What’s new

This project has a new name: Movers Mindset.

After months of thought and preparation, we’re relaunching with a new name. We’ve kept everything we felt is useful, and added a few new bits. In the coming weeks, with posts like this one, I will unpack some of the changes.

When someone takes the time to personally connect — takes the time to talk, to put their phone down, to reach out “out of the blue”, to arrange for a shared meal, to ask ‘How are you?’ as an invitation to shared understanding — those are people and interactions with real value.

So here’s my promise when we publish content, or when I appear in your ears:

The podcasts I’m creating, and the things we’re publishing, will have real value. They will be useful to you. They will make you think, or make you see, or make you feel. They will inspire you, or help you understand, or lead you to new questions.

Questions? Suggestions? …there’s a form on the About page.

011 – Interview with Ševo Saša

WAIT! If you want to read the entire transcript as you listen, GO TO THE FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT FIRST and then start the media player from there.

Episode Summary

Ševo Saša is best-known as an amazing and creative mover, and the founder of the Skochypstiks clothing line. In this interview he shares the story of his Parkour beginnings after the collapse of Yugoslavia, and his motivation for overcoming a devastating injury in his youth. Sasa’s love of people and profound discipline have enabled him to thrive amidst the cycles of life, and have lead him to tremendous personal growth.

References

On staying motivated

Craig: I see you many places and you’re doing a lot of things and you’re always traveling and teaching, and obviously training as well. There are only, when I last checked, 24 hours in every day. How do you manage to find the motivation [00:16:30] to put something that’s actually useful and meaningful into your time? You, like “I have a free day,” how do you get motivated to fill that day with something meaningful and not end up back in front of the PlayStation 1?

Sasa: Because I don’t have a PlayStation 1 anymore.

Craig: Oh I knew, as soon as I said it I was like…

Sasa: Yes, I will definitely do that Driver and Colin McRae Rally all over again. No, I’m joking. I didn’t play games actually until that point. Motivation, [00:17:00] it’s an interesting question all the time because we fight in different ways against this. I think how I am here so long is that everything changes constantly, always new things. I’m not getting stuck with that, “I need to do this all the time like that or like that.” My training evolves so much from the beginning until now, that [00:17:30] when I look back I just cannot compare that person with this person kind of. Yes, in some things.

Craig: Right, you can hardly recognize yourself when you …

Sasa: Yes, like movement wise and training wise, because the first two years I cannot say that was training, was just learning about the discipline.

Craig: Learning about some physical abilities of your body.

Sasa: Yes, like learning about what I saw in that video. Then you meet people, and then I had completely new two, [00:18:00] three years doing something else. It was a completely new life again, because of new people. Actually first people, and then sharing with them what I have what they have, it was amazing. Then that happened in another city, and then I moved again. In that first small city, and then second biggest city in Serbia it’s Novi Sad so I stayed there for a couple of years. I trained there with people … I consider that was [00:18:30] the moment where I develop my Parkour. Where I actually started training, sharing, doing community stuff, doing challenges together. Growing up in Parkour, that’s like kind of my childhood, but I had first Parkour friends, just talk about Parkour all the time. How we solve this problem, how we do this, how we do that.

Craig: What are we doing next, right.

Sasa: I didn’t have any other choice, I had actually a work, because I moved out of the city, I needed money [00:19:00] to pay apartment. I did the regular work for 7, 8 hours per day, and then I did training. There was nothing else. You earn money for life, and then you train.

Craig: Then you sleep and then you start over.

Sasa: Yes. Luckily I had this work from beginning of my training. The moment I start training I had the work, so I get in that mindset that I didn’t have that excuse that when I start working, “Oh, I can’t train anymore.” Because, that [00:19:30] happened from beginning.

Craig: More like you had to squeeze the work in around the training. I sleep, I eat, I train and then [crosstalk 00:19:37] work.

