088. David Banks: Endurance challenges, performance art, and recovery

Highlight [0:00]

Chapter’s show notes…

David: There’s nothing braver than getting on the stage with one thing, and as someone that preforms across the spectrum of performance, performance art has always been one that for me has that pull of the rawest form of performing, in the same way that I think parkour is the rawest form of efficient movement, in the same way I think mixed martial arts is the rawest form of fighting.


Introduction [0:29]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig: Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the Movers Mindset podcast, where I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do and why they do it. This is episode number 88, David Banks, endurance challenges, performance art and recovery. Is parkour about athleticism or performance art? To David Banks, it is both at once. He shares his movement journey and inspirations from martial arts to parkour to drama. David unpacks some of his projects, including the Movement Card, and his various charity endurance challenges. He discusses performance art and how it relates to his parkour practice and reflects on injury and recovery.

Craig: David Banks is an artist and mover from Glasgow, Scotland. As a co-founder of the company Ukemi, he merges his background in art and parkour by creating projects that encourage play, improve health, and make movement accessible in urban areas. David has been a part of various projects through Ukemi, collaborating on Youth Urban Games Festival and creating the Ukemi Card Game. For more information, go to MoversMindset.com/88. I also want to mention that in season four, we’re now recording video for some of the podcasts. So if you want to see this conversation, head to MoversMindset.com/88. Thanks for listening and watching.


Childhood role of movement [1:59]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig: Hello, I’m Craig Constantine from Movers Mindset, I’m here this morning with David Banks. Welcome, David. How are you this afternoon?

David: Yeah, I’m doing good. I’m in Scotland, but the sun is shining, which is really positive. [crosstalk 00:02:14] at the moment.

Craig: Sorry.

David: So finding ways to stay busy, but I’m sure everyone listening is in the exact same position. So just getting by, try to stay creative, trying to eat reasonably healthy, as much as one can in quarantine. The volume sometimes becomes a tricky thing, as you can imagine. But I’m smiling, I’m happy and healthy, and I guess all things considered, I’m doing all right. How about you, Craig? How are you doing?

Craig: I’m good. It is another gorgeous day here, I’m in Eastern Pennsylvania. There’s a joke, I almost hate to say this in the recording, but there’s a joke about, I seem to bring really good weather wherever I go. I went to Scotland a year and a half ago to visit Hedge, and it was gorgeous, sunny, breezy in the 70s Fahrenheit the entire time I was there. He was like, “This is weird.” Every time I get on a call with somebody, the weather’s gorgeous. I went to rainy Seattle on the West Coast, I was there for three and a half days, gorgeous, sunny, blue skies. All the Seattleites are like, “What’s with this weather.” So I don’t want to jinx it, but yeah. Hopefully everybody that I talk to has a great day. I hope get a chance to get outside and move.

David: We have this strange thing in Scotland where we both hate the weather, but we’re also proud of it. So when people come to visit, as much as we’ve been complaining, we want to see you deal with it.

Craig: I want to talk about the [crosstalk 00:03:33]. Yes.

David: I want you to see what happens when it rains.

Craig: So let’s dive in here. I like to start by asking people on these video interviews, thinking back to your childhood, what role did movement play as you were growing up?

David: I wanted to be Spider-Man, then I wanted to be Neo and Jigoku and various Final Fantasy characters. I would say mainly the major influence I had on my life is I got a Spider-Man costume when I was about six or seven years old and I’d recently gone through a little bit of a trauma, and I refused to take the Spider-Man costume off. So my mum had to buy me another one and sneak me in it, and I didn’t take it off for weeks. I decided at that point, “I’m going to become Spider-Man.”

Craig: Your persona.

