Beyond borders

Parkour has become an enormous international discipline with lots of influence from all corners of the world. It is by all means necessary that we try to understand in what way the joy for movement is growing, and why. This text is based on an experience and its following reflective thoughts.  

A few weeks ago, our very own bald fury Mikkel Thisen went to Boston and joined forces with Parkour Generations America. He went there to deliver ADAPT level 2 with Andy Pearson from Parkour Generations UK, and to teach during the annual American Rendevouz 2014. 

This article is made with the purpose to understand why this international relationship is worth keeping and nourishing. Spending energy on traveling is well-spent energy. It seems that there are great benefits in going abroad, and hopefully it is likewise beneficial for the American community to have inspiration flown in from Denmark and the UK.

The discipline is versatile and multifaceted, but still we create specialists around the world. Specialists who exist due to many things, culture, mind-set and architecture, with big emphasis on the latter. Because we move with our surroundings, we integrate their nature into our movement patterns, and suddenly we see different nationalities doing different things really well - Danish laches, English precisions and Spanish cat-passes. Of course this doesn't mean that different nationalities aren't good at anything else, just that there is a tendency in our movement patterns. When meeting up, teaching together, exploring unfamiliar places and cities, we have a unique possibility to learn something about our weaknesses. If we consider Parkour/ADD/Freerunning to be an almost complete and highly diverse discipline, then we must also recognize when we fail to treat all movement patterns equally. This experience is inevitable when different cultures meet and gather information and inspiration, and try to work towards a common goal - in this situation the delivery of ADAPT level 2 and American Rendevouz 2014.

When we work together across boarders, we all get to pitch in. In this sense the old saying "too many cooks in the kitchen ruin the broth" doesn't count. Everybody brings an ingredient to the table, an ingredient that will make the dish more fulfilled. In the same way our teaching sessions will be more wholesome if everybody bring some of their own expertise or preferences to the table. This is because we sometimes have a tendency to close in on ourselves, only leaving the comfort zone within very familiar movements. This is also one of the reasons why we become specialized within our small communities.

International relationships create more than friendships - they create new ideas and larger foundations.

International relationships create more than friendships - they create new ideas and larger foundations.

A real eye-opener is the cultural differences between our countries. In Denmark we have been struggling with the public acceptance of parkour for at least 8-10 years. Thus we have a very open-minded public setting, which heavily increases the amount of places where we can train. Besides that, we are blessed with good fortune when it comes to purpose-built parkour-parks. So in what way is it nice to go anywhere else, when we have the most developed place in the world, when considering training possibilities?

For us it is a blessing to get away from this perfectly adapted parkour paradise, just as it is a blessing to be here, visit here and live here. Parkour is as much about the adventure of finding new places as it is about trying to be creative in well-known locations. Sometimes we might get lost, and forget to do this here in Denmark, the adventure, discovering new spots and so on, but traveling will quickly impose this situation upon us.

In Street Movement we have a notable approach to our training and teaching that might not be of same magnitude in other countries. That approach is our playfulness, which is indisputably connected to the close relationship between Gerlev Idrætshøjskole and Street Movement. Playfulness is an extremely important part of our teaching paradigm in Street Movement, because playing with obstacles is a truly positive way to overcome hardships. We try to balance the way we deliver the discipline in a way that emphasizes seriousness and playfulness equally. In this way we might keep the child-like attitude and beginners mind, without losing the functional foundation of an experience-based mind.

By passing on this playful approach, we hope that other countries or communities also feel inspired to keep developing their way of teaching and training. There is no right or wrong way, and there is no perfect way either. Maybe the only approach that exist is the imperfect approach and that is why we should keep on challenging our own beliefs and systems. We will never get it completely right and we will always miss out on something. The finest of chores will be to keep exploring others and ourselves. Keep developing, keep changing and trying new ways, never believe that you are complete and always keep an open mind towards other and their approach.

"See with eyes unclouded"