(highlight) The thing I try to share the most when talking about parkour to non parkour practitioners or people who are just getting into it is that what you’re doing exactly doesn’t matter. It’s kind of the intention of your practice. And I think I’ve had this in my mind since I started was like it doesn’t matter what you do, doesn’t matter how far you jump or how big whatever your movement is. But it’s like the intention behind your practice. What are you pushing yourself towards? (/highlight)
(chapter) 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 102 with Mike Araujo. Coaching World Chase Tag and community. Playing tag on national television was never something Mike Araujo imagined when he started training parkour. He discusses his path in parkour and the opportunities he’s gained from it. Mike shares his experiences with World Chase Tag and his thoughts on competition. He explains his personal definition of parkour, sharing it with others and his thoughts on how the community has changed. Mike Araujo is an athlete and head coach with The Movement Creative. He has trained parkour in New York City for over a decade and coached nearly as long. Mike often travels for parkour and recently competed in World Chase Tag’s first USA based event. For more information go to moversmindset.com/102. Thanks for listening.
Movement and coaching [1:45]
(chapter) Welcome Mike. It’s a pleasure to get a chance to be outside. We are in an undisclosed location in Brooklyn and I’m super excited to talk to you for a bunch of reasons. First of all, I’m excited to talk to you because it is glorious outside and I think the last time that I saw you was at the parkour gym in the state where I live. And I watched you do … And I’ve actually … I went and looked it up on Instagram because it just makes me go, that … No. You did a lache. For those not into the lingo, that’s when you’re swinging on the bar with your hands. Lache means let go in French. So you’re swinging on the bar. Most people I’ve lost already. No, not a thing. Then let go and go somewhere intentional. Not just let go and land on your head in the hospital. So you did a thing where you grabbed the bar with two hands, swung back and forth … So far, so good. But you had the swing going so far that the back part of the swing was up into the upper part of the bars. You had to bend your legs to make space for a bar that was in the way. Maximum swing.
And then when you let go most people would think you swing and you go straight. No, Mike let go and went like 45 degrees to the right diagonally and landed on … It’s like a little object. It was pretty steady so it wasn’t going to move. Just a foot off the floor. But it’s the size of … Smaller than a phone book. Smaller than a text book. Now to the reality, I saw all the ones where you didn’t make it. And I love watching process. So I watched you do the process and when you did the first one, we call it a bounce off, and I was like, “Oh man, he’s going to do that.” And it was like whack. And when you stuck it, I was thinking, humans are awesome. That to me is like the quintessential mix of ape and homo sapiens’ curiosity. We love to make things. We want to explore. And I am going to ask a question. So my question is … Because I wanted to make sure that you remembered the thing because I thought it was a really impressive lache. And I’m wondering … I know how old you are. But you’re like 20 something. What would the you from, say elementary school, like as far back as you remember, what would the you from elementary school have thought, said, screamed, written, whatever seeing like that’s me doing that?
Well first, thank you. I do remember the lache you’re talking about.
Did I set the bar too high?
No. No. That’s a good question. I don’t know. I’d probably freak out big time. Like first starting I will admit the reason I started training was because the initial impression was parkour looks really cool. That looks like all the stuff that comics, video games, superheros, whatever I was into growing up, that’s it and these people are really doing it. So yeah, I think young me seeing that would … There would probably be some disbelief there that that was actually me. But also as a kid I ran around, jumped, did cartwheels and handstands just on my own. I was a pretty jumpy kid.
And I’m guessing at the age that you’re imagining when you answer that question, you probably didn’t know about parkour in that … Like that could be … Language words fail. That parkour could be that. Like a lot of people have an idea of what it could be and maybe your idea as a kid … That’s what I’m fishing for. But what was your idea as a kid? Was it thus the superhero and would that have blown your mind open because it was something different or just because it was like it’s huge?
Yeah, thinking back I was thinking under 10 years old is when I was first imagining there. If I were to imagine like when I first started training which was like 14, I think even then I’d be pretty astounded. I feel like back then laches where something you did from hands on the bar. You let go and you grab another bar. Most of the time lache to precision where you land on two feet wasn’t as much of a thing and definitely not at that sort of distance. I think with parkour gyms that movement has been explored way more.
Way more. Yeah. I don’t mean to belittle what you did. I’ve seen people do amazing things similar to that where you’re just like, “I know a lot about physics and momentum and I hope that really goes the … Oh, he made it.” I’ve seen people drop through little spaces and I often walk away going, “Man, humans are amazing.”
Like beyond. But it’s not a parkour podcast. People have pigeonholed me to think that it is, it’s not. I’m super interested in movement in general and I don’t mean to get all like from a philosophical point of view but everybody moves. Like my definition of dead is you come back to room temperature and you’re not moving. So setting aside the room temperature part it’s movement that is absolutely … I hate to say it’s a vitamin or it’s like nourishment, but it is. You have to move. If you don’t move … Well, what would happen to you if I said, “All right, you’re quarantined and you have to lay in this bed for …” I don’t know. How long could you do that before you lost your marbles?
I mean, there’s a few shows I want to catch up on so maybe for a while.
Well played. Netflix for the win.
No, not long. (quote) And I think when I first started training I was in this mindset of like, everyone needs to do parkour because this is like the thing and I tried to pressure all my friends to do it. Now as I’m older it’s like everyone needs to find the thing that moves them to move. Whether that be parkour or whatever other sport. I think as long as you’re moving and connecting with people and your environment and stuff then you’re on the right path. (/quote)
Once more for those in the back. I think that movement … So my brain is going … I read an article about singing and I may have this wrong but I believe that humans are the only species that … Like anywhere in the planet. That intentionally is on the ground and makes noise. Like birds will make noise on the ground but anything weird, they’re in the tree. Like monkeys live in the trees. Even like herd animals, they’re generally pretty quiet unless the male’s looking for the females or something going on. Generally they’re quiet because like when you make noise their predators go, “Hmm, noise.” And there’s something about we are drawn I think to make noise and to move. Because we light a fire and then we start singing and then we start dancing and all of a sudden it’s a conga line. But that happens. People don’t sit still. And if people are listening go, “Oh, I sit still all the time,” like maybe that’s not … The fact that you’re sitting still I don’t think is actually the problem. I think it’s a symptom. There’s something about your life that you have changed to, “No, I like sitting at my desk for seven hours punching keys or surfing Facebook,” or whatever you’re doing on your computer.
So I know you’ve got … I was going to say, a pretty extensive. You’ve got an extensive coaching experience and I’m wondering how far you got through your coaching experience. I’ve looked at some of the … The internet never forgets.
So I’ve looked at some of the things that you put out there from a coaching point of view and it seems you’ve … I was going to say matured but I don’t want to apply that you were immature but you’ve changed in your thinking. And I’m wondering like looking back on your first attempts to share this thing that you fell in love with, are there things that you would have done differently if you could go back and convince yourself to do something differently?
Probably. Yeah. I’m not sure if I can think of a specific thing but I think just the overall approach to if someone comes to a parkour class I think maybe back in the day I was thinking, how am I going to make this person fall in love with this practice that I so deeply love?
That’s a good point.
And I think now it’s not for everyone. The people I coach, the kids I coach, adults or kids or whoever, I don’t think the goal is to make them love it as much as I do, I think that’ll be their own little journey.
I’m going to say good luck.
Like most people don’t love it as much as you love it.
Yeah. I think that’s the other thing too is recognizing how much of a center point it’s become in my life. Not everyone’s going to be like wow, this movement practice is going to be the center of everything for me. But if it can become kind of towards their center, I think that’s important. Whether it be parkour as I practice it or the way it works for them as like a way to workout and a fun way to exercise and move a little bit more. Because so much of society … The way it’s structured it doesn’t lend itself to movement. Especially depending on-
So many visions of the subway.