David: That led me down the path of movement, I realized. For me, my parkour practice is I want to be able to escape, reach, attack and defend. So I pursued boxing, I had boxing fights, MMA fights, and have done quite a lot in my parkour practice. As I got a little bit older, I actually did once, I was going about here in Glasgow in a superhero costume underneath my clothes, like ready to fight crime. I went down to Manchester to meet another guy that was doing it, but then I realized that a lot of that was victimizing a certain type of crime, and I felt that the idea and the role of the superhero in practicality in the street often just victimizes the most vulnerable people in society.

David: So upon reflection of that, I realized that what I liked about these characters, apart from the movement qualities, was the story and the express of it within it, so then all the things were linking up at the time anyway and that’s where I get a lot of my performance practice from. All linked in from that movement, I wanted to be Spider-Man, I wanted to move like him, I wanted to fight like him. Then I wanted to entertain like him, finally.

Craig: That does explain quite a bit. Sometimes this is a little cold, but I like to think of people as Venn diagrams. Like, “They’re into theater, they’re into parkour.” It’s always interesting to go, “How did those particular areas of interest get seeded into that person?” Because most people don’t change them, they go pretty far in their life with the same areas of interest. I’m interested in how you described the transition or the way that you changed from maybe wanting to be a superhero, and then realizing that there was something within the concept of superhero that is actually what you were drawn to.

Craig: I’m wondering if, is there somebody that you can think of, maybe it can be somebody that inspires you or somebody that amazes you, and you can leave their name out if you want, but is there somebody that you think of that you found inspiring in that window when you were transitioning? Maybe it’s only available in retrospect, can you see it?

David: I think in my more formative years, it would have to be someone like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris is a little bit before my time, but in particular, World Kickboxing Champion, performer, plenty of charitable endeavors. So I certainly look towards those style of figures, and early on in my, I guess more official training, because I’ve been trained in parkour, I imagine like a lot of this audience, way before coaching, so parkour was what I met to do my friends with, but my main physical training was coming from mixed martial arts and boxing. My head coach was a musician, as well as a former kickboxer and judo champion.

David: So he had this real nice mix of the hardest guy I knew ever, just that real old tough, old martial arts drill. You just squat and you kick each other in the stomach, you do a squat and you kick each other. It doesn’t even work, it’s a shame that we’ve been trained that way. Looking back on it, some of the stuff we’ve done is so bad for you. But it built my mental toughness, and beyond that, he had a softness to him and was very artistic minded. When there were big fight events, we’d very much take part in how it was represented, what colors, what fonts, how we laid out the whole campaign. We’d often bring things like music into it.

David: So I think experiencing him allowed me, that was my Coach [Mark House 00:08:04] from Team Jigoku in Aberdeen, and experiencing someone like him really allowed me to see that I could have these kind of hard and soft qualities and get similar outcomes. I guess that’s how it links to both performance, competition, athletic endeavors, and parkour.


Life transitions [8:22]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig: Part of the challenge that I find is there’s a million places that we can go. One of the things that I would like to do is I don’t think people know as much about Scotland, people can go to Wikipedia and read, but I’m wondering, can you just give me a little bit of maybe how your life and your perspective shifted? I’m guessing at some point you went from Aberdeen to Glasgow, and what was it like for you to make that transition?

David: I moved here when I was 18, so it was 10 years ago now, and as soon as I turned 18 essentially I moved to Glasgow. I was ready for it, I was ready for the bigger parkour scene. Out of all the forums I operated at the time was the Glasgow Parkour Coaching Forum ran by Chris Grant, even though we were based in Aberdeen, we still operated through that. So there were a lot of people I was excited to meet, and I was excited just to be a part of that culture.

David: It’s also, for those from back in the day, it’s nice to put foreign names to faces sometimes. I remember meeting my friend Tim who was in Ukemi, and I was like, “Are you Superfly?” He was like, “Yeah, man. I’m Superfly.” Are you Many Movements? I was like, “Yeah, that’s me, man. I’m Many Movements.” Then also, the realm of possibility down here is much larger. Glasgow, in terms of its arts and culture, is phenomenal. It’s also an incredibly cheap city to live in, so there’s a lot less limited access. There’s a lot of cheap things going on here, things for free. So I think any time you transition or you shift to a new place, or even experience a trauma or go through something, you do have that possibility to radically rethink yourself. So I have that moment. I guess maybe for me, more of an emerging moment when I moved here than a radical rethink.

