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.
Is there a story you’d like to share?
Craig: One of the questions I love to ask people is, is there a story you would like to share?
Sasa: Yes of course, everybody has a story, yes?
Craig: Yes. Well, is there a story that you [00:07:30] can share that we’re not going to look things up in a law dictionary.
Sasa: Oh, that story. You need to be more precise because I have different stories.
Craig: Okay, can I have a story about Laurent?
Sasa: Oh yes, that story. What I wanted to say, there is a bunch of stories we have, and for some of the stories you need kind of the trigger to pull them out, but for some stories you don’t need a trigger. Like just stick in your mind forever. This is one of the stories that I think probably I’ll never forget. I had the luck [00:08:00] to spend a lot of time with Laurent and also that period of training with him was … whoa! you know… like completely changing your mindset about everything. It’s like okay, restart. One of the these stories. It’s January, very beginning of January in Milan super cold, minus five, seven, I don’t know. Didn’t [00:08:30] really care.
Craig: We’ll go with, “cold.”
Sasa: It’s about zero, it was a little bit snow. It was snowing that day. We had this routine that we go every day, outside to train. Mostly conditioning in the morning, afternoon we teach or move with him, but this day was special. It was super cold, I just wake up and so to doing the … I look at Laurent and at the moment like, “Do we really train today?!” [00:09:00] He said “Yes, of course.”
Craig: Why is today any different, right?
Sasa: Yes, and then “Yes, but like, what do we do?” He’s like “101, you know,” that’s like super exercise. Training that you spend over one hour down. So I said “Okay, whatever.” We go out, super freezing, super not in the mood for training. That happens to everyone. Just [00:09:30] environment and all this stuff will happen at the moment like, I really don’t want to do it. I didn’t tell to him I don’t really want to do it. I think I said that …
Craig: Yes, you don’t want to actually say it, right.
Sasa: No, I think I even said like, “Oh, why?” I start kind of complaining and all this stuff.
Craig: How did that work out? Now he’s going to go sooner right.
Sasa: Yes, that was the point when he said, “Okay, so we don’t need to do it with the breaks or [00:10:00] … we do it with no stop.”
Craig: Maybe you should quickly unpack what 101 is. I’m laughing because I know what it is, but what’s 101?
Sasa: 101 is like you have eight exercises and you repeat each of these exercises 101 times.
Craig: Right, and the eight exercises are all …
Sasa: In quadrapedal, yes.
Craig: Yes, they’re all quadrapedie, hands and feet on the floor. That’s eight exercises, none of which are easy or relaxing.
Sasa: Yes, yes, no, when you go for 101 you don’t stop … The key of this exercise, when you go for one, in original training you go do one and you kind [00:10:30] of rest a little bit and then you go for another one and then you rest and go further and blah blah blah. You go through all eight of these, and then when you finish you kind of again take a short break and then you do a pyramid of these eight exercises, then you do eight exercises by 11, 21, 31, 21, 11 again.
Craig: Right, of each exercise.
Sasa: Then 101 is kind of over, yes. Then I know that because I do this already every week at least once, and it was fine. It was all these muscles burning and you’re [00:11:00] always like “Oh fuck, this is hard.” Then you survive, because you did before, you know how everything works. You will survive it again, but this day was completely not for that. I was so much complaining and telling how I would, kind of myself that I wouldn’t do it, and then in that moment something go through my mind, like I don’t want to do it. My body don’t want to do it, my mind don’t want to do it, why I am here? What’s happening to me? [00:11:30] Then Laurent just. “Okay, let’s start.” He just started, and then I didn’t have a choice. I start or I go home.
Craig: Right, go home home. Not just back to Laurent’s, go home.
Sasa: Yes, yes, but like what am I doing? I’m here, so let’s just start. I started and the moment I put my hands down, like “Fuuuuuuuuck, why?”
Craig: It’s cold, right?
Sasa: Yes. Go ahead and try it, and you will see, like everyone just going and trying it. You will see how hard it is. [00:12:00] He’s starting, he’s doing it, I’m following a little bit slowly, but following, and then he, at like until 20 minutes or 22 minutes until first part of all exercise by 101 time. I was a little bit behind him and I couldn’t believe it. I was pushing to myself, okay, I will do this set and I’m quitting for sure. I am not going further.
Craig: Yes, I am doing 101 but I’m not aiming for the pyramid.
Sasa: Yes, and then [00:12:30] I will still be happy to finish this part. It’s going to be around 25, 30 minutes. I’m super happy with this. I did it, and like okay, I will go home, and then I look at him and he’s already doing the pyramid.
Craig: Yes, no break, it’s just like … It’s cold, so we’ll just put it all together.
Sasa: Just do it until you know you have energy or heat-ness, whatever. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t even look at me, you know what I mean, he just …
Craig: Kept going.
Sasa: Yes, and I’m like “Fuuuuuuck!” I’m like, “I need a [00:13:00] break.” On that break, like, again, like why I am doing this? Like why. I couldn’t understand at that point, and I just continued. I didn’t know how or what, but you know. I had that feeling that I don’t have a …
Craig: Yes, your hands are numb. Nothing below the wrist.
Sasa: Yes, I have feeling I am crushing with the bone, directly into the …
Craig: Like making a fist right?
Sasa: Yes, like just the bone, this one.
