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  • CJ

The Spiral Blog V1.1

Updated: May 2, 2023




5 Things I Love and 5 Things I Hate about Parkour.


Well… It finally happened. Yesterday, when out training, I fractured my ankle doing a running arm jump. It’s put me out of training for six to eight weeks. As gutted as I am about being unable to train, I’m determined to stay positive while recovering. So to help me and hopefully help others in the community who may be in a similar boat, I’m starting the Spiral Blog, where I can publicise my opinions on recent happenings in the community.

Parkour is something I hold very dear to my heart and what would love be, if there wasn’t any hatred to keep things balanced? The Ying and Yang of parkour work in mysterious and unpredictable ways as I found out yesterday. That’s why Issue 01 is ‘5 things I love and 5 things I hate about parkour’.

Whilst the painkillers are starting to set in, I think I’ll start with the things I hate.


5 Things I hate about Parkour


No.1 Injuries


That’s right injuries. Who saw that coming? Obviously, injuries aren't exclusive to parkour, but it’s the way these injuries emerge that really grinds my gears. With parkour being an extreme sport in unforgiving environments, practitioners are extra careful with risk assessing especially when dealing with challenges that test your limits or involve some consequence. No one wants to get injured so they make sure they are fully locked in and focused when doing the thing they need to do.

But I’ve found almost always, injuries are from something you simply can not predict. You can do a hundred side flips perfectly with no problem at all. And then one day, for some reason, snap! You’re out of the game for years (Sorry Jesse). I’ve never been injured doing something I think I might get injured doing and always get injured doing things I can do perfectly.

It’s this type of stuff that makes you second-guess everything you do and plays with your mind big time. And an easy mind is essential for parkour. It makes your whole life scary, but a different type of scary. Obviously, you get scared doing parkour, but with the injuries I’ve seen I’m more scared of walking to the next spot, in case I roll my ankle on a curb because that’s when you let your guard down.

You’re probably better off doing monkey runs or cartwheels instead of walking at this rate.

(A special mention to ankle thing and shins. I feel like these injuries are more common in parkour than in any other sport. They stink and I hate them.)


No. 2 - Rain


Imagine this, you’ve got a free weekend, all your mates are keen on training, you organise a spot and time to meet, and you’ve done some stretching or mobility. You're feeling good. You’ve been thinking about this spot for weeks dreaming of a line you are ready to throw down and just before you leave the house… The heavens open up and your entire day is ruined.

Rain sucks. It’s unpredictable and inconvenient and it writes off spots. It honestly makes me want to pack up and move to literally anywhere as long as it has less rain.

Look, man, rain is good for climate regulation, vegetation and pretty much most life on Earth. Now don't get me wrong I like all of those things but I like parkour significantly more so that’s why It’s coming in at number 2.


No. 3 - Punch gainers


Where do I even start with this trick? It is simply the most disgusting thing I have ever tried. I have a, very rational, phobia of punch gainers. Not because I’ve bailed one (I have but that’s not why I have them.) I hate them because they make no sense whatsoever.


If you don’t know, punch gainers are where you run forwards, take off two feet then do a backflip travelling forwards.


If you’re picturing that in your head and thinking ‘That can’t be right.’ You’re probably imagining it right. They make no sense. If you’re running forwards your momentum is going forwards. As soon as those feet are set ready to plyo backflip, your chest is coming from behind your feet travelling forwards. You understand how this is a serious problem right? Your chest on a gainer or backflip is wanting to come from forwards to backwards. This just simply can not happen for punch gainers. So I guess you have to scum out the rotation out of somewhere but I will never understand how to do it.


Don’t get me wrong, they look cool. Really cool. But the biomechanics and physics just don’t add up in my opinion.


Maybe one day I’ll understand but until then they can join Injuries and rain in the bin.