Craig: Did you find your movement style changed as well? I’m just wondering, 18 is a really transformative, it can right in there as a transformative window for people in general, and to change external environments while you’re internally changing, I’m just wondering if looking back, if you can see your parkour has changed?

David: Yeah. I think the main movements, practices that got layered in when I moved here … So I actually moved here to go to the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, so it’s a drama school, and part of my training was I had to experience ballet, contemporary dance, yoga, Pilates, contact improvisation dance. So I had this whole world of different movement styles to work with, and what I quite liked about it was there’s a lot of repetition, a lot of pattern based work. It definitely did change my movement, in terms of connectivity and flow. Also, just the reality of being in a larger parkour scene, there was more people to push my own technical ability. It’s not necessarily sometimes about finding people that are further along the journey than you, sometimes it’s about identifying those people that are around about your level.


Movement Card project [11:39]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig: Right, just able to pull you or push you. I want to talk about, there’s so many things, I want to talk about crawling eight miles, but just because QM, I am addicted. But before we go there, the Movement Card project, if people don’t know anything about it, they’re going to be like, “Wait, what? Craig just turns left.” The Movement Card project that you worked on, I’m wondering if you can walk me through, because a lot of people who’ve done parkour for a while and then they do it in some sort of urban space, they quickly realize that there is a bit of friction between society in general and the people who have had their eyes opened by movement practices such as parkour, free running.

Craig: I’m just wondering, so a lot of people have that idea that there’s a friction here and the world would be better if we all just got along, but you went the significant next step to actually create a project, create a thing, pull the resources. Can you unpack how did you get from having an idea to actually having a physical thing, and then also tell me a little bit about it so people know what it is?

David: Yeah. I think to understand the birth of the idea, you need to understand the context of what the law is like in Scotland. We have reasonably liberal laws in terms of being able to move freely, we also have no trespassing laws in Scotland and we have no private spaces to an extent. If you make your private space open, it is a public space. So just to give the people listening some context, we already had that foundation. What is difficult is that our current urban conditions reject the possibility for a creativity in urban spaces. This is often in Scotland because of social contracts, as opposed to written law. It’s “Get down off that wall.”

Craig: You, sir, you should know better.

David: You’re not allowed to do this, I’m phoning the police. For people that maybe don’t practice parkour that are listening to this, you might think, “You just tell him it’s fine, you just wait for the police to come.” But the amount of times I’ve taken an hour or two out of my training over the years to deal with that, is just very frustrating. So as part of my arts practice, I’ve always looked for ways to increase our freedoms in the city, or at least increase our understandings of it.

David: So what the Movement Card does, and I’ll describe what it is now, the Movement Card is a pocket sized business card and in it, it has your rights to move in Scotland in Scot’s law. It also has access to our website, MMVMT-Card.com, that will hopefully grow. What the project is, is we’re collecting a database of your rights to move in different countries around the world, and we’re doing that for two reasons. So let’s say you’re in a quite liberal country like Scotland, in terms of movement, your Movement Card now solidifies to people when they give you a bit of hassle, that you have something in your hand. There’s something different about having something verbally and showing them something, and it has a different effect.

David: So let’s say you’re in a really strict country and you say, “David, we’re going to make a Movement Card and it’s going to describe perfectly how we’re not allowed to do this.” The value in that is, once we have more countries to draw comparisons to, you have legislative examples that you can use to fight for greater freedoms in your country, in terms of movement practice. So you can point to countries with more liberal movement laws in the city, and you can begin to use that as a basis for your campaign, because there’s already examples of best practice. So our goal with the project is to get as many people involved. At the moment, we have a group in Finland, Belgium, Australia, and we’re trying to unpack the American one at the moment. I know you’ve got lots of state based laws, that’s making it very difficult.

