"There are only five basic colors, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be seen" - Sun Tzu As traceurs, we practice an art which is constantly shifting back and forth, to and fro. Parkour is a discipline which affects us on so many levels and in so many ways that there are bound to be separate forces pulling us apart. This is why we must seek balance.  

Sebastien Foucan once stated that, “Without philosophy, action has no meaning.” This is a commentary on the duality of Parkour. There is the mental and the physical, the hard and the soft, the explosive and the flowing, the simplistic and the convoluted. Sounds easy to get lost, doesn’t it? This raises the question, “Well then, what exactly is Parkour?”

This is a question which cannot be simply “answered.” It must be fully contemplated, understood, and dissected. For those of you who have read Stranger in a Strange Land, you must “grok in fullness” the nuances of our discipline to formulate a solution to this query.

At face value, Parkour is traversing an environment with the most efficient movements possible. Sounds simple enough, but attempt this feat, and you soon find that railings, walls, and stairs make much more formidable opponents than first perceived. So in essence, we have gone from, “Let’s go that way”’ to spending hours and days and years, nay, our lives mastering a repertoire of movements to “go that way” with more efficiency and speed. So why bother with all this “malarkey”? Why do tens of thousands of people around the world find it so worthwhile to make this huge investment in becoming a traceur? Do we do this to “go that way?” Partly, the answer to that is the duality inherent in Parkour.

“So, in reality, to get over there from here, now I have to begin to think about life in a different light?” you say? Yes. One must understand the philosophy as well as the movement.

The philosophy of Parkour is related to many different philosophies, but it is Daoism with which our philosophy is the most nearly aligned.
Daoism in a nutshell is dealing with complexity with simplicity, hard with soft. Sound familiar? Daoists (or Taoists) constantly strive to attain “The Way.” Heavily simplified, the principal of “˜The Way” can be synonymous with harmony. Harmony is synonymous with flowing.

Which brings us to why we should care about what Sun Tzu, a brilliant Daoist military strategist has to say.

““Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness”

”To advance irresistibly, push through [the] gaps”

”There are only five notes in the musical scale, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be heard. There are only five basic colors, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be seen” variations of the unorthodox and the orthodox are endless. The unorthodox and the orthodox give rise to each other, like a beginningless circle.”

Replace notes and colors with our basic movements, and these passages from The Art of War by Sun Tzu becomes quite apt to address some of the questions which arise within Parkour. It is filled with duality, just like our discipline.

A double tap wall run, or a level to level cat leap is hard to learn, and at first seems very complex, but with mastery, these moves simply become another of many techniques we use to get to there. The harder we work on that roll, the softer the landing is. The more time we spend drilling kongs, the less time we spend trying to get past that wall. The harder we think about our surroundings, the easier it is to traverse them. The more explosively we move, the more flowing our run becomes. If our movements become simpler, a convoluted environment becomes a much easier puzzle.

Thusly, to strive to become a better traceur, one must strive for balance. Going too far in any direction will get you farther away from your destination than where you began. One cannot simply allow themselves to become a traceur, they must actively work towards their goal.
Now “let’s go that way”.

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Written by Steez   
Monday, 21 November 2005 01:34
Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 22:01