Fractured Philosophies

APK Member BobT wrote the following in a recent thread about philosophy of parkour.

I'd like to share my thoughts on communities and how activities evolve. Back when I was practicing Tang Soo Do, I was in a school that was part of the Moo Duk Kwan federation.  We were instructed (for the most part) according to the teachings of this school.  The teaching were written up by the Grand Master of the federation, Hwang Kee.  It was his federation, he wrote the book and he got to say what Tang Soo Do is. If you're studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the the Gracie Clan gets to say what it's all about - JKD, read Bruce's book.

But let's look at that further...

Tang Soo Do was born out of Soo Bahk Do when Hwang Kee decided to teach his own interpretations on that martial art.  BJJ came from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu which had already fractured into serveral schools. JKD came from Bruce Lee's views on Kung-Fu and such.

Institutions fracture - it's life (it's actually sociology which has shown over and over that once a community reaches a certain size it's almost impossible for it to remain cohesive in ideaology and that trying to enforce cohesion ultimately limits growth).  Going back to my own training in Tang Soo Do, we were taught the stances and forms as perscribed by Hwang Kee, but when it came to sparring, we also got a mix of Aikido, and Kempo Karate.  Why?  Because our instructors personal views on Tang Soo Do were that Tang Soo Do was impractical for real fighting.

Parkour will always be about movement. "Be useful" will probably be a central tenant to Parkour in anyones teaching.  But the teaching of Parkour, from how encompassing it's philosophy is to subtle differences in it's movements and thier application will differ depending on who's doing the teaching.

Humans are meant to move.  They're also meant to think, imagine and create.  The same creativity that gave us Parkour will also fracture Parkour.  As certain individuals reach a high level of competency in Parkour they are naturally going to want to add thier own viewpoints and biases.  This should be OK - this is how sports, philosophies, etc. grow.  Do I feel cheated that my MA instructors deviated from Hwang Kee's teaching?  No - not then and not looking back on it now.  Do I feel cheated that I'm learning a lot from the tribe and not directly from David Belle?  No.

As a community we should always be careful about who's claiming to be an expert and try to reasonably evaluate thier contributions, but to shun any words that don't issue from David Belle is irrational.  DB gave us a taste of his vision.  If we carry forward following the central tenants of that vision, then we are doing Parkour, even if my Parkour differs from your Parkour.

People with conviction will always butt heads over details, it's natural.  The best way to preserve Parkour is to detach a little and accept these academic discussions with an open mind.  There wil always be lively discussions about rolls and other movements.  I'm no expert (I'm hardly a novice), but I can tell you nobody's right.  When you talk about a movement and it's application to an individual, there will be specifics about the person's height, weight, strength, flexibility, limb-proportions and gender that will determine the 'ideal' technique.
This applies to philosophy as well.  The most useful thing I do everyday is raising my kids - movement will never replace that.

Thanks for sharing BobT!
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Written by Brian Reber Belida   
Thursday, 12 July 2007 15:21
Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 22:04