Craig: Yeah, 51.

David: We’re also collaborating with Parkour Outreach. So Gordon Tsang is the one who writes the laws, he’s a lawyer and runs Parkour Outreach, and Ukemi, we conceptualized the idea and designed it. We’re also now creating a partnership with Parkour Earth to try and get here, there and everywhere. So if you’re listening right now and that’s something that you feel that you want to get involved in, give us a shout. We can support you with the design of it, we can support you with pointing you in the right direction, access to the text on the card and the laws that you’ll write. So you don’t have to have any experience at all, all that we really require is that you’re within your local scene, so then you can access the resources, and we’ll show you how to do that. That’s it in a nutshell, I guess.


Charity endurance events [16:28]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig: I always like to make sure that I don’t railroad people in the discussion, and I’m wondering, is there anything that you were thinking that you would want to talk about today? I want to make sure that we don’t, I press stop and you’re like, “I didn’t get to …”

David: Yeah. The first I’m going to do is backtrack slightly. I know Hedge is listening to this, and he helped as well with the Movement Card. [crosstalk 00:16:57] Access Parkour here in Scotland will help you with anything, they’re great. So what I’d like to talk about today is, I’d like to talk about the performative aspects of parkour. I like to break that down into the Rail Marathon, the Cat Crawl, and I’d also like to talk about city spaces in general. I’ll try and keep this all concise, I know we’re limited for time. I’d also like to talk a little bit more about Ukemi. So should we start with, because you mentioned already the Cat Crawl?

Craig: Sure. I’ve seen some of the video.

David: So for those that … I’ll give you some, this is I guess the origin of I guess me and endurance events. 10 years ago, no, nine years ago now, I’m in Glasgow, 19 years old, and I’m in my student accommodation and I’m drunk. The Haiti earthquake has just happened. I’m sitting, having a few beers with my classmates and I say, “Someone should really do something about it.” They say, “You should do something about it.” So I said, “Okay, I will. I’m going to crawl for a half marathon.” They’re like, “It can’t be done.” I was like, “I’ll try it. People will appreciate it, I’ll give it a go.”

David: Then I woke up the next day and I was like, “No.” So in eight days notice, Buchanan Street in Glasgow, it was in January, there was hail during the day, there was a little bit of snow, there was rain, cold. Yeah. I crawled for eight miles, and I got a microfracture on my wrist, I damaged a tendon of my shoulder. At one point, on the seventh mile mark, my toes kept on popping out. I took off my shoe, one of my toes was out of socket, so I had to get my dad to jam it back in. I left, I was depressed for months afterwards, and I’ll tell you why is that I set the goal of a half marathon, even though I only achieved eight miles, and we raised all the money primarily on the day. We raised 4000 pounds, so maybe about $6000 on the day.

Craig: That was people who were, they were walking with you as you guys were working, they were carrying buckets and explaining, so that they were trying to pull people in to engage? So that was where all the fundraising was done, right there with cans and explanation?

David: Yeah, and a lot of time is was people doing their shopping and coming back and I’m still crawling.

Craig: Half a block down, right.

David: But what happened was, we were counting them as we went as well, and people would say, “David, you’re doing really well. Every time you do a length, you’re raising 150 pounds and that supports two families.” So what I had done pretty early on in the marathon, from about halfway point, I’m sorry, not the marathon, the crawl, was I began to visualize families like 100 meters ahead, and if I could crawl to them, I could save them. I would just do it again and again, and again, and again.