Where you are. Yeah, yeah. But even the subway, at least on the subway you stand, you walk in and out of it, up and down stairs where outside of a metropolitan area you maybe walk to your car and then from your car you walk to your cubical and then you walk back to your car. And then you’re home and then you’re chilling and you’re doing whatever life stuff you have to but it’s maybe difficult for some people to feel like they can fit movement and of course there’s probably a whole conversation about how people feel about having to go to a gym to exercise to fit whatever society standards there are.
Yeah. And there’s … Yeah, society standards. Good way to put it. Because there’s always going to be timely issues. So we’re still in the end of the pandemic and I say end in a hopeful sense. Like hopefully we’re in the end.
Yeah. Fingers crossed.
But like you have those kind of situations. You can have problems with transportation and so like you can’t … Or oil problem and gas prices go through the roof and food becomes [inaudible 00:11:36]. There’s always something. There’s always going to be some external challenge. And that can be society or … I didn’t start really moving … Well, I was going to say like I move now and then I had a little moment of like … Depressing. But I didn’t start moving like I’d been moving recently until I was 40. I got to experience what happens when you change from the sedentary or societal imposed restrictions.
Making change [12:13]
(chapter) I’m super interested in how people can make change in their own life. And decades ago I would have loved to also tell you what change to make but for now I’m just like yeah, identify something you want to change and try that. And I’m thinking are there lessons you’ve learned about making change in your own life? And that could be like … One transition would be like, transition from kind of coaching to really coaching or transitioning from … I don’t know. I don’t want to put ideas in your head.
But I’m just wondering if there’s anything you think of when you look back at Mike’s life story, are there spots where you’re like, well that was a pretty big change? And then how’d you do that or what was the moment like when you decided you wanted to make that change?
I think maybe the biggest change most recently would be switching from an old job I had. I mean, it’s still coaching and the job is similar but I think it felt like a very big life choice at the time was switching from the gym I used to work at and switching over to Movement Creative now. It was a process. I was kind of at the job and very unhappy for a while but it was a pretty good employment situation for me. And the years leading up to the bad times were quite good.
Oh, the sunk cost fallacy, right? I’ve been here so long. I can’t quit now.
Right. It was a small gym that was growing but at the time it did feel like everyone was a family as the bosses like to say. But yeah, I don’t know. Approaching that change, it felt scary as most change does sometimes. But I think for that specific one I just kind of thought like, is this change going to make me happier and what parts of the current situation am I happy about? What am I not happy about? And then switching over, what do I think how those things would change? So it was a conversation of like, what’s important to me? What might be important to me a few years from now? And you only have so much time so you got to maybe choose the path a little bit more. I don’t know.
So maybe that visualizing, if I go this way probably like this. Visualize it and probably [inaudible 00:14:29]. Maybe I’m asking. Not putting words in your head but like visualizing may have been a key piece of-
Yeah, definitely. (quote) Like thinking all right, if I made this switch what could the next couple of years look like? And then also my position at the old gym was changing. So thinking about how is this going to continue to change and is that what I want? Is that what’s going to make me happy? And in what ways may or may not that make me happy? Like financially, socially, life goals situation, all that stuff. But I think with that type of change it’s something like you can visualize and think about but you don’t actually know what will happen until you make the change. (/quote) I made the change 2018 so I had like a year of Movement Creative and then it was a pandemic.
Didn’t visualize that did you?
Yeah, yeah. Which actually ended up working out very well. All of our programming’s out doors so we were able to return to work pretty quickly and unfortunately the gym I was working at has unfortunately closed due to COVID and some other issues. So it is a bit of … Looking back I’m like … Made a good call for myself there and so far so good on this change. But I think with that sort of change I don’t think anything is going to be permanently satisfying. I think as I continue on I’ll have to think about what changes I want to make.
So many threads to pull on. Sometimes I’m afraid I make people … Not you people listening. The people sitting across the table. I make them nervous because I get this look on my face like I’m about to jump or something. No, I’m just … There’s so many things I want to talk about. One thought, random. You can grab any one of these if you want or I can come up with more. One thought I had was the best course of action is to get to a place where you have some choices is like one thought I had while you were describing as you were sketching that out. Because then oh and then pandemic. And it’s like well, if you had been … And I’m not poo pooing the gym. If you had been at the gym you probably would have had zippo say in whether or not they stayed open because you can’t control people coming to the gym or the state closed. You’re just like, no control. Whereas the choice that you made was to one of more freedom or maybe even just more responsibility because that means you’d have more freedom to go with it.
So that’s one thing that jumped to mind was that. I don’t know if you … Had you have made that … One question, 17 parts. Part one. Do you agree with what I just yammered on about? Part two, had you noticed it before I just said it?
Rephrase it one more time for me.
So while you were describing the change I had the idea that what you did was move from a situation of less control to more control.
And that isn’t something you just specifically said when you were talking about it. And then I said my question in two parts is part one, do you agree with what I’m saying, my summary, my analysis? And then the second part is, had you ever thought of that before I just said it right now?
So yes, definitely. Not to dig into the weeds of what happened with the gym but basically I was almost getting promoted in a way. But by stepping into this other role it meant I was further removed from a hands on position of the parkour program. We did parkour, rock climbing and skateboarding. So they wanted me in a position where I was kind of seeing or like overseeing all the programs. Which sounds really exciting and was really awesome but I was at a position where I was like, I don’t really … I don’t want to say I don’t care about rock climbing and skateboarding but-
It’s not your passion. Right.
It’s not my passion. Yeah. Out of all three I want to be hands on and I tried to communicate that and wasn’t what they could offer me at the time.
How? They have their own. They got a need. They got a thing. And you look like you fit in this.
Absolutely. Absolutely. So speaking with Jesse, which is an old time friend and I’d worked with The Movement Creative beforehand, we talked about what they could offer me as a position that was similar to what I had going on and then also it definitely was a position of control. Jesse, who runs The Movement Creative, he wants to offer a platform where mostly we offer coaching but are there other ways that people can carve out kind of their own place for parkour and trying to make some sort of living off of it. So while I am the head coach of the company and most of my job is coaching, there is room for me to say like, “Oh, I want to set up this type of event,” and I will be given the space for that, which is exciting for sure.
Podcast is brought to you by coffee and dogs. No coffee today but there is a dog. Yeah, I think … Sorry, I’m really good at maintaining multiple trains of thought and sometimes I say things like that sound like I’m … Yeah, whatever Mike. No, I think that’s a very good observation that you’re noticing, “Yes, this sounds like a great opportunity on paper but it’s not really making me get excited and that’s a really important …” Because guess who has to get up with Mike every morning? Mike has to get up with Mike every morning and decide, do I want to go and put the fire out or do I want to go in and teach?
World Chase Tag [20:09]
(chapter) What about … On one hand I want to talk about chase tag but I kind of feel like there’s better tribbles afoot. What about chase tag … Maybe we should unpack that briefly. In case you’re going, wait, you guys keep saying World Chase Tag like it’s an actual sport. Oh, yes, it is. They being the people who build the event … Was that course built by-
The course we played on was built by Mark Toorock.
That’s what I thought.
Mark Toorock built. I didn’t want to name drop and get it wrong. So they hire the people who produce the show. It’s a TV show. People who produce the show hire professionals to build … It’s basically a parkour playground with like platforms and bars and I look at it and all I see is all the places where I would hit my head and kill myself. Like it’s a space and it has a boundary. And they play variations of two person tag with time limits. And tag is fun. I’ve played tag with some people that it wasn’t fun to play. They were like, “And go.” I’m tagged. What? I was like, “Where’d he come from?” If they’re coming at you faster than the speed of light you don’t see them before they get there. So they have a professionally built space so it’s safe and it’s parkour interesting for people who have the vision for that. Now, that’s the setup for this. Now my question is, what made you go, oh, I totally got to do that?
It looked fun.
Yeah. I said it looked fun but i didn’t go and do.
Other than the fact that I’m old and slow. But I don’t qualify. The token trauma patient. Self deprecating humor.
What made me want to go and give it a try?
What made you have to go and give it a try? Because lots of people want to do it but you were one of the people on … What was it the 5 Borough team?
