In March 2011, I moved to France to work with David Belle. I spent countless hours with him over the next 3 years walking the streets of Lisses, talking about life, and discussing Parkour, its history and David’s vision of and for the discipline of Parkour. In that time, my perception and understanding of Parkour radically changed. I went from focusing on techniques and seeing them as the centerpiece of Parkour to seeing the discipline from a larger focus the way I felt David saw it and expressed it through his movement and words.
In November 2012, when I returned from the majority of my time in France, I organized a training group to follow the original Parkour way as I understood it from David. Below is a list of ideas I composed and sent to those who agreed to join me in my training. These are the ideas that I felt emanated from my understanding of Parkour and would direct and guide the training we all undertook together. These are ideas are not complete, and they do not paint a full picture of Parkour. However, even as I read them today, they remind me of the stories and principles David taught me about Parkour.
I publish this here for your benefit in the hopes that you can some type of insight into Parkour by David Belle and way he trained, at least in as much as I understood his way.
Training Thoughts by Adam Dunlap
- In a phrase, the training is a search for true strength.
- A training regime that gets its benefits more from consistency and variety than difficulty. But with the training comes the difficulty.
- It’s a search and it will stay that way. We have models, but we don’t know what we’ll find.
- We’re looking for completeness.
- The spirit you carry into the training is the most important aspect of the training. Developing that spirit is the development of true strength.
- Discover and develop the two sides of you. One side is the warrior side of you that is ready to overcome any obstacle and fight any fight if it must. Learn to be able to turn on that warrior side at any time no matter how tired or unprepared you are. The other side of you is your real self that exists in a peaceful world with no obstacles. It’s kind, gentle, and humble. Learn to understand this side of you and embody it at all times except when the warrior side is needed. These two sides are opposites of each other and also reflections of each other. They are both equally important.
- You are only as prepared as you are when you are completely not prepared.
- Humility is as important as ability. Both are necessary.
- A man is his word. When you speak, you do. If you don’t know, then you shouldn’t speak.
- In life we progress by having goals. Without goals we have no direction.
- Joy and excitement should be the center of all action.
- The mind and the body must be at the same level. Bringing the mind and body into a unity of understanding is paramount to allow for your full potential to be realized.
- The mind always fails before the body.
- Life exists in the present, not in the past or future. You learn the most from the experience in the moment when you focus on the moment.
- We never stop, we always advance. All life requires advancing. To stop is the end.
My observations have led me to make this delineal observation: the original Parkour method was about spirit -the contemporary Parkour method is about technique. I think both of these are awesome in their own right. Perhaps thinking about the difference will help you find the path you want to follow.