No. 4 - Walking away from a challenge


In terms of immediate frustration, this has got to be the worst one. You’re so close to a challenge you have been trying it for hours. But the sun is setting and your body is knackered. You’ve been telling yourself or your mate who’s filming “One more go” for the last 25 minutes.


There comes a point where you just have to let it go.


This one is even worse when you’re at a spot that’s far away or you know you won't be back anytime soon. It’s truly gut-wrenching because you know you could do it with fresh legs but today just wasn’t the day. And you have to make the journey home with it replaying in your head over and over. It’s not worth losing sleep over but that’s the only thing I can think about when I’m trying to drift off. It makes me feel inadequate frustrated and stressed.


It’s not all doom and gloom though. You can use that emotion for good. If you’re fortunate for it to be at a local spot, you can come back another day with fresh legs and one bang it. Or use it as a progression arch. One day you can’t do something and the next day you can. Shows a lovely sign of progression and hard work paying off which is a beautiful feeling. But like I say, the yings and yangs of parkour work in mysterious ways and you are going to have to feel that stress, frustration and inadequacy if you want to feel the elation of ticking off a challenge.


It is also a valuable lesson to learn. Know when you have been defeated and take no shame in walking away. It is never worth pushing through fatigue to try and get a scummy line with terrible tech or even worse exposing yourself to injury. But no words on a screen can take away that horrible feeling of walking away from a challenge and that’s why it's coming in at number 4.


No. 5 - Cringy muggles


I really didn’t want to talk about this because it gets me so fed up. And using the term ‘cringy muggles’ makes me sound so stuck up and to be honest just as cringy. But I had to get it off my chest.


The amount of times people have shouted ‘parkour!’ at me whilst I’m training is tragically high. I’m not sure why they do it. It might be because they think they’re the first person to think of that. Are they trying to be clever? Funny? Original? I will never know their intentions but I do know it is neither clever, funny nor original.


And I don’t want to come across as aggressive to anyone who doesn’t do parkour. I love it when inquisitive people approach me and ask what I’m doing. It’s just that special type of person who feels the need to be at the centre of everything and needs some sort of gratification from their friends so they like shouting things at strangers.


I’m sure it’s not done with bad intent but it makes me feel like my sport is a joke to you. When in actual fact you have no idea what parkour is apart from that one episode of ‘The Office.’ Which could have been a thing I hate about parkour in its own right.


But it’s just the ‘Parkour!’ and the ‘Can you do a backflip mate?’ That just cringes me out beyond belief. I don’t even want to think about it anymore.



On to a more positive light on parkour.


5 Things I Love about Parkour


No.1 - Community


The fact this has nothing to do with training and is coming in at my number 1 spot for the thing I love most about parkour speaks volumes to the kind of community this sport has. Parkour attracts some seriously weird folk. The sport is unorthodox and so is its community. I’m best mates with people I would not give the time of day if it wasn’t for parkour. Not to say if they didn’t do parkour I would dislike them, but it’s a way of making conversation and getting to know someone.


One moment you’re sizing up a Cat pass with some guy from Guatemala who barely speaks a word of English, the next, you’re 6 pints deep with him talking about his aspirations to be a Zumba instructor.


Not an exact anecdote but along those lines.


When I first started training, I would often train alone as I didn’t have time, money or a car to go visit different spots. Also because I wasn’t aware of any community around my area. I trained a bit in Bedford with the Spiral boys but in terms of a community, the only community I could grasp was from social media. It wasn’t until I took a trip to Bristol that I really experienced the vibe of the community in its flesh. Since then, the community has grown. And me with it. And I can’t imagine parkour without it.


No. 2 - Seratonin


There are so many ways to get those SSRIs in motion with parkour. That feeling of achievement, overcoming something you once thought wasn’t possible. You can’t help but smile. And just like the serotonin from cocaine or ecstasy is addictive, parkours serotonin is no different. It’s always “Yes I did it I can’t believe I did it… let me do it again.”


