Another post from my old parkour blog:
March 13th 2009
Every so often I hear someone talking about parkour and they say something like this, "I love parkour. It gives you the freedom to do whatever you want and to train however you feel."
This is often followed up by something like, "No rules, just parkour!"
I get a bit of a bee in my bonnet when I hear this because when you get right down to it there must be an element of following rules and sticking to boundaries to successfully practice parkour.
Let me elaborate. If you want to get good at anything (being successful at it), you must discipline yourself to practice regularly. No practice means no progression. So that means we can write at least one rule. It is the nature of any discipline that you actually discipline yourself to follow it. This is in fact an act of deliberately reducing your freedom so that you can improve.
Things don't end there (thank goodness). Like an experienced practitioner of any discipline will tell you, the real freedom comes after the thousands of hours and countless repetitions of movement and physical conditioning. Only then, when you have a good strength base and the technical movement has become instinctive, are you really free.
Even then there are limitations that exist because we are human. No amount of training can prepare you for 100 foot drops for instance. These natural laws are a barrier to complete freedom, though it could be argued that accepting our limitations brings great freedom. Know thyself!
Another limitation that is inherent in parkour comes from the altruistic side of things. We do not trespass knowingly and when security or police ask us to move on we are polite and respectful, following instructions and seeking to build good community relationships.
So what exactly do people mean by "being free" in parkour? Some are just mistaken and learn fairly quickly that you must train long and hard before taking the big drops. Others have an aspect of teenage rebellion in their attitude and want freedom to do what they want. I personally hope that it is more along the lines of breaking out of the boxes that society makes for us, and increasing our physical capacity so that we can do more than before. Something that takes into account some positive values for the good of mankind.
If we can do progressively more with our bodies and minds than before (in a positive way of course) then it can safely be said that we are increasing our freedom, and even the freedom of others.
Be strong to be free!