 5-minute walk.

“What if I wanted to use 3 minutes instead of 5?”

“The numbers are not set in stone. They’re customizable. It is the ideas behind them that matter.

Experiment with them until you find your sweet spot.”