Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

Documentary by Brian Tracey and Marco Antonio Balderas of Ex'Pression College.

Views: 100

Location: berkeley, ca

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Comment by Chris on May 18, 2009 at 10:53pm
(without reading the other responses...)

I really liked this short piece. I thought Seng did a fantastic job as well. The history part was a little dicey, but everything else was great including the movement. I like the explanation of flow which differs from my own, but is still extremely valid. I have always understood flow as the ability to move at your best void of any thought. You can tell you have achieved it when a finished run feels amazing but you cannot remember what you did.

(after reading the other responses...)

Flow is all the things that both of you described. One word with multiple meanings. I don't understand the FR/PK distinction in this case though....both of your descriptions apply to both disciplines.
Comment by Seng on May 18, 2009 at 10:18pm
I agree that there's a bit to be desired in the presentation in all the ways that SNS has mentioned. I also was surprised that they only used me for motion and interview since I know they talked to some other very qualified people (eg Jodie) and also because the delivery of my statements was definitely not fluid. I think the film and my responses were somewhat incomplete in defining what flow is, even in my singular opinion. IIRC, I did answer about more aspects of how I think one develops fluidity- about training, creating structures of preparedness, understanding space and one's body, etc- but those portions weren't included for whatever reason.

So to continue the discussion: personally, flow is as much a goal as a result. I don't know if that starts up the whole freerunning/parkour debate, and perhaps my value of flow lands me on the freerunning side, but I believe that developing flow and developing utility are not mutually exclusive but instead symbiotic. The ability to create flow is an indicator of one's ability to understand and manage risk; that is the flip side of saying that developing one's utility creates efficiencies which can be admired for their own refined aesthetics.

As SNS noted, flow and being in the zone are related at varying levels. I think that awareness and even avoidance of risk is part of being in the zone; it's just that when you're in the zone you comprehend a situation well enough to avoid unsurpassable problems well before they present themselves. Or from another position, an individual in the zone has already influenced their situation to be favorable to themselves which includes moving away from or removing dangerous possibilities to the extent that those dangers aren't able to significantly influence the moment. In parkour, that might mean finding a path that requires a greater number of manageable decisions instead of a smaller number of riskier ones. So to achieve a state of being in the zone requires much practice- mental and physical which tends to combine to become a bit spiritual or metaphysical- in creating flow. There isn't a dichotomy between letting go and being in control, between the mind and the body, between the pratitioner and their situation, they all exist concurrently and without conflict.

To be hopefully a little less esoteric, I think having fluid movement is as much about clarity of mind as it is about practice of the body. For me, this is strongly rooted in my music performance background- when I felt rushed playing a passage- usually because of lack of practice of technique or the music itself- it didn't matter whether the tempo was fast or slow, quick or relaxed; when my mind wasn't able to listen, when my body couldn't feel what was happening, the music wasn't correct even if I was playing the right pitches at right time. As Claude Debussy is quoted as saying, "Music is the space between the notes." Understanding flow requires an understanding of the movement as whole, not just the solution of individual problems.
Comment by SafeNSure on May 18, 2009 at 12:05pm
...props to Seng (messenger33) for having it down, and thanks to filmographers and documentarists for being always so into PK and also willing to try putting it the 'right' perspective.

Having said that, talk about how a 'production' can spoil it (for me!): from the title credits, to the 30" introduction (wtf?), the voiceover, the mixed use of flashy stills, amateurial clips and youtube material.
So: nice try, but... maybe better next time.
;)

Another thing! (Something already noticed in Point B...)
Aside that, when talking about "Flow", I believe the vast majority of traceurs (and traceuses) would agree that it's a result, not a goal; meaning that a certain practitioner acquires, demonstrates or manifests "flow" when she/he is in smooth control of his/her body movements in relationship with the given environment; thus flow it's not pursued, instead it "happens"...
But there's also another misinterpretation, IMO.

Given the above description ("smooth control of his/her body movements in relationship with the given environment" -being this by no mean a final definition...-), I noticed that 'having' flow is sometimes mixed up with 'being in The Zone' (the equivalent of 'playing out of one's mind' in ball games, i.e.), which involves often a quasi-transcendental state of mental-awareness, in which "you are watching yourself playing", while the body plays -usually a game, b-ball, tennis, golf, etc.- "instinctively".

While this is very cool, and existing at even intermediate levels also in many individual sports/disciplines, as, i.e., snowboarding, surfing, W-surfing, mountain-biking, etc. I believe that:

- a. "flow" in parkour it's a lower level of 'manifestation', it pertains to the effortless, smoothness and naturality of movement; it is present (when moving in a properly suited environment) also at lower levels, since it's about the harmony of the controlled movement within that given environment, not about a state of mind;

- b. the total, yet detached awareness, of "being in the zone" is really reserved (if anything!) to EXTREMELY proficient, experienced and committed practitioners, because 'falling out-of-the-zone' usually involves the most "epic" wipe-outs, which are epic ONLY if they are not fatal... thus water, snow and, in general, an inclined surface will help minimize over flat or edged concrete, while PK, as a discipline, would want to minimize any risk-taking, thus demanding a bit more of control and a bit less "letting go", IMO...

Does it make any sense?
:)

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