Sasa: Yes, then you sacrifice everything else. There was no going out with the friends every weekend, getting drunk, doing whatever, whatever. Every time I go I finish work, I go train or I teach and I go sleep and then all over again. I wasn’t– I never was [00:20:00] thinking about that I’m actually sacrificing something you know. For me that was what I want to do. For me it was much more fun to go for, if I work first or second shift for example. If I work first shift, afternoon I can train with my friends because they were all lazy to get up in the morning at 3:00 in the morning. Then I get this benefit when I’d work afternoon. I’d get up early, I have breakfast, I go train by myself and that’s where [00:20:30] you combine these two trainings, training by yourself for two, three years. When you train in the morning, every second week, and training afternoon with your friends.

Combining two, these different styles, into one, it’s very magic happen. Because then I actually get to meet myself and to learn more about myself in that period. That I think where was the good base of [00:21:00] my understanding Parkour, and the discipline and the training. That’s how I get to discipline myself. If you work afternoon you don’t get to sleep until 10:00 and then chill a little bit and go to work. No, I get up every morning, I train, I go for work. When you can discipline yourself just by falling in love with movement, if you love something so [00:21:30] bad you can do whatever you want. For me, that love for this has been, was the key from the beginning. If I didn’t fall in love that never will happen. From there, I choose … I mean that I had… 21, 22… to move from Novi Sad, from Serbia to Croatia.

That was [00:22:00] a huge step, and then I go there and I open a class with Americo, my friend from Croatia, and that was another– completely another level. Completely new city, new obstacles, new people. I will say, first new people and then new obstacles, because it’s much more important, and completely new ideas. I get from one kind of [00:22:30] sample, or one idea for Parkour in Serbia, however it’s close, we all think differently. These guys one idea, these guys have another idea, so when you’re dropped in this kind of training you evolve so much. You learn so much just by changing environments.

Craig: You can get exposed to those fresh ideas right?

Sasa: Yes, just fresh environments is all. I was staying three years in Zagreblearning a lot from these people, and also [00:23:00] by myself. That’s where the pirate ship actually happened. The pirate ship happened just like two weeks or one week before I get VISA for America. That was 2014, and then in 2014 … I’m going to say that was the kind of, the big turn again. Every kind of three years something happened in my life, [00:23:30] accidentally. Probably not accidentally, but something really big change happened and that is important kind of checkpoints why …

Craig: Life cycles.

Sasa: Yes, why I am so long here.

What are you doing?

If you’ve ever played (or trained) in public, someone has asked you this question.

I’m not talking about the strange birds who shout things like, “Can you do a back flip?!” or “Get down from there!”. And I’m not talking about the alligators who get mad or try to chase you away.

I’m talking about the average, every-day people who notice what you are doing, and are genuinely interested in what you are doing.

How do you answer their question, “What are you doing?”

Posts which are part of the “What are you doing?” project are all tagged with What are you doing?

010 – Interview with Mat Poprocki

WAIT! If you want to read the entire transcript as you listen, GO TO THE FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT FIRST and then start the media player from there.

Episode Summary

Mat Poprocki does what he loves. Formally a visual artist, he is now a movement artist who likes to play and overcome obstacles. He discusses the challenges he’s faced and how he rediscovered his artistic expression through Parkour.

On being just a normal person

Craig: Mat, I know you don’t want me to put on a pedestal, but I want to sort of drag you out a little bit further. A lot of the things that you have described, you’ve left out some of the details of the challenges that you really went through, and things were much more difficult than they sound.

I want to just sort of put you on the spot a little bit to get you to explain why you believe that you’re not special. Why do you believe [00:23:30] that this is just a regular way to live?

Mat: Yeah, that’s the thing. Sometimes I think to myself that I’m just normal. That I’m just your average guy. A lot of these things that I do isn’t something that is a supernatural feat. That I have something really super special that somebody can’t have themselves. I see everything I do as what an average [00:24:00] human can do. We go through life, and we have negative things happen to us. This is all normal.

Craig: Right.

Mat: We all get this opportunity to do this and see the world like this and be able to respond in this way. So once I started to do this, then my life transformed in all different ways then I possibly could [00:24:30] imagine. So when people who know me, different family members or friends that I’ve known for years, they think, “Oh wow, well Mat can do it, but I can’t do it.” You know?