5 Borough. Yeah, yeah.
I think it was the opportunity. Say again.
So you bring five pack animals with you on the … Sorry.
Yeah. I’m not even from the state of New York so I’m allowed to make fun.
It’s all good. It’s all good.
What made you say I have to go and participate in that?
In general, approaching competition with parkour as a bit of a filter there. I think it’s an interesting space to apply parkour. I think there’s just a novelty to it. It adds a little bit of something new to your training. And the opportunity presented itself. I think I kind of got wind that an event was being planned and I reached out to a few people and the event took place in October of 2020 so we were still pretty in … I mean we’re still in the pandemic. But it was an opportunity to go to kind of the only parkour event that happened last year.
Right. Yeah. Not much happened.
Yeah. And it could have been a terrible experience. It could have been awful. I didn’t know going into it. I’d never worked with the guys who organize it but they’ve run a few events in the UK and from what I had heard they were good guys. So I tried it out and it was a really good experience. Just to note what you were talking about with the setup is so the course that we play on, it’s referred to as the quad. And it is this course that has a boundary. I won’t say a big it is because I’m so bad with measurements and eyeballing but it’s fairly large.
It’s like two seconds by two seconds.
Yeah. So the original setup was actually built by the … I guess you’d say the owners of World Chase Tag, Christian and Damien Devaux and one of them have a kid on Team Phat, a team based in London. So the original quad was actually set up in their backyard. They built it. They just played tag with their kids. The story they give is like, we just play tag and we setup some obstacles and we kept adding stuff.
Kept getting more complicated.
Yeah. And eventually I believe the first event was called The Storror Chase Off, which was supposed to be like … It had Storror playing in it and some other athletes as well. And then I think from there it became World Chase Tag and they added more and more elements to it. And yeah, it’s growing as a sport.
In thinking of your experience like on the ground when you’re there like oh, here we go, what surprised you most about it?
I don’t know if it was a surprising part of the experience but I think I have to give kudos to Damien and Christian where they were so focused and it was definitely a priority for them that the athletes were taken care of and provided anything they needed. Part of it was like due to COVID. So it shot in Atlanta which means a lot of us were traveling from around the country. You hear the setup and you’re like, this sounds really sketchy. It’s the middle of a pandemic and you’re going to have people from all over the US travel to this one place, a place that doesn’t have many COVID restrictions, and tell them to try and run at and touch each other. So on paper you’re like, this sounds like the not best thing to do.
I am all in.
So the event that took place was … It was shot with NBC Sports. So it’s quite a large production.
We’re not kidding around here.
Yeah. There was another sponsor as well. I think that helped make the production happen. But because they decided to go for it during a pandemic it meant the costs of the event when way up. Where every athlete … We all had to be tested before we left which was on us. Fortunately in New York testing is free. And then once we arrived we stayed at a hotel and the hotel they chose was a very, very nice hotel. And they said the reason they picked that hotel was because the hotel was able to offer catering and stuff that had like single wrapped utensils and they were able to make everything-
Oh, the handle.
Yeah. Like it made it safer than other places if they were trying to provide food. Everyone had to quarantine for a day so that’s like an extra day for them to pay for a hotel for not only all the athletes but so much of the production team.
They had to pay for tests for everyone. They had to pay for medical staff. They had to do all these things and at that point I’m sure they were both like this is purely for the … Not purely for the experience but I don’t imagine they made much money from it. Which I don’t think was their goal at all.
Sounds more like they were just passionate about creating the thing. Go on YouTube and find this. You have to see this. It’s just like what? I mean-
Yeah. I can only assume that they know or they feel that they have something special.
I would agree. I think it’s pretty special. Yeah.
Absolutely. So yeah, before moving on to any more specifics I guess, the experience overall was extremely positive. Even from … I don’t know, I’ve heard some nightmare stories from like Ninja Warrior about how the athletes are treated and told to wait around and whatever else. But it was really whatever we needed, they were like-
Very athlete focused as opposed to production, final result focused.
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I think they’re aware that the-
The athletes are the thing.
Mad props to Toorock. It’s a beautiful quad. And then there are people which make it neat. So yeah. I’m pretty sure Mark posted a couple of shots of some of the construction and how it went together. And yeah, and it’s just … I think I’ve said it about 12 times. Humans are awesome. It’s just neat to see what people come up with.
I have to say Mark is like a wizard for building the quad and the quad was amazing. But when it was time to break down parkour fashion, of course all the athletes helped to break down the set and load it into a truck. And Mark had like the Tetris layout of all these big obstacles in his brain and was just-
This goes here. That’s goes there. Turn this that way.
Yeah. Organizing people. Keeping everyone safe who was moving stuff around. Just got to give Mark props for that because that was an impressive breakdown and then we all went to the after party after.
Mark is in episode 30 I’m pretty sure. And we talk about a bunch of things. We don’t talk about World Chase Tag because that was before that. But yeah, that was a good conversation with him. Yeah. And you can totally see that. Well, his backstory is in the episode but you can totally see oh, I know where that comes from, like as part of his brain.
But it’s super neat to see people who take a skill and a passion and just smash them together. These don’t go together but we’re just going to smash them together and make something out of it. And I’m not saying that Mark necessarily did that, smashed them together. But it’s amazing what … Like you see people doing bouldering problems, which my current addiction is bouldering. I see people do stuff and you’re just like, it’d be much easier to just walk around the rock and walk up the other side of the rock than to kill yourself on that V5 on the front. But oh, this is so much more fun. And if I jam my knee in here … But it’s that urge that I think everybody has. I mean, maybe some people think they don’t have it and you probably need to go experiment because it’s there. The urge that everybody has to explore.
Defining and sharing parkour [29:29]
(chapter) And earlier I was thinking I should ask you what is parkour?
Oh man, you’re going to put me on the spot like that.
It’s a horrible question.
Yeah. It’s about moving from A to B as efficiently as possible and definitely nothing else.
Do we need to unpack that? I think we need to unpack the and definitely nothing else. So as with everything there are internet wars fought over the question I just asked Mike. And the reason I ask … I actually have a reason to ask it. The reason I asked it is because it’s the thing that everybody asks you and it’s like the most annoying thing. The same people ask me about rock climbing ask me, “Why do that?” I’m just like, “That’s a stupid question.” It took me a long time to like … And maybe everybody else in the world is way ahead on this. It took me a long time to realize like people are asking me the question that makes my blood boil from a place of genuine curiosity. Which I should not respond to by punching them in the face because it’s a stupid question. So I’m just wondering when … I’m assuming people ask you this question. When you get asked that question what do you do with it? If you know what parkour is you’ll totally recognize Mike’s A to B answer. And if you don’t know what parkour is, now you’ve heard the A to B answer.
And I’m just wondering like, in your mind and in your heart, what is it that happens and that you do when somebody asks you that question but you can see it’s from like okay, they’re a completely blank slate. They can spell parkour and then that’s the limit.
Park our. Hey, at least they’re thinking about parks. I’ll take it.
I think there is a few different answers I give and it depends on the situation I’m in. So as a coaching company we often have people curious about what our classes are like and what type of practice they’re getting into. You have people ask you on the street while you’re practicing.
What are you doing? What are you doing?
And then I guess because I am so close to this thing I want to give … If you let me go here I’ll go and go and go. But I think most of the time is a genuine curiosity. I think the thing we do can look a little bit absurd-
To the normal passer by, right? So what is parkour? Man, I don’t know if I want to go on the record for this one.
Yeah. You can skirt around that.
No. No. Yeah I mean I usually just say … Most of the time I’ll say I’m just exercising or I’m working out or-
That’s a good low hanging fruit because you are doing that.
Yeah. And it depends. I don’t even know. There’s so many answers I would give to someone. But generally I’m just telling people yeah, I work out. It’s all about using movements your body’s made to do. Like running, jumping, climbing, swinging, whatever else. And I think that gives … I don’t dive into the philosophical side of training. I mean along with the physical side I think the philosophy of parkour is also probably evolved quite a little bit for most people who practice or it might be nonexistent for some people who practice now.