David: When I got near the end of the marathon, I went to the toilet and I’ve got quite a supportive family, I had my dad there with me, I came out of the toilet and it may be quite embarrassing to say, but I didn’t get him to help me, by the way, but I couldn’t wipe my bum. I couldn’t close my hand and I just cried. I was like, “I can’t do it anymore.” I finished the final length. On the surface, I was celebrating it, but I went into quite a dark space for a couple of months in my mind, really thinking that I’d let everyone down. If I wasn’t so weak in my mind, I would have been able to save someone else.

David: The reason I mention this is to segue into the other events that I’ve done. I carried that feeling for quite a while, and I decided I needed to do an event that had an ending. So Rue Callahan and I done the London Marathon on stilts. We had a distance, we trained for it, and we done the London Marathon on stilts and it was wonderful. I recaptured my love for that. From there, I started formulating an idea to do another event using a parkour movement, but there was just never the right opportunity. I guess you have to realize that with the crawl, I was young and naïve and I could push through just having no idea of the …

Craig: Did you do any prep training at all specifically for it?

David: No, I had a couple of cold showers, that was it. I stimulated, and I would do things that I didn’t want to do that week. So if there’s something, if I wanted dinner and I really want to eat right now, it was like I’m not going to eat today. I got in the shower and I was like, “This is really warm and nice.” I said, “Right, okay. Cold water for two minutes.” I’d finish the two minutes and I want to get out, you’ve got to 10 more seconds. So I didn’t have enough time to physically prep, but I had enough time to sharpen my brain, so to speak.

David: So going from that, I always wanted to replicate that. Doing the London Marathon on stilts, I was able to push myself forward. I was raising money for a close family member and that pushed me forward. I don’t feel like I can go and just do these events by the way, there has to be external stimulus. So when it came to the Rail Marathon and Madeline, and then I met some people from [inaudible 00:22:50] and ParkourONE, and they wanted to raise money to do events that would work with professionals, psychiatrist, et cetera, and integrate parkour training into people’s therapy. I thought it was an excellent thing, and as a young man, and we all have men roundabout my age in your family and your friend circle, we are a very high risk of committing suicide.

David: As a result, I think most people are listening here and have a man in their family that’s attempted or went down that road. So that was the image that I was going to use for the Rail Marathon in order to get myself through it. Unfortunately, I tore a tendon in my knee at the end of last year while preparing for it, and I postponed the Rail Marathon. Then it happened again, and so I wouldn’t have postponed it otherwise, but I had been really injured in maybe six or seven years, so when I had that problem in my knee, I was like, “Okay, it’s fine. You’ll recover.” What’s really frustrating about that is Rail Marathon, I estimate it’s going to take me 14 to 16 hours, so my training sessions for that were like up to four or five hours long once a week, two one-hour sessions once a week on a rail. So to carve out that amount of time to prepare for an event like that, to get injured twice was really going.

David: We put our heads together and I had the idea to maybe just expand out the Rail Marathon. So this is the most recent one that’s just happened, it just happened two weeks ago. I was going to be doing the marathon on the rail, I got injured, and instead we got people in the parkour community around the world to step up to the plate.

Craig: Right.

David: Yeah. We have 34 people from 12 different countries, we raised a good chunk of change. By the looks of things, this is now going to become an annual event. So every year, you can donate a mile, share the fundraiser, get added to a cool video at the end, and we’ll raise some money for some good causes. So that’s happening again next year, in terms of myself doing the Rail Marathon, I will train for that and I will still hopefully complete that this year. At the time, we had things like Guinness involved, thought I was going to be setting the world record, being the first person to balance for a marathon.

David: So hopefully that will still happen, I think it will happen in a more performative context now, likely in a theater or a museum. Now I’ve raised the money, and with the events happening regularly, I probably will put the Crowdfunder back up for that. But for me, that’s now me dipping into more of a performance art, background to achieve that image, this idea of balancing on the rail. I think that a common example of someone that might do something like that is David Blaine, who stands on the pillar for 24 hours and goes into ice. I’m very inspired by those actions as well. So because the fundraiser’s done and it won’t happen again until next year, when I do complete the marathon, I’ll be doing it more in theater style.

