Parkour India’s Take on Parkour Instruction

April 4, 2013 in Articles by indianparkourassociation

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Parkour practitioners in no way claim any ownership or trademark in the act of human movement itself, that is something that has been with us since the dawn of life, and will always be something free. We cannot prevent anyone from going on and trying out the physical abilities that Parkour develops if a person explores and trains by himself, or tries to train and teach the same to others, but in a manner not accepted by the Parkour Community. We cannot prevent anyone from Moving. And this is a free country, and we are guaranteed certain rights and freedoms by our county’s Constitution, and by the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) that our country is a signatory to, so we do not have any right to prevent anyone from carrying out any economic or social activity either.
But Parkour is a physical discipline, an art form, and as such it has certain guidelines and philosophies that are followed by all practitioners. Even though practitioners often have long-drawn arguments over certain semantic differences in Parkour, and over the usage of the terms Parkour, Freerunning and Le Art du Deplacement, practitioners of these disciplines across the board adhere to a broad set of philosophies which are unchanging. This is what makes Parkour what it is, and this, wecan claim to have an unofficial trademark over. So we do take great offense when someone who does not adhere to these philosophies goes out and tries something stupid, and then labels it Parkour, or even Freerunning or Le Art du Deplacement.
Bogus instruction by people teaching random stunts and jumping around in an inappropriate (and often dangerous) fashion and then labeling it Parkour (or Freerunning or Le Art du Deplacement) falls under that category. Bogus instruction by people training others in just about any physical activity in the world including physical fitness drills, and then labeling it Parkour (or Freerunning or Le Art du Deplacement) because no one knows what these terms really mean and what these art forms really are about, also falls under the same category.

It has recently come to our attention that bogus Parkour instruction is flourishing in the country, with existing Martial Arts school chains expanding their line of business to also include ‘Parkour’ as an activity they offer to teach, where their so called Parkour instructors have no business knowing what Parkour is all about, thereby being in no position to teach you Parkour either.
But the problem is that the person going to them under the illusion that he is being taught ‘Parkour’ does not know anything about Parkour either, only having merely heard the term ‘Parkour’ somewhere before going to said class, and the fact that it is something hot, exciting and new. So people offering bogus instruction flourish and thrive on the ignorance of the masses.

Since NO ONE knows ANYTHING about Parkour, but the term ‘Parkour’ is currently the hot new fad and it is very hip (and in some cases profitable) to be associated with, in the near future we see a lot more people from the Martial Arts and Physical Fitness communities jumping onto the bandwagon and expanding their service offerings with similar tags of ‘Parkour Training’ even though they might know zilch about our discipline.

There was an incident recently where one such instructor who also claims to conduct various martial arts classes attended an open public jam of ours, and the Parkour India traceurs present at the jam reported that this so-called instructor could not even manage to do a single pull-up, and sprained his ankle attempting a simple precision a short way into the jam.
This is exactly the sort of thing APK warned about in their Be Careful Who You Learn From[1] article, where someone who clearly has no idea what he is doing should not be instructing others about what he does not know and cannot do.

We have also come across cases with enterprising gym/fitness-club owners passing off a ‘circuit bodyweight or weight training gauntlet’ as ‘Parkour’. They actually also claim it to be the definition of Parkour![2] And the sad part is that people readily lap it up. Circuit training or any other form of physical training as a means to get fit and conditioned for Parkour is a different thing, but calling ‘Fitness Training and Conditioning’ as ‘Parkour’ is a different and outrageous matter altogether.

If you would still like to go out and pay to learn from such people, you are free to do so, Parkour India cannot stop you or get in your way. Only understand that what you are doing is NOT Parkour, you are merely learning stunts and random jumping around from these people. So please do not do that and call it Parkour or even Freerunning. By doing so you will only end up giving a bad name to the actual discipline and the real practitioners. If someone who does not understand the discipline of Parkour takes you to the rooftops and makes you jump across them or off them, it is neither Parkour nor Freerunning. It is a separate discipline altogether. We have a name for that discipline, we call it ‘Stupidity’.
If the same person does not know certain basic fundamentals of human movement (e.g. how to land properly to absorb impact, how to roll perfectly, how to maintain your balance at all times, how not to keep your movements awkward, how to exercise and condition properly before anything else, etc.) tries to make you drill advanced techniques at ground level, or incorrect basic techniques, that is not Parkour or Freerunning either. There is a name for this discipline as well, and it is similar to the discipline of Stupidity. We call this one ‘Recklessness’. If a person jumps onto youtube, picks up a few Moves and Vaults, memorizes their names and how to perform them, and then goes out and teaches you the same, then that isn’t Parkour or Freerunning either, it is again a separate discipline. We have a name for this discipline as well, we call it ‘Ignorance’. Parkour and Freerunning are the disciplines of ‘Human Movement’ not of individual ‘Moves’ or ‘Techniques’.