It’s a journey, no pun intended. Like everybody’s going to go through a journey. Like you can do that in jiu jitsu or martial arts. First you pick up something … In fact, there’s probably somebody who has a doctoral dissertation which has the 17 step program of how you … When you take a mastery practice up. So pick up anything that you can take to a mastery level, plumbing, parkour, the literature or whatever, that you’re going to go through these phases where it’s the greatest thing ever and everybody needs to drop what they’re doing and learn my … Okay, that’s one phase. And there’s another phase where you take it and you go become a recluse and you’re just like, “I’m going to Gerlev and nobody’s going to see me for two years and I’m just going to jump on all the things.” So there’s definitely those phases you go through. And for me, I don’t get asked that question a lot. Actually ironically, the way I get asked that question is I go to events and people will point me out and say, “Well, Craig probably knows.” Like stop doing that.
When that question comes up though I think what I struggle with is I have so much that I want to share. Not it’s A to B or it’s not A to B or it’s jumps or it’s not jumps. That’s not what I mean. I want to share like the 5,000 awesome experiences that I’ve had doing the vaguely parkour art du déplacement free running thing in all the places that I’ve done the thing with all the people. And my brain locks up like running, jumping, climbing, playing. Like what can I say that would possibly convey enough about this thing that we all love so much? Those of us who do it. That we love so much. And to me that’s always a struggle. And so lately what I’ve been doing is the two part. I like to whip out the challenge aspect of it. Because nobody looks at me and thinks I’m any kind of an athlete so it’s like, “Yeah, I like the part where it’s a personal challenge using found spaces in your environment.” And then like with a quick breath, I try to sell them on the … Like when they walk away they’re like, “That guy is really excited about whatever it is.”
Like I try to share the enthusiasm. Not ram the enthusiasm down their throat but just share it. Because I think that’s how you … Maybe not inspire. That’s how you spark … You know, I got a candle, I light your candle. The way you share that is by just being the … I love it. And people are like, “I don’t get it.” And then they go away. And other people are like, “I don’t get it but I love it too.” And I’m just wondering if you find that this how you have transitioned to instead of actually trying to answer the question you’ve transitioned to this like trying to share the passion.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I definitely have had people ask me, what are you doing?
In that tone. What are you doing? I’m climbing down officer. Yes. That’s what I’m doing.
I feel like sometimes … Obviously there’s security and those people that ask. But I feel like a lot of the times the people who will stop and look and ask will be older people, seniors walking by. They’ll look at it with this curiosity and be like, “What are you doing?” And I’ll give whatever answer and they’ll be like, “Why?” My favorite answer is just like for fun.
Yeah. That’s a great answer.
Like this is fun.
For a while I tried, “Well, you used to do parkour too. When did you stop?”
Because everybody did. But then I realize that’s too antagonistic because now I’m like you lazy … It makes me sound like I’m judging them when I really wasn’t. I was saying this is in you. The prehensile tail that just isn’t expressed, it’s in your genes. Some people actually have a tail. I’m not making this up.
It’s in your genes. People who’ve never done any brachiation swing and arm stuff, you take them out somewhere … Especially if it’s woods. And just have them use their hands. Guess what? Everybody knows how to use their hands. It’s just like … Your brain. That’s hooked in there. So I used to think that I could maybe give them a glimpse of what was already within them by saying, well you used to do parkour. And they’re like, no, it doesn’t work. It comes across as too antagonistic and that’s why … Yeah, I’m just kind of trying to share the passion.
Yeah. I actually do like to mention to people while I’m talking about it. I was like, it’s all just stuff … Like you’re built to do everything that we’re doing at a different level.
Yeah. I don’t recommend doing the lache that Mike did when you find that one on Instagram. My brain ran it in slow motion and I had like 9,000 like no, no, no I’m not, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. There’s no way I would ever do that. Not because it’s inherently dangerous but because I would never be able to do that.
I mean for a brand new person, if someone was like, “Oh, teach me parkour. Show me something right now.” I wouldn’t put them up on a bar and be like-
That’s tough right? Because what caught their eye was … I mean, get down from there. Like you’re balancing on a railing. There’s that, right? And somebody says, “Get down from there. You’re going to hurt yourself. Isn’t that dangerous?” And then okay, I get down. My favorite answer is, “Well, it wasn’t dangerous until you distracted me.” That’s my favorite answer.
But so you come down and then oh, this is actually a person who’s interested. So now I’m having a conversation and they say, “Show me something.” And then my heart sinks because I’m like, the thing that caught your eye, you got a glimpse … Not that Craig or Mike … You caught a glimpse of something that you could do or be or explore. And now when you ask me that question I’m like okay, so we’re going to go over here and we’re going to pick on this four inch curb.
Check out this line on the ground.
Let me see you touch your toes. I’m like that can be a challenge. I don’t know. My personal belief is if everybody who was into the thing just like exemplify it. So like ask … We were talking about Max before. Ask Max Henry to do some jumps. You’re going to be like, “Wow. I’m not doing those jumps but wow.” Like you’re going to see something about humans when you see a really good jumper or watch somebody do a triple jump. What? You’re like holy toledo. My brain’s like tendons. So if you just … Whatever your hobby is, if you just exemplify it and show the passion, don’t even have to physical just share, just show the passion. What made me think of this was this brings me back to World Chase Tag. When you watch these people do World Chase Tag you’re going to be like oh … You’re going to like want to throw your keyboard down and run out and play chase. And then you’re going to be like, “Whoa, I can’t touch my toes anymore.” But maybe if they see the passion in a World Chase Tag competition or as you did in Jump London …
(highlight) If you don’t know what Jump London is type Jump space London in YouTube. Or if you see Seb do the Casino Royale run or you watch video from … Maybe that would be enough to ignite the passion for you to decide, I’m going to walk to lunch from my office. Or I’m going to go for a bike ride or a walk instead of watch whatever. That’s my personal opinion is I’ve come around to like the nah, I’m just going to share the passion as much as I can. It isn’t a tremendous amount. I have a limited amount of energy. But I’m just wondering if like … It sounds like you’ve been kind of veering toward that way but as a coach you’re still like directly tasked with deliver the thing. And I’m just wondering if you see yourself moving more and more toward inspiring other coaches or moving more toward imagining ways of delivering the material? What’s next beyond coaching?
There were a few things there.
I tend to do this. Would you like a sip from my fire hose?
So yeah, going back I think often what is eye catching … Even if someone’s like, “Oh, show me something,” and you walk over, you ask them if they can do a squat, which they may or may not be able to do properly. And it made me wonder as you were saying it if my first experience of parkour being something that was 15 years ago, Jump Britain with Sebastien Foucan. Obviously everything they did in that documentary was amazing. Today or even at the time especially. But I wonder if now, someone being exposed to parkour seeing Roof Culture Asia or Ed Scott doing these flip precisions to railings.
Oh my god. Yes.
That’s something we joked about. That was a ha ha back-
Yeah, they post it on the board. Yeah. Let me see you do this. People do that. Max striding the tops of columns that are impossibly far apart.
Yeah. Even that type of movement. Right?
People on slack lines. I mean, there’s just so much stuff.
Yeah. Max is a great example because he’s got beautiful stride technique and you can watch him stride across rails or columns or whatever and I think because of where he’s doing it, it immediately becomes this thing where some people are like, “That looks really cool.” And sometimes people have also the reaction of like, “But I could never do it.” But if they were to watch a triple jumper on a track, the idea might be like, “I could do that with a bunch of training. He’s just had a bunch of practice and he’s an athlete. He’s in sports.” Whereas, you watch Max stride up high or on something extremely precise, you’re like, oh, he’s doing something superhuman, potentially. Because most people are so disconnected from movement as a whole, maybe they identify more with an organized sport. But then you see people out on the street doing things and I think the shift is like, “That’s a little bit more risky. I could never do that because of X, Y, and Z.” And they don’t see the process that Max had of literally striding on the floor. Or any athlete. We all practice jumping on the floor before we go even half a foot off the ground.