Craig: Performance.

David: Yeah, yeah.

Craig: That’s a neat …


Performance and theater [16:07]

Chapter’s show notes…

David: Which is my background, where I’m actually trained. I guess that segues into performance work.

Craig: That’s what I was just thinking, that segues into theater and performance work. Can you remember a moment where, I’m going to say theater and performance, when you first realized that was a thing? Did that click for you at any point in your life in particular? Or has that just always been there since the very beginning?

David: I think it’s linked to the Spider-Man thing, I think it’s not fully realizing all the things that I was enjoying about that. I was thinking, that very much drew me towards and who I’ve previously mentioned, people like David Blaine and a lot of other more in the scene performance artists, like Frank [inaudible 00:26:54] would be one people recognize. I’ve always had a great respect for things that are reduced to their purest form, so parkour being our purest form with efficient movement.

David: I am not about to define parkour, so I’m not going to do it. Okay? The reason being is we have a beautiful discipline that escapes this 21st century encyclopedia style knowledge. No one quite knows what it is, and that is great. As soon as we know what parkour is, I’ll probably do something else. It’s important for me that we all disagree about what it is, and it creates a culture. There should be the specs, the foundations of course, but that’s just where I stand about it. So this purest form of movement or image in parkour, I have that feeling with fighting, I get that feeling when I watch someone sprint. When I watch things like performance art, isn’t this big huge two-hour spectacle with lights and confetti and dance numbers and jazz hands, it’s taking an idea and reducing it to its purest form in a single image.

David: I’m aware that if you’re not into that sort of thing, you might see pictures of it and it misses the mark, but for me, there’s nothing braver than getting on the stage with one thing. As someone that performs across the spectrum of performance, and performance art has always been one that for me has that pull of the rawest form of performing, and the same with I think parkour is the rawest form of efficient movement, in the same way I think mixed martial arts is the rawest form of fighting. So I’m very much into those worlds for those very reasons. I say with the performance thing …

Craig: I said, do you have a favorite type of performance that you do? Do you prefer to do the performance yourself, or do you prefer to be engaged in enabling the performance? You participate, but you really like is seeing the performance happen? What’s the thing that draws you the most in there?

David: I particularly like watching duration work, so for those that don’t know, that might be a performance that might last six hours, 12 hours. You’re welcome to come and go as you wish. I like the time to think, I like to just sit and look at that image and let my mind wander. I think a lot of people might get the same benefit if they’re very into galleries and looking at paintings. When you [crosstalk 00:29:33] these works, you’re thinking about yourself. You can just let go of how maybe “weird” it might seem, and just sit and think for a while.

David: How often can you go into a space where you can enter and leave, no one’s on their phone and everyone’s just sitting silently and watching a central focal point? So I think the meditative aspects of it, the reflective aspects of it, and also my respect for the artist are the things that draw me towards that. Ironically, most things like performing are in complete contrast to that. So I’ve performed across quite a large spectrum, I’ve danced classically with Scottish Opera, I teach with Scottish Ballet. Mainly parkour stuff, not ballet. Not because I don’t do ballet or practice ballet, but I wouldn’t want to disrespect the phenomenal dancers in that company. I performed in the circus, I’ve performed as an actor.

David: So the two ways that I want to skin the cat of parkour for performance is in the performance art spectrum, doing things like a duration-al action, such as a marathon on a rail, set it out with cool light, make it really cool and inject some of those aspects into the static image. The other end of the spectrum would be the more kind of public audience festival style feel, so something that’s maybe a little bit more accessible. At the moment, I perform a show called Stuntman, where I try to become a stuntman for an hour. We were just due to start touring that next month, unfortunately due to the pandemic, that’s been canceled. I’d say historically, I’ve mainly performed in parkour crossover shows. So parkour with theater, parkour with dance, parkour with a clown suit on, whatever it is.