To the best of our knowledge, the classes run by NOS (the author of this article) in Mumbai are the only real Parkour Classes run by the Parkour community in India as of now.

So what do you do if you want to learn Parkour in a structured manner but do not live in Mumbai, and more specifically, within reach of the western suburbs of Mumbai?

A lot of young people frequently contact Parkour Mumbai stating their desire (albeit foolishly, see Stages of a Traceur) to ‘pursue Parkour as a full-time career’ and mention their desire to move to Mumbai to learn Parkour at the Parkour Mumbai Parkour Classes. In the same vein, Parkour Mumbai also gets a lot of enquiries and requests to start other batches or branches in other parts of the city and country for their classes.

NOS says that you are always welcome to move to Mumbai and enroll in his classes should you want to, but keep this in mind: He does not run these classes on a full time basis. He says, “Look guys, I have two hands and two legs. One body. One mind. And I have only 24 hours in a day, like everyone else, 168 hours a week. Of this I can only afford to spend around 5 hours a week on Parkour. And I certainly do not have the ability to be in multiple places at the same time. So that means these classes that I’m running are the only ones I can afford to run, so I can’t open other batches or branches anywhere else in the city or country. If you still want to shift to Mumbai to come and learn from me, make sure it is not because you want to make Parkour a full time career because I can only teach you part time. What will you do during the remaining portion of the week? Also, I have a long-term orientation in my class, I feel you need to train for atleast a few years and master your conditioning and basics in that time-frame before you are ready to move on, so if you come with a crash-course mindset of learning everything there is to learn from me about Parkour within a week or a month or so, that won’t help you either. Within that period I won’t even be able to get you started. So if you do want to move to Mumbai to learn Parkour, make sure you’re coming here for some reason other than solely to learn Parkour, so you can also attend our classes that way, which will lead to less heart-ache on your part. Ironic as it may sound, there are no shortcuts to learning Parkour.

At this point, if you still want to learn Parkour in a structured environment, but insist on learning it from a teacher, there is not much we can do to help you, until more and more senior Parkour India practitioners around the country start evolving in their own training and transitioning into teaching others formally as well. But that could take a while. Until then, we would recommend going through all the articles on this website about training resources for beginners, and also making full use of our community forums to seek guidance from older and experienced members who have come before you and bring a vast wealth of knowledge and experience to informally guide newcomers to become better traceurs.

We will also maintain an updated list on this website of all Parkour Trainers or Classes that the Parkour community in India recognizes so that as and when new classes start anywhere in the country, you will know about them.

If you still insist on learning Parkour in a class, these are some broad guidelines we lay down once again for your convenience when you look for a potential Parkour instructor:

APK Guidelines:[1]

1) Ask lots of questions about the art, the instructor and the instructor’s history. Ask how they started training, where they started, when they started, and who they’ve trained with. Then go home and do some research, see if you can find any record of their posts online or articles they’ve written. Try to track down the people they mentioned and contact them to see if they’re legit. A good teacher will have made a mark in the community.

2) Ask to watch a class before you commit to anything. A good instructor will be confident in their classes, and should have no problem letting you watch, or even take part in a class before you sign or pay anything.

3) Do your own research before hand – find out what a good landing looks and sounds like. Find out what a good roll looks like. Then when you watch the class, make sure the instructor demonstrates some techniques and watch for their level of control. If their rolls are sloppy, if their landings are loud, if they don’t have any flow, stay away. The instructor is not experienced enough.

The Parkour Generations and Majestic-Force (formerly known as Yamakasi) ADAPT Certification requirements of Parkour Instructors:[3]
(Please note – even if an instructor does not/cannot go out and obtain an ADAPT certification (it isn’t even mandatory), it doesn’t mean any of their certification’s expectations below do not apply to every single person out there claiming to teach Parkour.)