Yeah. The elite level that … For example, Olympics. But there are other elite venues for performance and competition. But at that elite level, you’re getting to the point where standard ante for the game is all your passion, all your effort, 100%. That’s the ante. And then did you get the DNA draw? Did you get the coach? There’s all this other stuff you really can’t control that much. Then maybe you can get to that preme Olympic level. And what I’ve always loved about art du déplacement parkour is, no, I got off the sofa … I mean, not literally off the sofa. I got off the sofa when I was 40 and just went, “I don’t know. I can’t even do a push-up.” And I’m not good but all of my progress … Some people in my age cohort go, “Oh my god.” Like people who are my age. So when you see people like Max Henry or I’m going to say even yourself, you’re not anywhere near the top fraction of a percent of the Olympic competitors in terms of DNA and genes. It’s like, no, you did everything that you could with what you were given. So you tend to find your own path. You find your own skillset. You find your own …
There’ll probably be Olympic chase taggers at some point who would run over the people who are currently winning. But I think just the random people who see it, they miss out. They’re like, no, the things you think are amazing and dangerous and spectacular, they’re actually more achievable for you than the triple jump at the Olympics or the world class rock climber. Now, there’s an asterisk on this. There are people in parkour and ADD and movement spaces who are operating at that level and they are up there at that level. But most people that you would see-
Yeah. I think the thing I try to share the most when talking about parkour to non parkour practitioners or people who are just getting into it is that what you’re doing exactly doesn’t matter. It’s kind of the intention of your practice. And I think I’ve had this in my mind since I started was it doesn’t matter what you do, doesn’t matter how far you jump or how big whatever your movement is, but it’s the intention behind your practice. What are you pushing yourself towards? Obviously there’s a container of that where you’re using only your body and the environment, but I think other than that parkour is just a practice where you’re trying to connect with your body by using your environment around you. And I think that makes it highly accessible for anyone to do it as a sport. Whether it be someone who’s highly athletic, someone who might be older and trying to start moving again, or in many other ways as well. It’s a sport that requires no equipment and no specific space. (/highlight)
Yeah. It’s a very adjustable wrench that you can apply to many different things. That’s one thing that I think makes it special is that … I guess in the same sense as skateboarding or snowboarding. It’s like, okay, you need a skateboard. We kind of agree. Skateboarding uses a skateboard. But even that, how big is it? Whatever you want. What can you do with the skateboard that you picked? So I think that’s … I think it might have been Max Henry’s definition of parkour was skateboarding without the skateboard. It’s like, Max looks like he’s skateboarding without a skateboard. I do not look like a skateboarder. But anyway.
(chapter) If I asked all your friends what is Mike’s superpower, what would they tell me?
Sometimes I think it’s too good because it’s a little hard to answer, but it is a good question. And you’re-
Yeah. Do I go realistic or slightly self deprecating?
Or you could do both. You could answer in two parts.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Self deprecating answer would be … See, my self deprecating answer is everybody who knows me is like, “Craig is really good at eating. That’s Craig’s superpower.”
Oh, honestly, if you ask the right person, they might say that I’m constantly eating. Constantly. I’ve somehow got this nickname of Fat Mike by a few … Not widespread, but it started as a joke and-
He says into the microphone. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
No, it’s widespread. Now everyone will know. But yeah, it’s like a running joke with a few friends of mine that I’m constantly eating and always obsessed with … Which is true. I do like food and stuff.
But what are you eating? You’re not eating Doritos.
No, no. Right. Exactly.
I left my junk food life behind me.
Sometimes I indulge though, honestly.
So maybe it’d be better to say you’re obsessed with what you eat and that’s why you love it so much. Like this is really good, nourishing, tasty, yummy food. That’s my problem.
Oh, I wouldn’t go that far.
Yeah, I wouldn’t go that far.
I was trying to walk you back from the self deprecating-
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean-
You just grabbed the Twinkie and jumped.
I think overall I’m pretty good in terms of my diet and nutrition but I am a New Yorker so I do love hot dogs, pizza, bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll.
I came in through the Holland tunnel and as I’m driving through the tunnel I said, “You know what, I really need to not tick all the New York City boxes that I haven’t been able to tick for two years.” And I’m like, “Pretzel vendor and then I want a hot dog and I want a piece of pizza and then I want a Brooklyn Blackout from the Doughnut Plant.” I was like, “Oh, this is so bad.” So it’s all about food.
Oh, doughnuts have been big for me lately. Yeah, it’s great. It’s great stuff.
Okay. So that’s the self deprecating answer. My superpower is eating. But if I asked them, “Okay, that’s funny. But I want a serious answer, dear friends of Mike,” what would they say your superpower is?
Oh. I don’t know. I haven’t seen some friends in over a year so I’m not sure.
He’s become invisible.
Yeah. No. I guess I’m going to say I try to be funny, like kind of goofy, and keep things light. Not in an unprofessional manner but I try not to take things too seriously or personally in life. Yeah. Everyone’s got their own … I think about my story, the movie that is my life, and how complex it is and most people have something even more complex going on.
Perspective. Yes. Amen.
I believe the word is sonder. It’s like the feeling you get when you realize the extras in your life, the background people, have a life as complex as yours and you’re just another background person.
Yes. I’m not sure that’s the right word but it’s totally making my brain go yes, that word. Yeah. I think the way I read it was like … And I don’t mean this in a negative way but it might be that the whole purpose of Craig’s life was to flick on the lights in his living room at the moment that somebody was having a romantic moment across the way and it just made the building look nice. It’d just be like one teeny, tiny little moment where my life intersected with a person that … That idea of like if you’re looking across the way and you see the light come on, there’s a lot of life going on that led to that one light switch.
Yeah. It’s perspective. Mike’s superpower is perspective. I’ll take that one.
You said it, not me.
That’s how it works. That’s the advantage of asking the question, what would your friends say, because then you can kind of be like, “Well, they’d say I was faster than a speeding bullet.” Because then it doesn’t sound like you think you’re faster than a speeding bullet.
(chapter) Who’s the first person that comes to mind when I say abject failure? No. Just kidding. Who’s the first person that comes to mind when I say successful?
Jeff Bezos. No. I’m going to go with Jesse Danger, my boss and longtime friend. And I’ll also go with my friend Dylan Polin who runs the Hub Parkour Training Center in Massachusetts.
I got to get up there. I haven’t interviewed Dylan yet.
Oh, I highly recommend.
Yeah, and I’ve talked to him a lot.
I think he’s ready to talk.
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:50:19]. Yeah. Me and Steve and some people, we were talking about doing a project and we’re like, “Yeah. I need to go up there.” I had a great conversation with … I want to say Jeremiah. Was down at an event on Governor Island and I had some great conversations with those guys and I’m just like, “Yeah. I have a list of 150 people that I need to go have conversations with.” So yeah, I need to get there. But that’s one that’s within reasonable distance. Easy for me to get to.
Sorry. I asked you the … Okay. So successful, we did that.
(chapter) Are you … I don’t like to ask are you introverted or extroverted. What I mean is do you recharge by yourself or do you recharge with other people or is recharge time for Mike a certain kind of training? What do you do to fill the tanks back up?
Yeah. Probably a year ago I’d say slightly more extroverted and I enjoyed spending time with friends. But maybe it’s a symptom of the pandemic but more recently I’ve been, I think, enjoying being alone. Maybe alone is not the best word. Alone or with my girlfriend or whoever and just some chill down time I guess. And also my personal practice has become very clearly something I need. Doesn’t have to be a hard session. Doesn’t have to be super intense where I film a bunch of Instagram clips, but yeah, the past year was a little tough with trying to refrain from going outside so much, not being able to go to a gym during the cold season, all this stuff. So my movement practice has been more inconsistent in the past year than it has been in quite some time so I’m remembering I guess how important movement is to me.
