Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble many times have you heard this expression coming from traceurs/traceuses, who have been practicing for a while?

It's also the favorite closing statement to most online discussions related to technique or to the various types of fear (pls. discuss "fears" in a separate thread, lol!).

What do people really mean with it?

That you will have to microanalyze, dissect, evaluate all implications of your action?
That you just have to stop thinking about it? In order to remove the mental block?
That "you just have to go for it"?...

All and everything, of course.
But, by observing very closely some persistent practitioners trying (not training) the same movements over-and-over-and-over, and also by watching this video a couple millions of time (<- lie!), I recently came to the conclusion that follows:

"PK starts in your head, and it pretty much finishes there; the rest is implementation through controlled movement."
Parkour (= efficient human movement over/under/through/around obstacles) manifests itself when obstacle, environment, technique and physical capacities have been carefully assessed, preplanned and enacted in one's mind, then inertia is applied, and momentum is efficiently carried through.


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I disagree that pk starts in your head. If it started there and ended there we would never get outside. pk starts when you are faced with a challenge and ends when you overcome it. It's just that most people practicing parkour soon realize that the hardest obstacles to overcome are mental ones.

I think the sentiment behind "it's all mental" when referencing pk is more a statement about what is truly at the heart of pk. Is it a physical practice? A pop culture phenomenon? A sport, game, activity, thrill or ritual? Well, yes/no/maybe... but really pk is a headspace. It's a perspective.

In general, I think the practitioners on this forum tend to be very cerebral when it comes to pk and, while I think all traceurs dream in parkour, my guess is that the majority or practitioners are not as deeply analytical as those of us who like to write about pk philosphy. However, the statement "it's all mental" applies to all of us when it comes to facing down that tough cat leap, that long wall run, or those aching bones. It's not analytical - it's viceral. But still it's all mental.

(that makes sense to me, at least. Am I talking out my a--?)
The social manifestation and perception of parkour that you mention is quite interesting, but I was really thinking only about the essence of parkour: the movements executed by the practitioner.

About that it seems to me that we agree: "not analytical, visceral, but still all mental", thus taking place in one's head, no?

"When you are faced with a challenge and you overcome it", it's when you perceive (with your mind) that THAT is a challenge, and when you decide that you can overcome it. (Or not, and "change wall", as D.B said...)
Following that you "just do it" (<-copyright by Nike), implementing it with your body, w/o thinking about it in the process; otherwise you'll probably fail/bail...
The two of you both bring up good points. I hadn't quite thought about the mental aspect of PK in your ways before. I like em.

What I always thought it meant was that the biggest obstacle of all was not the jumps or the vaults, but my own hesitation and fear. If I'm constantly worrying about the jumps, I'm going to mess it up in a hundred different ways; worse, I might never even work up the courage to do it. However, once I really do believe in myself and my own capability to do the move, it goes off without a hitch. Nothing has changed about me physically, but I've gotten past the mental barrier of "Oh, this is impossible, I'll never do this" and realized that it is completely possible to do.

In other words, once you get all the mental junk and disbelief out of the way, once you're able to execute move after move confidently without hesitation, the physical portion will become MUCH easier to pull off and master.

But that's just me, and hey, I could be a total tragedy. Who knows.
I think you're exactly right. How familiar are we all with that agonizing stall when you're staring at something you know you can do, but can't convince yourself to commit to?

Check out 44:00 on this film, even yamakasi have to face those mental obstacles! I mentioned above, though, the aspect of fear is very complex: sometimes it's unreasonably holding us back (as in: "what if I'm gonna miss that simple precision again, and maybe fall on my ass, embarrassing me in front of everybody..."), sometimes (like in the video) it's VERY reasonably holding us back (btw. 1:02:30 has been often used as an example of reckless, endangering training...).

So, just another time, "courage" ≠ "recklessness".

But agreed "mental obstacles" take form and are resolved in one's mind... 5+ stories up it's a quite physical obstacle to me, instead.
...from the Videos section (more comments there):


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