You could totally do it. It’s completely possible to do it. I mean I don’t feel like what I did was too special, but maybe it might have been just making the right decision, which is definitely hard, but it’s completely possible.

[00:25:00] So I have my doubts as well. As an average person, I think “Man, there are so many other people that are talented than me.” And I see them in my life. They come to the gym. They can do awesome tricks that I can’t do. But the thing is that I keep on going anyways. Instead of comparing myself [00:25:30] to other people, I see everybody else is on a different path in their life.

We’re all in different stages. We’re all learning different lessons, and somebody might be very talented at one thing, and somebody might be very talented at another. So what I do, is I concentrate on the things that I’m talented, and I’m good at. I might not be the most talented athlete. I might not be on the Red Bull Art of Motion.

Craig: Right, or the best business person, or the best family guy, whatever.

Mat: [00:26:00] Yeah, but I wake up, and I do what I love. That overrides and overpowers where I lack in different skills. My love and my creativity brings me out of that. So I see myself as a very average, regular person, but since I’m doing what I love, and I believe in what I’m doing, that I can go on through my life and seemingly do these very impressive things. I [00:26:30] also believe anybody else can do this too. All you need is some challenges and a good vision.

Craig: A focused mindset.

Mat: Yeah, a good pair of glasses.

What else would you like to share?

Do and Jutsu in Parkour

When I asked for the difference between judo and jujutsu to be explained to me, my sensei used to bring me the mountain metaphor. I try to remember it and write it down.

For my teacher the martial art is like a mountain and the journey (life) leads us to the summit. But like a real mountain, one face is rocky and the other hilly, one cold side, the other sunny. When you are preparing for ascension, from the bottom, you can have an overview and decide how you want to climb: by the quickest and most direct route or by the slowest and sweetest path. It is at this stage that, in fact, we decide what our goal is: we want to enjoy the view and learn something about the local flora and fauna or do we prefer to acquire techniques that allow us to reach the top even in the most adverse conditions?

And here we are at the heart of the matter, jutsu means method, technique (1), its objective is explicitly functional. On the other hand, the end of do , which means path, path (1), is to reach a certain level of introspection, a profound experience of reality. (2)

In nineteenth-century Japan, with the samurai era at sunset, culture changed and technology rendered traditional fighting arts obsolete in one way or another. However, people wanted to continue to practice martial arts but had to shift their attention: this new generation chose self-improvement and spiritual upliftment as its main purpose. (2) After this change of goal resulted in a restructuring, more or less marked, the technical baggage of the disciplines that, in fact, no longer had effectiveness as a priority.

We come, finally, to the Parkour. I believe that our discipline is in a privileged position compared to the Japanese martial arts. The jutsu of parkour, in fact, does not consist of a series of techniques to dislocate the joints or to decapitate the adversaries, but in a general system to overcome the obstacles of the environment that is crossed. It is therefore evident that the jutsu of parkour can be applied in its most utilitarian form without having to fall short of its ethical principles (or without incurring serious legal consequences). Practicing jutsu means, for me, tracing paths in continuity from a starting point to a pre-established arrival point, paying attention:

  • To apply the right series of movements (not to waste energy or time)
  • All ‘harmony of movements that follow each other (because the fluidity of the succession of muscular tension derives the effectiveness of a series of movements)
  • The silence of impacts (because “no sound, not shock”)

And the do ? Well, the most spiritual side of parkour lies in overcoming one’s mental limitations, as well as in the continuous strengthening of one’s own will to progress. Working on do in parkour, for me, is:

  • Carrying out particularly painstaking conditioning exercises (from the physical point of view, but above all the mental one) that I set (to temper my willpower)
  • Perform single risky movements, that is, motilemente difficult and potentially dangerous (to develop concentration and lucidity in moments of stress)
  • Refine the techniques (to respond to an aesthetic and functional sense)

It is good to remember, however, that there is a common basis for the two practices: physical conditioning. Neither the justu nor the do can express themselves if the body is not ready to face the obstacles.