So more so than whether I’m with people or not with people, I think moving, connecting to myself that way is important.
Yes please. I would definitely agree with that. The challenge is always like … Sometimes the hammock calls. You’re like, I’m just going to … Some people talk about meditation, sometimes those people are me. Talk about meditation and sometimes people say, “Oh, when I meditate I fall asleep.” And I’m like, “You have learned a very important lesson. You’re sleep deprived.” If you fall asleep meditating, what you should be doing is napping. Meditate later. So I think anything … Maybe I should put an asterisk on there. Almost anything that you do that makes you become more reflective will pay dividends in the near future. You’ll be like, “Oh, I really am extroverted. I need more people. Okay, I need to get in a Zoom call and hang out with friends or something.” So I’m hoping … I don’t want to say that good comes from the pandemic but I’m hoping that people remember the experience when they have the freedoms that they didn’t realize it was nice to have. So that like, what would happen if everybody is just a little bit nicer on the roads or on the subways or just because they’re like, “Hey, other human beings. This kicks ass.” That might be a really nice change. Because there are parts, there are aspects of … Especially in America where it cuts both ways.
We’re really good at getting stuff done. We’re really good at being driven. But that can also mean we … Turn signals? I always say forget world peace, visualize using your turn signal.
Yeah. There’s that shopping cart experiment where it’s like do you return the shopping cart or not and that apparently tells you everything you need to know about a person.
Oh. Not only do I return the shopping cart, I’ve been spotted scooping up other ones on the way back. I’m also the guy … Because I’m fairly tall and I have long arms, I’m also the guy who grabs the … If I grab a half and half I grab the two behind it and drag them to the front in the refrigerator.
Nice. That’s good stuff right there. That’s good stuff.
Because otherwise I get stopped. Like every woman who’s shorter than me goes, “Could you grab …” And I’m walking down the aisle grabbing things from the top shelf in the back. But I don’t mind. With great power comes great mental illness. No. Great responsibility. Knew I could work that one in today.
All right. I still need to pry a story out of you. And because I do so many of these and I listen to a lot and I hang out in groups of people who do podcasting and interviewing I have a million great questions and I don’t want to just rattle them off because it’s like a trained poodle. Look, I can stand on my legs. Look. So it’s much more fun to like, what’s the right question to ask Mike? Yeah. I don’t know.
Events and community [55:05]
(chapter) What was the biggest question on your mind when we emailed you and said, “Hey, you want to do a podcast?”
The biggest question was what am I going to talk about?
How’s that worked out so far?
I think so.
(highlight) Super. Super. I thought about what experiences I may have had that I can offer interesting insight into. So yeah, I know World Chase Tag was one and then from there, kind of the world of competition in parkour. And then that had me thinking what was 2020 like for parkour and how did it change? Because we’re a very event driven community.
But we didn’t use to be. Before I started it didn’t use to be.
Used to be very much an organic, three or four people jumping on stuff kind of thing.
Yeah. My first training session was … Mark Toorock used to be on the Urban Freeflow team. So he was, as far as I know back then, bouncing between London and the east coast. My first jam where I learned about parkour. I’d done it in my neighborhood and then we found a website and all this stuff, whatever. We go to this training session, a jam, and there were probably over 30 people there. And this is in 2005.
That’s a lot. That’s big.
Like late 2005. So me and my brother got there because I needed a chaperone to get on the subway. And yeah, it was like, wow, this is a thing. This is a thing people do. So we hung out all day and I probably … Yeah. Even though it’s quite a while ago it’s a very clear memory in my head. But the next jam I went to that was posted on the message board at time was two people and that was it. And then moving forward that’s what it was most likely. It was me and maybe two other people. Maybe five-ish if it was a weekend and people wanted to come out and it was nice weather. But yeah, it was very small and as time went on bigger events or bigger jams started happening. This idea of the national jam in the US started happening where different cities would host these larger weekend gatherings and I think even back then a big one would be considered maybe 30-ish people. And now you have these events in camps.
Multi hundred people.
Yeah. Very crazy. I think the largest one I’ve been to maybe … I don’t know. So hard to tell because people kind of come in and out. I know Beast Coast has had quite a large turnout. But more recently I’d say 4 the Love of Movement, hosted in Den Haag, was such a crazy turnout because it’s a camp. So no one really needs to leave. We got there one day early and it was like, oh, there’s some people here and-
This is nice.
Yeah. So there’s the main setup for training and then there was another scaffold set up purely for hammocks. And-
For the hanging humans.
Yeah. We set up ours and it was like, oh, there’s a few people. And then by the end of the next day which is like the official first day, any part where you could strap a hammock was tiered three high at least. Like there was someone above you, under you. People also just laid on the floor under you so you had to be careful getting out of the hammock. And it was such a crazy experience to kind of be in a place for a weekend and you don’t have to leave, all the food is provided for you. There’s a little store around the corner. You’re surrounded by people who want to do the same thing as you. And yeah, I mean, starting from my first jam and going to there, I wouldn’t have imagined that’s where parkour would go. To these weekend camps, these multi hundred people events.
For 4 the Love of Movement there’s no specific thing to go for. There’s no workshop. I mean, there’s high level athletes there I guess you could meet, but there’s no coaching going on. There’s no speaking or anything like that like you might get at some other events. Everyone travels in literally just to train and that’s it. I think some events in the US have a similar thing. Up in Boston there’s the Hub Jam, which they’ve pretty much had the same formula every year is come and hang out this weekend and we’re all going to train. And it kind of kicks off the training season. Late spring, early summer. But there’s nothing special to go there for. I mean, obviously parkour is special to everyone who goes there but there’s no-
Yeah. There’s no big spreadsheet like be here at two and be there at three. I think there’s an ecosystem or a spread of types of events. And really in there in the mix is structured classes in a built space like the classic parkour gym. I think that’s a kind of gathering. And yeah, it happens on Tuesday at 7:00 and you show up with 17 friends or whatever. And all those different things, I think those are all necessary. For a while I used to think, “Oh, I should be training outside. You’re in a built space.” Like if it’s so cold your hands are numb, then run faster or go inside. Quit with the … Do your pushups indoors. But now I’m thinking like no, it really is … If we want whatever this movement practice is that we all love, if you want that to really be approachable by everybody then you need to figure out what … Oh, this person? They need to have a drill sergeant tell them to do their burpees and then do the thing and then run here and then sprint there and then come back and do this. They need that. They need the one on one. Let’s go train with [inaudible 01:00:34].
Then there are people who are like, “Yeah. Okay. We’re going to walk on this line and learn balance.” So there’s going to be different things that are just going to call to each person. And I just love … Even in the United States you look around and you’re like, “There’s this jam over here. This one’s been going for a million years. This one is huge and organized and there’s scheduled speakers and everything’s scheduled to five minutes. And then this one over here is just like hey, whatever, show up.” I love that because you can … If you’ve got the cajones and you want to go push yourself, you can go to … Oh, I don’t want to go to that event because it scares the crap out of me. I’m going. I’ve done that kind of thing. And boy, does that make you grow? Like what did I do? But invariably, as long as you’re reasonably smart about it, you’re not going to get into serious trouble. You know?
Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly the reason I go-
But that’s like the DNA. The DNA is like yeah, we got everything. What do you want? And who are you? Then go where you’re called. Go where you feel you’re called. Not where they actually call you like, “Craig, get over here.” Not that kind of call. Go where you feel compelled to go.
Yeah. I think you see something like Rendezvous, which is a good mix of structured lessons or workshops, whatever you might want to call it, and there’s plenty of free time to train on your own, to meet more people and that’s such a good balance. And then you have something like Art of Motion or NAPC, which is a competition. You’re more likely going to go there if you are a high level athlete or you’re practicing specifically for competition. But even those events, the event itself has no … I don’t want to say it doesn’t have the community aspect to it. But people are there to compete. Not necessarily to train or to practice. They’re there to compete. But on either side of the events you have people showing up a few days early. You have people staying like a week late. Because they know that for the weekend I’m in competition mode and I got into competitions like NAPC and stuff. Not because I’m hyper competitive. In fact like ball sports growing up like never called to me. Like the basic stuff. The common sports. But it added this novelty to my practice and I recognized I was uncomfortable in that space. So how well I do in the standings doesn’t matter to me. That’s not what I’m coming out of it. If I win, wow. But-
Who didn’t show up?
