066. Rafe Kelley: Hero's journey, practice, and self transformation

Episode summary


Rafe Kelley dives deep into his thoughts about the hero’s journey and it’s relevance to parkour. He shares his own journey and research into parkour and movement, finding meaning in practicing, and why he trains in nature. Rafe discusses parkour’s power as a transformative practice, the spirit behind it, and what makes it unique.

Rafe’s question

What interested Craig about talking to him?

Hero’s Journey

Parkour as a mini hero’s journey to come to over and over – breaking the jump and hero’s journey metaphor (call, assess, fear, overcome, commit). Practicing the process and skillsets to cultivate growth. Answering the question of why we train. Parkour not a complete “hero’s journey,” trying to learn what it needs, the missing piece; the search emerged from Rafe’s own life experiences, interest in history, anthropology. Parkour felt closer to primal play, but wanting to find the best way to be human. Influence of mythology and literature on his methodology. Evolve Move Play and parkour, origins, confronting challenge

Losing the journey

Western culture has lost the hero’s journey, people don’t realize their life is a journey. John Vervaeke’s work, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis . How we face perennial problems in society, intelligence vs wisdom, classes of problems. Huge problem space, operating with heuristics, but same as bias. What tools can we use – problem solving, useful solutions – embodied cognition to understand the world, searching for meaning, a process. Searching for meaning through competition, then training in nature, training to last – not what the man does to the mountain, but what the mountain does to the man (transformative)

Transformative practice

Training to become a better human, how that affects your practice. Embodied relationship with your environment, relating to other humans, mindfulness and meditation. Scope of practices, mindfulness, movement with environment and others, community. Specifically looking for self growth from all practices. Nature’s role, mindful movement, life linking, dialogue, reflection. Power of narrative for both movement and transformation. Need more than one avenue for transformation, being able to translate to other areas. Escapism vs transferring skills.

Story about thinking, finding your why

Studying, forming your own opinions… his seven year old daughter hating Trump, but not being able to form why. Reflecting the opinions around her. Find five reasons you think something, or five reasons to convince yourself to do something. Spend the time thinking and studying to know why you think a certain way, can defend it, and to keep challenging the thought around you.

Parkour origin, spirit, analysis

The role of the hero’s journey, finding a positive challenge, why they trained the way they do; Motivations, how things evolved. Anthropology, in some ways inexplicable, need to just train with Yamak to understand. That idea of just going out an training, moving. Dao vs Jitsu, or way vs technique. Functionality of elbows, climb ups, and muscle ups; Practice beginning with functionality, self transformation entered later. Thinking of parkour as set of techniques, OR a journey, a way of being. Defining parkour as a practice, its meaning and effect; Is parkour special? Similarity to flow sports, difference from martial arts; different from both as human movement, slower, body only, no equipment. Training in nature, richer environment, more feedback. Dao type practices sought for transformation. Parkour’s inherent honesty, reality sets it apart. Flow states in business, feedback. Putting together both parkour and martial skills, EMP trying to unify reality and transformation

3 words

Craig: So, I think I will just ask the final question, which would be three words to describe your practice.

Rafe: Well, the obvious ones would be evolve. Right? So yeah, evolve, move and play. Right?

3-words visualized


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Contact and further info

To find out more about Rafe’s work, you can visit Evolve Move Play’s website. You can also listen to Rafe’s Evolve Move Play podcast.