When you first start training for parkour/freerunning, it is not uncommon to feel awkward, embarrassed, and self-conscious. And that is only reasonable, for training the very basic movements makes you appear childish and unimpressive to say the least. But it's necessary to realize that every parkour practitioner (aka traceur) has been there. From the founder of parkour David Belle, to that of freerunning Sébastien Foucan, to any other admired professional traceur. It is inevitable to pass through this awkward stage in order to climb the skill tree and unlock the more advanced skills that lie ahead.
The real beauty of practicing parkour is achieved after you master these basics and begin to combine them and implement them into your sessions as you reach a state of control, harmony, and precision in your movement, driven by your knowledge of the various moves which you had been training extensively. This "Zen" state of movement is known among traceurs as flow.
When I first experienced flow, that’s when I truly fell in love with parkour. What I personally experienced was a feeling of weightlessness and efficiency, as if I was carried by the wind instead of using my legs to run. I felt almost no effort in executing moves and a high level of concentration that I'd never experienced before. It was, in a way, a spiritual experience.
It's important to understand that I'm not addressing something that is ambiguous or supernatural when I talk about flow.
Simply put: You experience flow when you successively execute several parkour moves with high levels of efficiency and control, transitioning between them as swiftly and gracefully as possible, so that you appear to "flow" effortlessly between obstacles. You can feel flow with even the most basic moves; a parkour roll, a kong vault, a wall run, even a safety vault! The only prerequisite is to practice the moves more times than you can count and, perhaps more importantly, to understand how and why the move works, what every muscle is supposed to be doing, and how your body should be positioned with respect to the space around it. Every muscle in your body must know its role in a move if that move is to be executed with perfection.
Achieving flow in training is a goal not exclusive to parkour/freerunning, even though the term is not used as much outside this area. Every athlete aspires to execute his/her movements with the highest levels of effectiveness and precision while using up as low of their energy as possible for each move. Be it basketball, football, bodybuilding, or running, flow is a state of movement that every experienced athlete has achieved, and presently aim to achieve in their strive towards perfection.
May the flow be with you.
Hussein Yassine, 21, has been practicing parkour as a hobby since the age of 15. He also runs the gaming and technology website TecBuffer.com, where he follows and discusses the latest news and trends in these fields.