On the other hand, there are some specific consequences of the two training methods. Training jutsu leads to greater adaptability, a high capacity for improvisation as well as the possibility of seeing the city as one full of possibilities and not as a series of watertight environments and obligatory passages. On the other hand, developing the do refines the precision and control and the possibility of “unlocking” passages deemed unimaginable.

We return for a moment to Japan: considering the jutsu as a functional modality and the do linked more to reason to engage in combat, we realize that very few could harmonize the two components . These rare cases do not justify the belief that this was the norm or that, from the historical point of view, jutsu was identical to the do of high ethical purposes. (3)

Parkour’s luck is right here: the do and the jutsu of the parkour are not as difficult to integrate as those in the Japanese fighting arts. It is possible, for us, to develop the two things together: we rely on do to develop and give meaning to a track and tracing out of overly specialized or aesthetic research.

Note:

  1. From Wikipedia
  2. From Do vs Jutsu, Jeff Brooks
  3. From the ancient martial arts, Ratti Westbrook

Is there a story you would like to share?

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

I was hesitating to drop this personal story. I am always aware I could hurt someone’s feelings or so. But I think each reason for practise is personal. Some need to prove something to the self. The fact is, we all interact on totally different levels.

When I started squatting, it was after 9 years in Parkour and straight after separation with my ex-girlfriend. I will save you the story about that relationship, I will tell just “this is how you learn to back someone”.

When I went squatting, it was to extend philosophy of “impossible”. I don’t know many people in here I think, hardly anyone knew me before my transformation. The weakest, with curled back, glasses, diction disfunctions, child of an alcoholic. I didn’t have friends. I wasn’t “cool”. I was drawing for whole days, knowing I can afford hardly anything. Here, in Poland, we have german prices and ukrainian salaries. I was escaping home. I was sad. More books I read, more aware of something wrong around I was.

My first pk team… I loved guys for the passion. At some point there were about 22 of us. But nor for long. Lack of time (“I need to go for a beer!”), energy (“but I like smoking!”), knowledge (“my back used to be like this for my entire life!”) made us fall apart. Then we created first ever polish sports club that treated about Parkour.

And here I am getting towards important things.

Lack of any knowledge and any older practitioners made people that jump a bit further think they are better than anyone. I am doing this for 12 years now. I used to play basketball before. I had to become stronger, more endurant, more jumpy. I started Parkour trainings, because I have learned that is training method that could improve any skills. Other, non-sportive skills were waiting for their order at that point.

I got supported from Parkour Generations. Some say they wanted to use me. Some say I was fit for this crew. The fact is, while my other colleagues were like “come on , just jump”, they were happy to give me tasks, put some responsibility on me, finally I git involved as a coach, when we realised I can explain, show, break other person fear. For me, who comes from total darkness, it is relatively easy. In 2013 Adapt was hard I have heard. I missed 0.04% to get 100%.

Squatting was real school. I knew who I am. That time I wanted to learn. I knew there are people who already don’t want to deal with money anymore. We built from what we found. Ate what we got. Helped local communities. Involved many people in different activities. We turned some homeless guys into serious artists and any other kind of activists. After 5 months I found I am on constant holiday, that was time to get back and help my mom. During ghat 5 months I did 2 big workshops in Poland. That’s how my country learned there is someone who actually can push stuff forward.

Unfortunatelly, after coming back many people were like “who da fuck you think you are?”. This is how I got separated from the scene I had built. Biggest gatherings, shows, tv interviews, but never any dirty business – no shit ads, promoting any organisations or activities I wouldn’t agree with. When I found what honesty actually is, I started transforming – my back got straight, shoulders strong, my belly went back, even my sight got improved. I got rid of most of toxic behaviours and stopped being where there are still present (yep, that includes my closest family).

I knew I am not going to force and push between ones that haven’t experienced what I did. I seem crazy for many. Regardless, I run my own academy, set from A to Z by myself. I still keep high standard and I often see people are not ready for this, but ones that are, come back stronger, more confident, they get healthy in less than two months! All of them – rich, poor, kids, adults, sportives and non-sportives. I teach performers and actors. I run school classes now.

I was opposed to polish federation, as competition was “the only” to be presented. And there is about 5 fairly working academies around my country. Now I got that nice feeling when that association (I honestly don’t know if it is official now) got opposed fig. We are all growing up and see easy ways are to trap us.

