Ravings of an insane traceur

Even the purest idea gets corrupted, and the only way to not let it happen is to never conceive of that idea in the first place.” With this statement noted on a random piece of paper, I once again wrote, after a very long pause, something about parkour. Or did I?

Some time ago, there was a group of friends living in parisian suburbs. They were what you would call children of immigrants, of both African and Asian descents mixed with the European one.

What remains now are apocryphal stories, not a recollection of history as it should be. So we do not know how it came to be that this group started exploring their surroundings, the walls and rails and trees and later rooftops. Was it the heritage of some of them, the family roots connecting them to the origins of current sports traditions and methods themselves through somewhat mystical and yet just a normal orphan become firefighter Vietnamese man called Raymond Belle?

Or was it just a child’s play that we all enact, overgrown fueled by their passion and movie stars of the 1980’s?

We might never know. But what became of their actions, the Arts of Movement (these being parkour, freerunning and l’art du déplacement respectively), is known widely.

And yet…

One of these friends, David Belle, once said that he’d been training, not looking back… and suddenly there were people following him. Followers. Arts of Movement were simple enough to grasp and pick up and difficult enough to master as to attract many who were fed up with what has become civilized sports and leisure activities.

Since most of the followers never actually met that first group of friends we now call The Founders, what has become of the Arts of Movement was, is, and will be, somewhat distorted image of the original idea.

For example, my own path in the Arts began years ago by some luck combined with the aforementioned drive to free oneself from the accepted principle of „be strong to be first amongst all.“ Thus I quickly adopted the idea of „to be strong to be useful“ that became synonymous with what I called parkour. But is it?

For me, you see, parkour is an activity of honour. Of betterment and improvement. Of higher standards. It might as well be that my ideas are as far from what The Founders had in mind as can be. Honestly, I couldn’t care less. What I view as parkour made me a better person. A caring person. A humble person. An altruistic person. An inquisitive person. A respecting person. A hardworking person. Of stronger mind and stronger body. Not yet a complete person, but on a path to what I feel might make me a complete person one day.

Parkour that I’ve been practicing and following taught me to look after others as much as I look after myself, since only through cooperation can we reach higher and further. And yet it taught me to listen to my own body and my internal voice, never to give in to pressure and misleading half-truths others might preach.

It taught me there shall be „no violence, no competitions, no groups, no leaders,“ as another of those friends, Sébastien Foucan, once said. That even though I might feel stronger, I’m not here to be the first amongst many, but to be one amongst many, working together, not against.

It also taught me life has to be lived all the time. That you have „to be and to last“, as another motto states. Not only that I work for the goals of tomorrow. Not only that I train to stay fit as long as humanly possible, prefferably until the end of my days. But that every single action causes a reaction, so when I act, I always have to think as well, think about consequences, think about the days to come.

When I look at the state of parkour now… I feel like I’m following some principles that me and a handful of people summoned out of thin air. These principles seem to be fading or have already faded away. I’m not saying it is wrong, since parkour taught me even this, that nothing lasts and everything is chaning by the moment. But I ask myself, from time to time, if what I follow ever was parkour. Or if it is something better, some code of moral values much higher than what The Founders meant for Arts of Movement to ever be. Or if these ideas I consider prescious are just some misguided ravings of a barely sane person.

I can’t tell, since I don’t know The Founders, and even though a good student of parkour, my idea of The Story, the history of the Arts of Movement, is spotty at best. Some days I feel like parkour was stolen from me by human nature and by what some call civilization, or better, institutionalization. Because some can‘t see honourable thing to stay, they have to see to it even the cleanest and purest thought gets corrupted.

What that means is what you call parkour is not what I call parkour. For a long time now I’ve been away from „The Community“, as we used to call ourselves, the word that some older, more experienced traceurs, followers of Arts of Movement, might utter now and then. I’ve been away because we can’t agree, and while I respect your ideas – that’s what my parkour teaches me – many others do not share this mindset, and I don’t take lightly that my ideas are scoffed at by people who I regard inferior. I would rather not be part of something that mocks diversity of mind, and for that reason I stay away as much as possible without cutting myself off completely.

So I’m letting you have your competitions, and every defense you can muster to tell yourselves you are doing it for the right cause, for the betterment of yourselves and the Arts, even though it’s just an excuse to feel like you belong. I’m letting you have your training grounds, where you say you practice your movement when only thing you do, I feel, is happily climb into a cage you built. I’m letting you distort those principles I follow, because I understand. I might be the weak one here, not being able to bend and break the rules. But my rules are good. They are the rules by which virtuous people are made. So I might be the strong one here, not succumbing to the lures of fleeting possessions.

Who can tell? Maybe The Founders. Who can change it? No one. It is thus and thus it shall be, the state of things.

So I’m letting all of you fall, or myself fall, as truth is in the eye of beholder, depending on who watches, who judges. We might even all be falling, only in opposite directions. So fall your way and I will fall my way. But may we meet. May we meet, I hope and wish, in a future where we all are complete persons.

Otherwise the fall would’ve been for nothing.

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