Craig: Oh, right. Yes.
Sasa: I had that feeling that I don’t have a hand, I felt like [00:13:30] just a stick.
Craig: A stick. I’m on my Radius and my Ulna …
Sasa: Yes, just sticking this stick in the ground and like, fucking cold. He did it, he finished it, and I’m trying to keep up. I am almost done the pyramid and he’s like waiting [for] me in a handstand. It’s like he don’t say anything, you’re just like …
Craig: He just like sticks it up there, I’ll wait for you, right?
Sasa: Yes, yes, like “Come on Sasa.” Like [00:14:00] don’t say anything but I know. I can not explain how that was motivational, because if he wasn’t there I would never do this. This person pushed me so much, just being there, just following him was something incredible and magical that you cannot get always with …
Craig: Yes, it doesn’t happen with everyone.
Sasa: It doesn’t happen with everyone. Everybody can motivate [00:14:30] us in different ways, that’s true, but this special moment is something that I will remember forever. Because I did something that I really didn’t want to do, I kind of refused it with all my body, with everything, and when we ended I think I hugged him so hard, I was so happy doing this, and then we went for like a cup of tea. I think we discussed [00:15:00] about what we did and how awesome that was, but you know. I did crazy other challenges with quadrapedie and all this kind of stuff, and it was always hard, but this is something that just …
Craig: First time you ever faced a challenge that you honestly didn’t want to do.
Craig: Don’t want to do this.
Sasa: Yes, that’s kind of like the story. I don’t know, I want to say just thank you Laurent for making me much durable and resistible and …
Craig: Yes, and making [00:15:30] you realize that you really could do it. He saw that.
Sasa: Yes, when I now need to do like 2K crawl or something, pfft, you know.
Craig: Dude, it’s above freezing, the suns up, what the …
Sasa: Yes, like [inaudible 00:15:41], nothing.
Craig: Right, this is awesome!
Sasa: Now I don’t have that like death mindset, which is builded in my head after that one, it’s incredible. Just after that I did like a building, 30 floors, quadrapedie backwards. Okay, you know, no raining, no minus 15.
Craig: [00:16:00] It’s warm, right.
Sasa: Yes, like just get a little bit sweaty, a little bit tired and that’s it.
Craig: Just did you just say reverse qm 30 floors, get a little bit sweaty …
Sasa: Actually, I will correct myself, 31.
Craig: 31, oh, wonderful.
Sasa: It’s the tallest building in Belgrade. Of course no stop, no getting up.
Craig: Of course the final question is, three words to describe your practice?
Sasa: Whoa, so hard question. Maybe there hardest of all of them so far.
Craig: You see right through my plan. That’s exactly why it’s on the end.
Sasa: Wow, it’s … I think that I already get this question before and it’s always change, because constant progression and everything. I will say first love. Love for movement, love for people, love for everything what Parkour community is doing. Creating so much love inside. I’m here, in between 100 people, I know more than 50 people here, and we hug every day.
Craig: It’s actually hard to get anywhere around here, you try to … Like you have to leave 10 minutes early, so you can stop for every hug, handshake, laugh, joke. It’s like …
Sasa: Ninja game, all this stuff. It’s love. It’s created a circle of big love between all these people. That’s magic, like that’s, yes, what this discipline did to us. Give you a lot of love, that’s for sure, number one I think, love.
Number two, discipline.
Craig: That’s a good word.
Sasa: It’s here from beginning. If you discipline yourself first then you can kind of fit in this kind of community. Also, this discipline always can progress and progress and progress.
Craig: Yes, it’s a community of effort. Not a community of accomplishment or specific goals, it’s a community of effort … and that requires discipline.
Sasa: Yes, like for sure discipline is here. To all of us say here, whatever this discipline is, have a name, it will change or not. It’s not important but it’s going to be always about this discipline for sure.
Third one, I think I will say people, number three. Because it’s all about people, it’s … I’ll actually quote my friend Boki. I get in conversation with him, it was like he didn’t travel for places, he didn’t travel for obstacles, he didn’t travel for this crazy stuff around. He’d travel to talk.
Craig: To people.
Sasa: To talk to people, to jump with people, to do things with the people. People are key.
Craig: People are unique, right.
Sasa: Yes, well unique in that key of all this, you know. These, all the amazing connections that he created and all different parts of the world, but we shortly come back for them. Yugoslavia, where we started, and I think it’s going to be good to him there because … on the end, we had this big conflict between all these countries and then what we did, early 2000s, it’s where we connect these two communities, Serbia and Croatia and all these friends sharing everything between, and Parkour was the link between all these countries who had war between before. Traceurs– Parkour people were the key of this connection, and I hope they will continue all this great work. One of the great things that we did, it’s 2011, it was called first Skochy jam, it was a camping in Serbia that we have people from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia for the first time combined ever.
Sasa: That was one of the things that made me the most proud. Organizing with all the friends, until this connection is just stronger and stronger and stronger. I hope that will continue growing up in this direction. People– because we are just the people. We are not … This is not Serbia, this is not Croatia, la, la, la, there is no religion involved, there is nothing between us, there is no borders. We are people, because this is actually the most magical thing what has happened and this link between, is literally the magic that combine and connect these people after so many bad things. We’ll end up with this connection because, it’s for me maybe the most important work we did so far.