While watching a new training video this morning I realized something: Parkour and Freerunning are slower. Literally, practitioners are moving slower.
For reference, here is the video I watched, the newest one from Storror Blog.
Maybe it’s just me but I was struck by how…lazy the movements seemed. Lazy might be a strong term as the movements were still well-controlled and of decent size and amplitude, but it all looked nonchalant, almost kind of sluggish. The run-ups didn’t have much speed, the set-ups and finishes were flowing yet slow.
Compare that to this mid-1990’s video of the Lisses practitioners training for the camera.
The movements are definitely rough (some of the rolls made me look away and cringe) but they all have an edge of urgency. They look like they want to get somewhere, get over the obstacle as fast as possible and just keep moving. Sometimes it comes across as almost jerky and stilted but you can sense the aggression in each step.
Over the years the idea of flow and fluidity – the aesthetic look of the movement – has taken greater hold in practitioners’ minds. It’s gotten to the point, I would argue, that the flow is not a by-product of controlled, FAST movement, but instead the desired goal from the beginning, necessitating a slowdown of all movements in order to accomplish the visual look.
In short, many of us (me included) have lost our sense of URGENCY, of moving fast and reacting on instinct. In wanting to look effortless we’ve toned down the speed and increased the size of singular or short combination runs. Honestly, how many practitioners do you see nowadays that legitimately sprint between obstacles? Mostly I see that weird, half-speed, long stride with straight, swinging arms, which is good for a rapid series of walls or rails but over any length of flat ground looks like a Minecraft character running.
This shift is not a bad thing, just different. The emphasis has changed. I think it’d be worthwhile though to take note of your training style next time you’re out. Do you train in a relaxed, “cool” way, or in a rapid, “urgent” way?