By all this I am trying to say, Pakour is way more than just a performance. I know we tried to promote it as a sport (which is a huge promotion from ‘spiritual’ ones), but for me, despite I can fairly call myself “an expert”, term “training method” suits better. We can improve literally anything this way. And I proved you can survive, create and have fun without sacrificing yourself. So far none of “big sports organisations” succeed. Examples? Motor sports – ads of energy drinks and ciggies. Football? Everything that is bad. The most fair disciplines about advertising are lifting competitions, as performers “don’t do anything spectacular”, and we live in world of constant show and instant gratification.

I see ones defending Montpellier show, I can hear voices about “progression”. From my perspective, it is like we were trying to exchange one illness for other. We are here to encourage each other, not to prove that “I am the best”. Noone is! How would we compare? What are the standards? Better start conditions? Cleaner life? Longer legs? Power of the worldwide community lies in unity and different skills of different people. I have passed stunt school. My notes were so high I got into stunt crew instantly. I see no reason to tun around screaming “I an the best!”. That is what you supposed to hear from your students, you know.

I think our miscommunication and lack of trust comes from lack of specific experiences. I did everything I could to see if I can fully trust myself and what are situations Parkour would be really useful. You’d need to see me getting squats, without using any help, any tools, in the middle of the day. Laurent reminds of ethics often. Some people are not honest against themselves. Some do everything to please parents or other people. Some get asked – you train for so long and you get nothing? I understand motivation of some. After all, when you jump, you are alone.

Some people don’t get sense of “we start together and finish together”. Some get pissed off because people around think slow. Some get this mad they shut people down instead of opening them. And some are constantly surrounded with friends that have no issues, they only want to jump. And use the opportunity, when cannot create anything in their own.

When it comes to Adapt, I think that is the best accessible tool I have experienced. I have heard a lot about it, money issues, trust issues. Have heard Yamakasi hate PkG. in fact, it makes people meet, learn and give the responsibility, and that is why I want it in Poland. I don’t mind “competition” when it comes to other schools. Yep, capitalism, yep, something, but or we create, or build ourselves to get sold to someone that is going to exchange us when we are tired/injured/old/independent. Parkour/ADD as a tool to build the better self, right? We can base on personal experiences.

I’d be happy to see “ethic commision” or something. Trust is not easy to gain. I see no reason to trust anyone that only gives money. Personally, if I wanted to be a prostitute, I’d chose classic way. Much love you all!

An experience of urban exploration

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

This is a story of an urban exploration adventure I had with parkour people, going to the top of a big bridge in NYC.

The way up was exciting but very safe. We had to a little easy beam balancing and climbing when we realized we were on the wrong side of the freeway to reach our access point and then some very simple and unexposed climbing. After that it was a night hike, ascending a metal staircase that was almost a ladder. With every level we climbed, past crisscrossing girders and huge cables like harp strings, more of the city revealed itself. At the peak of the stairs, we climbed a ladder that went through the center of a dark, vertical cave of metal in the ceiling. Through that cylindrical hole we emerged into a dusty metal box of a room with no lights and graffiti covered windows. I thought we’d reached a dead end, but then saw one side of the room was lit by moonlight filtering through a space big enough to climb through. We pulled ourselves up through that gap and then squirmed out a porthole window into the fresh night air on top of the bridge.

I tested the ground beneath me to see how strong, how slanted, how dusty it was, how far in each direction until the world dropped away. Then, satisfied that I could relax and enjoy, I let the panoramic view of the city wash over me.

My first impression was just a mass of twinkling lights: shimmering reflections on the water, the massive yellow moon low on the horizon, and clusters of dark geometry implied by shining windows. The bridge commanded my attention below like an epic, sci-fi version of yellow brick road. I felt like Spider-Man up somewhere so impossible, where in my peripheral vision a red light flashes intermittently to warn away airplanes.