David: My frustration I get from this is, and there’s going to be some parkour performers that are going to laugh at this, how many times has a director or a call came up to you and you sat down and they’ve got a big pot of funding that maybe you’ve struggled to go after, you get down and they’re like, “Listen, I’ve got a great idea. We’re going to make a parkour performance and it’s going to be about breaking from the 9:00 to 5:00.” I’m like, “Jesus.” The next person calls, “Actually, we’re going to make a parkour performance that’s going to be you breaking out of a suit. We’re going to make a parkour performance about you breaking from the restraints of society.” It’s just base level drivel to me.

David: I was once in a show, and it was a good show, it was fun to watch, where they spent, it must have been about 10,000 pounds on a set to make it look like a street to place in a street. That’s mind blowing. When you go see these parkour shows and they’ve got fake scaffolding. You’re like, “There’s a scaffolding over there.”

Craig: Right, turn the camera this way, they’re working on this building right here.

David: There’s obviously this big issue in the arts where performers get paid less, performers are always … I’ve been quite lucky, I went to the conservatory, quite educated in the field and have the accolades to demand pay, but a lot of people in the parkour scene in particular, I see them getting taken advantage of again and again, and again in these contexts, the opportunity to perform. So what I want to do is create the parkour show that is for and by parkour practitioners. So I’ve already made some developments in that, I have two residencies to develop this show. The idea is, is that I will take a cast of three performers with some set choreography, every city we go to and we perform the show at the most popular parkour spot and we work with local performers to make the content. The audience comes to the parkour spot, they watch the parkour show about parkour, doing parkour at the parkour spot with no fake …

Craig: That’s organic as you can make it.

David: It’s as organic as you can make it. Some of the images from the show end up being really fun, so I like to pick apart people’s reasoning for training, so in the last residency I done, where each of these things ended a live show for invited audience, producers and things like that, and one of the performers had this superhero complex. So during the show, we brought helium balloons and we drew all the audience members’ faces, and we separate them around the parkour spot, and the performer, [Nina 00:33:58] had 10 seconds to get to the balloon or it got let go. So we introduced this balloon to the audience, “This is Laura, she’s a dentist and she loves her dog. If you don’t get here in 10 seconds …”

Craig: Eight, seven.

David: I always liked the image of people watching someone on a rail and following them. If you’ve ever watched someone follow someone walking on a rail, they’re foot placement is the same and they don’t realize it. There’s something beautiful about watching an audience follow someone on a rail.

Craig: Yeah, the mimicry.

David: So I had once, I had an artist, she was a physicist and we calculated the rate of impact for audience members, and we had another performer do movements and we calculated the level of impact that they’d have to sustain. So we skin all these different things and pick apart that culture to create almost, it’s like if you were making a scrapbook of things you were interested in, except I make a scrapbook of bits of performance in relation to these things and develop the show.

David: So currently, I’m applying for that to make the full version, I’m still undecided whether I’ll go with the community cast or maybe target a team that’s been in the culture the whole time. So just to summarize, the two directions I’m going is quite extreme duration-al performance art images, single parkour action, how many climb-ups does it take to get to space, what does that look like? More in line with the spectacle, bring your friends and family, you’re going to see some cool stuff, but you’ll also get an actual taste of our culture. One final image I think you’ll really appreciate in the show that’s being developed, we explain what parkour is in the show four or five times, but it’s never in English. So the audience perhaps will get a description of parkour, but you have to listen to the founders and a projection comes on over the performers, and then we hear the French explanation.

David: So I really wanted to tell the audience what parkour was, but never tell, as to turn the idea into something else. That’s currently my path, at least with performance, and with Ukemi, we handle the more traditional, walk up and do a few jumps style. So that’s the kind of, that’s the world I’m in with that stuff.


