Six years ago we started what became the Parkour VIsions program out of a crossfit box, for the most part the crossfit clientele and the parkour clientele didn’t overlap but occasionally we would get one or two of the crossfitters to come and try the parkour class. We frequently found they had no ability to go slow, once we got to the running through the obstacles part the crossfitters would take off like a bat out of hell and smack themselves all over the course.
Eventually we figured out ways to work with crossfitters specifically and not have that problem but it was an interesting gap in their training they spent so much time trying to do movements as fast as possible that they had forgotten or never learned how to approach something slowly. This probably not the best approach to learning most of the movement in crossfit but in parkour its is even more dangerous.
Another interesting gap we found was that many crossfitters couldn’t swing, if you put them on a bar and asked them to swing back and forward the would get stuck. The crossfit kipping patern was so ingrained that it was difficult to figure out anything else.
I don’t mean to pick on crossfitters we all have our blind spots. Over the last year I have been taking dance lessons when ever I could find the time, relative to dancers I have real problem with small movements, I’d watch a step try to replicate it and I have covered twice as much space, this was disconcerting for some of my dance partners. Parkour is very much power focused as generally trained, the subtle basics of Dance are a new challenge.
One of the interesting things I have noticed in training dance was how different the language of cues was, generally a movement is shown and an emotional state was asked to be invoked or something vizualised at first this bothered me because it felt woo woo and lacking in concreteness, I wanted to be told push your knees out on the landing, or chest up, these are the type of cues we tend to use in parkour.
What I have come to realize is that certain movements and muscle groups respond well to concrete cues and others do not. If my dance teacher was to try to tell me to external rotate at the hip while transferring weight to that foot, to extend the knee just short of hyperextension do deviate from neutral spine by 5 degrees and rotate my scapula 16 degrees and my neck 15 it would be a disaster, the brain just can process that many verbal cues and its impossible to be precise enough with the timing. These problems can arise in a jump to but generally the novel information required in a given parkour movement is lower then in dance, there are fewer specific novel articulation of the body. Parkour relies more on gross motor patterns and big muscles which are easily controlled through direct cues.
Through dance I expose my weaknesses in controlled articulation of each body part in picking up novel movement patterns and in learning to communicate with my nervous system in different way and by extension to take that to my students.
Without emptying my cup and absorbing this new information I might never have seen this.
My challenge to you today is to go expose yourself to something new something that will open new connections and might catch a weakness or blind spot you didn’t know your training had developed.
Inspiration today some beautiful dance.