What is expected of an Instructor?
The ADAPT qualifications are the standard qualifications an individual must possess before he or she is capable of teaching the fundamental principles, methods and movements of Parkour, either in a class format or on a one-to-one basis.
An ADAPT instructor has to be well-rounded and competent in all aspects of the discipline: physically strong and durable, fit, healthy, and technically sound in all areas. He or she must also be capable of leading classes, both planned and unplanned, and well-versed in basic anatomy and physiology. The ability to lead a thorough warm-up in preparation for a training session is essential, plus he or she must possess good knowledge of how to develop the physical and mental attributes required of a traceur.
It is also expected of an ADAPT Instructor that he or she understands the necessity of a balanced and healthy diet, and the importance of good nutrition as essential support for sustained training.
The ADAPT Instructor must display self-discipline and a desire for self-improvement at all times, must practice regularly and demonstrate individual strength of character. It is not enough to be able to showcase good movement skills and be physically strong. The candidate must also be a capable and committed teacher; approachable and helpful to all who wish to learn; polite, courteous and attentive to the students at all times.

In summary, an ADAPT Instructor is expected to have sound knowledge of:
* Technique
* Physical conditioning exercises
* Coaching and communication skills
* Warm-up & cool-down before and after training
* Basic anatomy and physiology
* What constitutes a healthy diet
* Injury prevention and management
* First Aid

A Level One candidate must have been training regularly and thoroughly in Parkour for at least two years to be eligible to attempt the ADAPT qualification Program.

A Level One Instructor must have basic knowledge in the following areas:
* Definition, history and principles of Parkour
* Parkour terminology
* Parkour ability
* Body management: stretching, preparation, maintenance
* Teaching skills and awareness of best practice standards
* Basic injury management and rehabilitation knowledge
* Available resources

NOS has a handy little pop quiz to guage how much people know about Parkour, going by point number 1 listed in the APK guidelines. This is not to test in-depth knowledge of the person in Parkour, but just skims the surface.
So if the person fails at even a single question – BEWARE! And start running in the opposite direction. He does not know anything about Parkour, and is certainly not fit to begin instructing others in it.
(Please note – any traceur worth his salt knows the answers to all these questions. Especially for any traceur who wants to charge people to teach Parkour, it is his business to know the answers to these basic questions, or he has no business asking for money to teach Parkour to anyone simply because he does not know anything about it himself.)
(Also please do everyone a favor and do NOT conduct this interview ONLINE. You are doing this to test the person’s knowledge in Parkour, not to test his google skills.)

1) What can you tell me about Parkour, in your own words. What do you know about it?

1.1) Is there any difference between Parkour and Freerunning?

1.2) If so, then what is the difference between Parkour and Freerunning? If not, then disregard this question.

2) Who invented Parkour?

3) So who invented Freerunning?

4) So what the heck is this Le Art du Deplacement thingy then?

5) What are people who practice parkour called?

5.1) And what are female Parkour practitioners called?

6) Who is the original traceur, who did this thing years before the term Parkour and its founder(s) were ever even born?

7) What moves are available in Parkour/Freerunning? What moves do you know/can you perform? What is your progression for teaching moves in your class/how and at what level do you teach what set of moves in your class?
(the answer to all these questions is “Parkour is the art of ‘Movement’, not individual ‘Moves’. If the person by any chance starts spouting off names of moves, smack him in the face and then run in the opposite direction, and never see him about Parkour/Freerunning again. He is an ignorant and arrogant newbie himself.)

8) Name the who’s who of the international Parkour/Freerunning world.

9) Have you heard of UrbanFreeFlow?

10) Could you tell me more about them?

11) What are Parkour Rio famous for?

12) Is there any competition in Parkour/What is your take on competition in Parkour?

13) Can you name the who’s who of the Indian Parkour community?

14) What are the Basic Building Blocks in Parkour? The Basic techniques? The starting point in the training of any aspiring traceur?
(the answers to questions 7 and 14 are different from each other. and if a person gets question 7 wrong, he will automatically be wrong in his answer for question 14 as well. that’s all I will say about this matter.)

We will not give you the answers to any of these questions over here. Answers to most can easily be found on other places on this website, and the answer to every single question can easily be found on the internet with a little dedicated research. Our reason for not putting up answers here is that we do not want your potential interviewees getting wise to your trick, and then looking this list up for all questions and their corresponding answers and memorizing them to pass off as genuine even if they might not be such. Like we mention above, these questions just skim the surface of a traceur’s Parkour knowledge, and are not a guarantor of in-depth knowledge of the discipline. If someone memorizes the answers to all these questions, that still does not guarantee that he knows more about this discipline, enough to teach someone. But it is still a good starting point nevertheless for you to gauge a potential instructor.

Live Free. Train Hard. And Don’t Get Duped.
Parkour for life.

- NOS on Jul 29, 2010 

This article was written by Parkour Mumbai Reproduced here with permission.

References:
1 ^ a b American Parkour – Be Careful Who You Learn From
^ Parkour Mumbai Forums – pk in today’s asian age
^ ADAPT Requirements