Yeah. Who? Exactly. But it’s more so after the competition I can reflect on like how did I feel during this moment or that moment. I’ve gone multiple years in a row and it’s like okay well the very first year I was a bag of nerves and totally bombed and whatever. And then successive years it’s like all right, was I nervous still? What was I nervous about? Was I nervous about the challenges, the crowd, nervous about competing in athletes that I looked up to? Was it one of those things? Was it all of those things? Was I physically in a spot where I felt confident or was my training really poor leading up to it? So yeah that’s my go to for competitions. That’s what drew me to those. And then yeah, now you get to see a new place. You get to see people once a year. You know everyone’s going to be there. And you guys kind of get to takeover this little city or wherever-
A little playground. Air quoting little playground that’s exactly designed for the thing that makes us all get excited.
Yes please. (/highlight)
I think you have the really structured competitions as well like NAPC and Art of Motion and then I think in 2019 or maybe a year before that there was an event called Hop The Block which was like a street competition. Which is literally like this whole crowed of people just took over this spot on the street and were running speed courses through it.
Right. And they got chased and they went to the next block.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And-
That’s rough. If you got a bad draw you might not get to make your run.
I know, right?
And so you get a zero.
Because the cops chased us off the course. That’s a great model for …
I won’t name names but I definitely knew people growing up where they would hop on cars to get people to call the police on them and then they would try to ditch to test themselves. Not endorsing that in any way. Please don’t do that. That’s awful. But yeah, it’s an interesting way to apply the practice.
I mean there’s something to be said for channeling. Everybody … Maybe not everybody but the vast majority of people have … You have to cut your teeth when you’re a certain age. It’s going to happen. So channel it into running and jumping and playing. We were talking about Max before. So I haven’t spent a ton of time with Max but I’ve spent a bit of time with Max. And he and I were in the playground standing on rails, he’s jumping on rails. Max said, “Rails are easier to jump to.” I’m like, “What are you …” He’s like, “Well, because when you jump at a wall the wall has that corner where the top meets the side. And you basically have to hit the corner just right or you slip off.” And he’s like, “But the bar is round.” And I’m like, “No Max. I’m sorry. That does not make it … I kind of see what you’re saying but no, it does not make it easier.” So there’s just something about that whole thing. That call to Max to run and jump called to Max. And you’re like, well if he hadn’t found parkour what would he had done? I don’t know. Maybe he would have done something much worse. Sorry, let me rephrase that. I’m not implying parkour was bad. Maybe he’d have done something bad, not worse. I think parkour is awesome.
But if he hadn’t found that … I think it was his brother who showed it to … Or his friend. Showed him the first video. I’m like, if he hadn’t had a place to channel that what would he have done? Maybe it wouldn’t have been harmful but I mean Max is like pushing the envelope. And there are lots of people. It’s just Max is just top of mind at the moment. There are lots of people that push the envelope. Not just in our sport but pushed the envelope for human beings. Why? Because they love it. Ask them to define parkour they just run away and go do it. No, I’m busy playing. So I think the human race needs more of that. And there are people who are trying to take that. Thinking of the PK move in Virginia. We were like okay, how can we take this, literally take it to the octogenarians in the care facility? And they’re doing it. Would that work? The work of taking that to them. That’s not for everybody. But it’s for some people and it’s awesome that that calls to some people to go do that.
So I don’t know. I think it’s on one hand the more it spreads and the bigger it gets, the less it’s going to be our thing.
Yeah. I agree.
It’s going to become everybody’s thing. And I’m sure at some point when they invented … Well I know because I’ve read a book. When they invented bicycles, bicycling was like this thing. It was like a clique-ish thing in England and there were people who rode bicycles and they were like in clubs. And now it’s like everybody’s got a bike. Now we have BMX bikes. So I think that as it spreads part of what I have always kind of went … Was that I kind of … Yeah, the thing that I love and is so special to me, okay great, it’s special to everybody but then it’s not special anymore is it if we all love it. But when I zoom out a little bit and go, no, this would be great if everybody fell in love with this and moved more and played more. There’s just so many physiological reasons. Movement is awesome for you. Mental psychological reasons. Movement is awesome for you. Enough of the Craig ramble.
(chapter) I asked you before. Any other stories bring to mind that you want to share? No, is a legitimate answer to the question. Is there a story you’d like to share?
I mean it would be totally like detached from whatever we’re talking about right now.
Is it a good story?
I don’t know if it’s good. I don’t know if I have many good stories. I don’t know. I think I would call myself a bad storyteller, personally.
So not your superpower.
Not my superpower. I think also I … This is going to sound really bad but I’m going to say I view myself … This is maybe a heavy handed word. But like there’s some insignificance I see to myself whereas I’m like maybe that story’s kind of funny but I’m like it’s only funny to me and it doesn’t really matter outside of my bubble.
I battle with insignificance with life and the whole human thing. Tiny dots on an endless timeline type thing.
Yes. 50,000 years from now your story is irrelevant. So is my entire podcast.
I think my favorite stories I’ll say … I won’t say they’re good or the best. But I think my favorite stories from parkour are outside of training for sure. I think one of my favorite memories with Jesse who’s one of my oldest friends in general and then also probably one of my closets friends through parkour is we were out training in Chinatown one day and pretty typically session. I think there were maybe three or four of us. Since we were all teenagers and in no rush to go home after any training stopped we pretty much just goofed off around the city. We both had long commutes home. We both live probably at least an hour outside of where we met up in Manhattan. So one day we were hanging out and it was getting towards like the evening and these two girls walk up to us and they were like, “Hey, do you want any chocolate chips?” And we thought they meant like cookies. They were holding a box like a larger box. And we’re like, “What do you mean? We can’t buy cookies from you.” And they’re like, “No, no, it’s chocolate chips. We baked cookies for something else but we have all these extra chocolate chips.”
And it’s literally a cardboard box. I don’t remember if they were in a bag. I think it may have just been chocolate chips on cardboard.
Yeah. This is okay. I’m in. Keep going.
It’s kind of just a ridiculous story. Like there’s no crazy, crazy part to it. But we were like, “Sure.”
How big is this box? Shoebox.
Not a shoebox. No. Maybe from like waist to shoulder high.
Oh my god, he’s holding his arms out like I can barely hold my arms around this thing. So we’re talking like 10 gallons-
It wasn’t full. It wasn’t full. It was maybe less than halfway full maybe.
So five gallon of chocolate chips in a cardboard box loose.
Something like that, yeah. So we’re like peering in and we’re like, “Sure.” So we take a bit of a handful and we’re eating and then there’s that moment where we all have hands full and we all look at each other. And we just start pelting each other with these chocolate chips. It breaks down into a complete chocolate chip fight. Which if you know what a chocolate chip looks like they’re pointy. We’re pretty much whipping buckshot at each other in this playground. It quickly fizzled out. We did it until … The girls ran away. They were like take the chocolate chips and they ran off.
What have we done?
What have we done? Yeah, in my mind it’s just something so ridiculous and absurd and I can’t imagine … For that type of story I’m like this has to be somewhat of a one of a kind story. Like a chocolate chip fight for free on a whim.
I’ve never heard of somebody bringing the ammunition to their own … Like you beat them up with their own chocolate chips. Okay, what were you thinking? Hey, let’s offer these to these guys. I would love to know the backstory of where they stole those chocolate chips from.
Oh that’s actually a good point. Where did they get the chocolate chips?
Oh, we were baking something. Totally sure.
