King of Qin: I have just come to a realization! This scroll by Broken Sword contains no secrets of his swordsmanship. What this reveals is his highest ideal. In the first state, man and sword become one and each other. Here, even a blade of grass can be used as a lethal weapon. In the next stage, the sword resides not in the hand but in the heart. Even without a weapon, the warrior can slay his enemy from a hundred paces. But the ultimate ideal is when the sword disappears altogether. The warrior embraces all around him. The desire to kill no longer exists. Only peace remains.
What is the ultimate goal or ideal of Parkour? We often speak in catch phrases and mottoes such as, “Be strong to be useful” and “To be and to last.” But really, what do they mean, what is the point of all the running and jumping, conditioning and mental stress? Why do we bother with such a seemingly odd thing as purposely seeking out hard obstacles? Though I think the idea will morph slightly from person to person, I think the ultimate ideal is something like the quote from the King…to find peace.
Think of it this way, using the three stages of a swordsman as an example. In the first stage, the practitioner learns the physical elements of the discipline. He becomes skilled in precision jumps, climb-ups, and all the other technical skills of movement. Even with a single box or rail he can create endless challenges and express his abilities. The mind is a whirlwind of activity and training is constant and highly varied.
In the second stage the discipline moves inward. He can imagine lines of movement without even seeing the obstacles, visualize the outcomes and test the variables. With barely a thought he can overcome fear. His mind thinks feverishly in terms of abstractions such as what true practicing is or the difference between one style and another. Movement possibilities are found in an empty room and training is structured, hard set.
The final stage is when the movements become automatic. Individual names of techniques no longer apply as everything becomes seamless. Explanations of why or how he does what he does become difficult and vague. Training becomes sporadic, without true rhyme. The link between what the mind imagines and the body can create is complete. Only peace remains.
This is what I strive for in my own training, though I know that actively seeking it makes it all the harder to find. It’s something that you simply realize one day, an epiphany or enlightenment moment. I’ve had flashes of the third stage, though it didn’t last long, where it felt like everything was good and all was at peace. It’s different from the idea of “flow” in PK/FR which I think better describes mind/body connection while actively moving or training. The state of peace I’m imagining would apply even when you’re standing still – a comfortable knowing that you could act at a moment’s notice in whatever way you wanted.
What do you think, is this “ultimate ideal” something true of Parkour, the same as a martial artist or swordsman? If so, how would you describe the ultimate ideal?