Alternatively, I see people having to take a moment after a line just because they want to feel that rush and serotonin pumping away. A good example was from sole destroyer where Johnstone (I think) did a line in Lisbon (I think) where he didn’t want to see the clip straight away because he wanted to hold onto the feeling of just throwing down a sick line. He was just sitting on the floor seething with that adrenaline + serotonin. Trying to stay in that moment and hold onto that feeling as long as possible. Looked a bit like a junkie to me. But aren’t we all?


Parkour is just like crack. I want more.


No.3 - Fashion


Parkour fashion is unique. The way it has changed from era to era conforming to trends and stepping away from them has created this niche genre of style. I could talk about my opinion of fashion in parkour and how it’s developed in much more detail but I may save that for another Issue.


The style is based around movement and the clothes you wear when training makes a surprising difference to the way your movement looks. If you’re wearing tight clothing, the movement looks restricted slightly. You can see the limbs make these weird shapes and the flow is fairly blocky. Not to mention how tight clothing restricts movement.


If you look at parkour clothing brands, there is a lot of appeal for that oversized skater-type look. Parkour has taken a lot from skateboarding, perhaps because the environment they both train in is the same. Urban sports whether it is inline skating, skateboarding or parkour, usually match the ‘streetwear’ end of fashion.


The baggy look has always favoured me. Ever since the Etrefort joggers era, the movement looks so much more fluid.


Yes, it complements your movement… but you also look gangsta as hell just walking around.


There is however always a constant shift in what parkour fashion actually consists of. It’s moving towards more tight-fitting clothes too which I’m not going to share my opinion on because this is supposed to be about the ‘things I love’. And I’ll leave it to a later issue.


No.4 - Travel opportunities


Parkour has taken me to some weird places. I’ve seen things… things no man should ever have to see. Most people go to a city and look for nice places to go. Maybe you want to sit in the sun, grab a coffee, and explore the city centre. With parkour, you go to a city walk right past the nice parts of it and find yourself in a little alleyway or someone's front garden and have the time of your life.


Parkour has taken me to Bristol, Cardiff, The Netherlands, and London and none of those experiences were anywhere near normal. The sport has allowed me to go to places I would never have gone to otherwise. I am very keen on travel in general and I would like to do more soon and Parkour is the best way to do that. It makes going to strange places seem less daunting because you’re going for the spots.


I’m going to end this one off with a cringe saying so here goes;


‘It doesn’t matter where you are. If you’re doing parkour, you’ll always feel at home.’


No.5 - Parkour vision


If you ever see me wondering about looking up at a building or doing a double take at some rails, mind your business.


Parkour vision has completely changed the way I walk down a street. It makes a boring part of your day into something interesting and exciting.


If you don’t know what I mean when I say parkour vision, it’s basically when you look at something anyone else would find mundane, but there's actually a really nice parkour challenge. And the more you start to think of potential parkour spots, the more you find.


Just the other day I found a perfect spot for a chimney slide on my drive back from work. I was looking out the window for slightly too long as the car ahead pulled away I was still sizing up the chimney slide. After a swift beep from the car behind I set back off.


It sounds weird but it’s a way of not getting caught up in your own head, too. Before I had this parkour vision, whenever I would walk around by myself, I would just be thinking. Everything was inwards and I felt I wasn’t living in the moment. But now I’m paying attention to the world around me. My self-consciousness dissipated as I’m not thinking about myself anymore. I’m thinking about if this catpass pre is a thing or not.


Well, that's my list. I could talk about this in a more detailed academic way but for now, you’re just going to get a big fat rant about my opinions. If you like them great! If not? That’s okay too. Let me know if there's anything I missed out or got wrong. Let's get chatting. It would be great to use your opinions for future blog posts. If there's enough interest, I’ll look into making a discord server where people can share their opinions on things like clothing drops, films or viral clips.


Anyway, if you made it this far, you are a trooper.


As you were,

CJ,

Spiral Freerun.



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