Injury, self-care, recovery [36:23]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig: So when you were talking earlier about being injured and how that foiled your attempts to do that particular Rail Marathon, I’m wondering, I’m always in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “What is something that I can find in each interview?” Because I love doing these just for having the conversations for own personal benefit, thank you very much, it’s great, but I’m also thinking, “Is there something that I can find that I can give people to go chew on?” I’m wondering if you have, could say if you have tips, but you could also just tell me what you do, what tips you have for, I call it self care? The sorts of things that you do to make sure that next week when I really want 100% out of my tendons, I’m not going to kill myself. I’m wondering if you have any conscious things that you do for recovery or times when I want to go do X, this big thing, but I know this is when I should be doing Y?

David: Yeah. It’s quite boring, but I do a lot of yoga. That tends to give me a foundation. I prefer to try and move every day, I prefer not to take a rest day if possible, even if that’s just active rest, like a short jog or a go for a few sun salutations, do a big of hanging. It’s important to keep moving.

Craig: Excellent. I call it a vitamin. Hanging is an excellent, brachiation is an excellent vitamin. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

David: I got that from, I done the Ido Portal online coaching.

Craig: That’s where I first got into like brachiation, I should be doing more of that. I haven’t done any of his courses and I’ve never talked to him, but that’s something that …

David: I’ll send you a program he sent me, if you like.

Craig: Thank you.

David: [crosstalk 00:38:04] I paid a lot of money for it, so it’s mine to give away. It was excellent information and it was great engaging with him. I would say to people listening, think about going down that route of his space. For me, more than anything, it confirmed what ingredients I should be using, getting it straight from the horse’s mouth. That’s what was a big benefit for me. But I just want him to release a book or something, and he isn’t lying when he says that all the things that will contact and he will train you can be found in his old blog, is it Angelic Blog or something like that. There’s a blog where someone’s curated all his ingredients.

Craig: I don’t think I’ve seen that one.

David: I guess on the tip of that is sometimes finding people that are experts beyond yourself. I think that you stay healthy by constantly experiencing stimulating yourself with new forms of movement, and sometimes that doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and trying to copy the person doing the biggest jump. Sometimes it’s putting your hand in the hat and pulling out …

Craig: Awkward item A combined with awkward item B.

David: Sometimes staying healthy means being the worst in the room, doing some yoga and eating healthy. I guess that would be the summary for me.

Craig: I think there’s deep wisdom in that, I would agree completely. That’s the way I look at it. You’ve got to be trying to squat while hanging, use a resistance band to pull my arms up while doing the squat, and it changes the way the loading works. There’s a bunch of …

David: I think the easiest way for people to access whats tailored to me to an extent, is find what you practice the most and try and do the opposite. So if you’re a power lifter and you lift heavy things off the ground, and you train under short durations, then you should find something that’s less intense that happens over a long duration for your recovery. If you spend all your time doing more flow based exercises that don’t necessarily have jagged stops and starts, then you should find a practice to recover that’s a little bit more centered. So I say the easiest access point for people, just find something that’s really good for them, find out the thing you’re doing the most and try and find a physical practice that is in direct contrast to that and inject it into your training.

Craig: Cool. I think that’s a terrific place to wrap up. As I said before, thank you for taking the time. I always hate stopping, because I’m always like, “Let’s just go forever.” But everybody has things they need to go do, and I’m sure that our paths will cross. You’re not that far from where I am. So hopefully, I will see you in the near future, but I’m sure I will see you at some point. So thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, David.

David: For my sign off, I’m going to sign off, find Ukemi, find me, you’ve got the Movement Card to get involved in, you’ve got the Rail Marathon to get involved in, and Ukemi, we’re running projects all the time. We have a lot of cool blogs and articles, we’re about to start campaigning for some new park spaces. So get in contact, get involved and hopefully I’ll train with some of the people listening here and I’ll get to meet you in the flesh one day, Craig.

Craig: I hope so. Thanks and enjoy the rest of your day, David.

David: Yeah, you too, pal.