Then the epic scale of the human project around me really hit me. I had read that day that 8.5 million people live in New York City. To see the length of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens; mountains of metal, hundreds of docked ships that carry cargo from around the world so the city can subsist; to see cars pass by underneath each with a driver going somewhere important to them, and in every direction more windows into someone’s home or workplace than I can count… to then realize NYC is small compared to places like Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai… to think about how transformed the human experience is in these huge cities on a millennium timescale… I felt the scale of it like a thrum in my chest. It hit me with a visceral power that I don’t think I would have get if I’d been in a crowd of tourists on the top floor of the Empire State Building, although I can’t explain why.

I settled into a good vantage point facing Manhattan and the nearly full moon. The members of our little group navigated their experience of this epic, transgressive moment: one friend challenging himself to experience the height with more risk and exposure; a couple of us balancing the desire to preserve with photos against the unfiltered “authenticity” of raw experience. We chatted about the view, about why people are so drawn to vistas, and soon we were just joking around like we might do anywhere. I realized I kept forgetting to really see what was around me, but there’s only so long I can sustain amazement, and sometimes it’s nice to just chat with a background view.

Eventually, it felt like time to come down and go to bed; at this point it was about 4am. We went back through the window, through the gap, down the ladder cave, down the winding, steep stairs, and did our little bit of climbing to cross back into the boundaries of everyday life.

Thoughts on the 2017 Art of Retreat

This weekend I attended The Art of Retreat in NYC with many of the community leaders, business owners and athletes that have been directly responsible for the growth and progress of our young sport. Collecting my thoughts will be difficult so we’ll see how this goes.

I thought I was attending the event to discuss with others how and why we should form a national governing body for the American communities – after the first day of governance discussion with Eugene Minogue and Victor Bevine it became very clear to me that the solution to our communal plight does not lie within what others have done in the past, but rather within the parameters that are unique to the American market. While it was good to hear an international opinion ultimately the formation of our governance (or decision against governance) must come from the hearts and minds of American athletes and business owners that understand that nature of our capitalist democracy. This much you probably already knew.

In my opinion we cannot expect to grow in a calculated way as a national sport if we remain unorganized. It has been invaluable for each region to define its own marketplace and practices but I believe in order to grow exponentially we must level the playing field and start getting better about transparency of business practice and research so that all can benefit where few have prospered. In each region people are blindly having to make the same mistakes and jump through hoops that older entrepreneurs have already navigated – and we have the power to change that. By each organization and region investing in a governing body that is dedicated to the preservation and innovation of our sport we ensure peer review instead of monopoly.

There is of course the American sentiment that a government was made to get in a citizen’s way but we have the power to formulate and structure any system that we want. When the Founding Fathers and the members of the Constitutional Convention met to decide secession from the British Empire they were not purely reacting to foreign oppression, they were using foreign oppression as a focusing device to ensure a future for American citizens and businesses. They did not expect to topple the British Empire but merely to ensure that the future of our nation rested within the hands of her people. We do not have the power and resources to defeat FIG if they have their mind set on putting parkour in Olympics, but we can control the growth and innovation of the American communities through spreading out the workload so many have contributed to in order to strengthen our sport nationally by investing in young entrepreneurs.

I see the culture of excellence Brandee Laird Rene Scavington and Dylan Polin have instilled in their communities and it excites me for the future generations of our movement. I look at how Justin Sheaffer and Caitlin Pontrella can organize an event and I see a young athlete learning how to host a jam or event in their own community. I listen to Alice B. Popejoy and Craig Constantine efficiently facilitate discourse and communication that could improve every business in this nation’s sport. I witness the example set by entrepreneurs like Dan Iaboni Ryan Ford and Amos Rendao emulated by the current and next generations of our sport and with a concentrated effort on all our parts I believe we can develop a system that enriches our current businesses and emboldens our other community members to contribute to the marketplace with all our support.

I am still learning my role to play in all of this but I am convinced that I can use my ability to communicate to bridge these companies and communities together. I am humbled by the opportunity to learn from each of you and I look forward to the future we will craft together together. You have all inspired me for the better part of a decade and I am dedicated to returning the favor. When I think about this sport I am filled with nothing but pride and admiration (besides chronic knee pain). Thank you for your support and love as always.