Totally sure. Right. Five gallons of … Somewhere there are two women who tell a story of like oh my god, remember the time we stole all those chocolate chips? The local bakery had to stop baking muffins for two days.
Yeah. That might be … I think my only other maybe good story … And I’m not going to name drop here too much, but I used to be-
I could tell you that I’m going to edit them out and then not.
Ooh. So I think this would be a story I use as like a how did I get here and parkour was the way I got there. Would be I used to be on this team. Team in quotations as most parkour people are always on a team of some kind or a brand.
We made T-shirts.
We made T-shirts. We’re a team. The team was called Team Sanjuu which was started by Andrew Obenreder from Pittsburgh.
Oh my god, I was going to go, I’ve heard of that team and I’m thinking, what are the chances? But I’ve talked to Andrew a lot. My brain was like what? I’ve heard of that.
Great throwback team there. Lots of good athletes on that team actually. It was a quick heavy hitter team for a while and big surprise, didn’t go anywhere. Very surprising in parkour. But on that team we had planned a trip to Florida because a relative of Andrew had a large house for us to stay in for a week. We didn’t … Maybe we did one workshop somewhere. Actually I think that was one of the reasons we went down. We wanted to go down and we were like all right, we can make some money back if we do a workshop in a couple gyms and that was it. We did one or two workshops I think and they were fine.
Moving on, yeah. We were told that this relative is a member of a very well known boy band, NSYNC. And we went down there and we all got to the airport and we were kind of … We were ready to call bullshit on it basically. We were like there’s no way that we’re going to stay in this person’s house for a week. Another family member picked us up and we were like, so this other family member just going to take us to their house and give us some story about why we can’t go to the actual place. But we rolled up to a gated community outside of Orlando, Florida and stayed in a mansion. I won’t say which member it was but they had like the … If you’re familiar with the music video for Bye Bye Bye, the marionette puppets were hanging in his kitchen. It’s a very surreal thing. It was a beautiful house. We actually didn’t see the person because we pretty much were told to camp out in his basement for the time and stay out of sight which was fine.
Can do. Yes.
Can do. There was a housemate who I believe was like a producer. He had like a whole production studio in his house. I think that’s what he mostly did because he’s not in NSYNC anymore. So we got to hang out with that dude for a little bit and there was a very, very well supplied bar.
Which we worked very hard to un-supply.
Yes. So I think we were … Maybe that wasn’t such a good move but we did what we did. There’s like a movie theater and stuff. It was pretty ridiculous. One morning we woke up and there was some sort of like photo shoot happening in the backyard with these models, like swimsuit type stuff and we’re all these grungy looking parkour athletes waking up, honestly, after a heavy night of drinking. We had a party one night. We all woke up and definitely were not in good shape. But yeah, it was absurd that that type of experience came from me jumping at walls. It’s like an absurd story to tell and I don’t know. It ended up being a good time. We went over to Tampa and did a couple workshops. Made some good connections. Met some people that I still talk with sometimes today. And some of the people that I experienced that with I have no idea where they are but that memory connects us I guess somehow.
Yeah. That’s a great story. I think that’s a great story. That’s one of the better ones. Terrific.
Parkour events [1:16:44]
(chapter) Anything else jump to mind? I just want to make sure that you get a chance to-
I don’t think so. I think maybe not this year, I’ll say I think next year will be potentially a big year for parkour in terms of events. I think 2020 was going to be. I felt like there was a lot of momentum from a lot of different organizations in terms of what they had planned. Maybe that’s me thinking about what I had planned and it not being able to happen. But I think with the pandemic as well, parkour culture has had to develop in a different way. A way that was probably needed where you had … I think 2019, everyone was complaining about Instagram and how everyone uses it. Which is a totally fair thing. I think people use it in whatever way they use it. Anyway. But-
Normally I end up on the social media soapbox but I’m glad to see it was you so keep going.
I mean hey, there’s a game to play there and more power to anyone who can play the game well. And I think there are athletes who do it quite well and maintain … They don’t sell out I guess-
I was going to say fidelity. They can maintain the fidelity of their own training and their own personal identity and I can also perform this dance on Instagram.
Yeah. Yeah. Others maybe took a different path which I think also isn’t terrible. Because I would say the same thing about anyone who works with like FISE or FIG or something like that. These are people that are trying to make it for themselves and they have to take the opportunities or they feel like they have to take the opportunities that are presented to them.
Yeah. Some philosopher said no one does evil. No one actually believes I am evil and I am going to do evil things. Everybody believes that you’re doing the right thing. People don’t. Even when you say people are malicious, they believe that they deserve whatever they were taking from you. They don’t think they’re doing evil, they think they’re doing right. But that requires some compassion and understanding.
Some people want to put themselves in a position where they maybe can steer the thing.
But did you finish your train of thought? You were saying 2019, 2020, you’re hoping for 2021.
Yeah. I think the past year people have developed what kind of art and content can come out of parkour. I think because everyone’s had so much time I feel like we’re seeing this return to long form videos.
Yeah. I had [inaudible 01:19:14] I took all 9,000 of the saccharine tiny little dose things and I’m like, could somebody please give me a parkour movie? And like we’ve now had a chance to actually go yeah, we need culturally and in parkour space we need more, we need to get back to putting in the effort for some of those really deep things. There was another thread there that we were pulling on about … Oh, I was going to say, I think … I’m not sure about this so this is a theory. I think those of us who do and love this movement practice, we got a little complacent. Because well, I can go to the parkour gym over here or I can go to that parkour gym over there or I can go to this event. If I want to get on a plane I can go to that event. It was just like an embarrassment of riches for your opportunities to run, jump and play. Oh, you want to go do this gorilla crazy thing? This group will do that. You want to do this? Everything was available. And being like all right, everybody get in your box for a year and you can do nothing and we’re all clawing at the walls.
I’m hoping … I know for me it did. I’m hoping that I makes everybody come out of that box hopefully soon, depending. But when we come out of that box we’re going to be like okay, I got nothing because everything’s closed. That was my in the box mode. What do I want to put back into my life? And I think when you go to an event you’re going to be like yes.
Going. Just G-O-I-N-G. I’m going. Yay. So I think that will give us … I think there’s a bit of a … I’m sure there’s a bit of a cultural reset but I’m hoping it sticks.
That we remember the … And we say a lesson because it wasn’t like COVID taught us a lesson but like I’m hoping that we remember … Like maybe people journaled while they were locked up. I’m always talking about journaling. I can look at my journal entries which I’m reading from a year ago. I’m like oh yeah, aha. If you only knew what was coming. So I think anything you can do to get you some perspective and being locked in your house figuratively for a year will give you some perspective on how nice it is to walk around the block or to go to the grocery store.
Yeah. I hope so. I think … I don’t know. I almost have a thought. Almost.
It’s tough to talk to microphones.
Yeah. It’s tough to talk to mics.
Did you notice I said microphones right? We had this thing before we started but like I’m talking to a Mike and actually I’m talking to two Mikes. The one in front of me and the one in front of me.
(highlight) Yeah. I mean I hope that once people are back out to training and going to events that we continue to get these kind of like big video projects which are really ingrained in parkour culture. I think the ones that came out in 2020, once people had time to be locked up inside and maybe they had more time to edit or do whatever was holding them back from finishing that project. But we just did a screening for these two films. Controlled Decent from Winston Yang and Trials Morales from Darryl Stingley and those are both long form videos but it’s not just a video of them traveling somewhere and training. It’s not even just like a show reel of them training. They both wanted to say something very specific unrelated to parkour with these projects. And maybe 2020 gave them the space to do it. But I would love to see more projects like that where there was more being said than like look how hard I’ve been training recently or whatever else.
Yeah. The famous jump cut. The famous cut. The famous super cut. Oh please. Can’t tell you how fast I skip past those.
I see more artists kind of crossing over. There are a lot of … Obviously film and photography are huge for us and you have people now … Maybe brave enough is the term is to use to say like I’m selling prints if anyone wants any of my parkour photography. There are parkour calendars. There are parkour podcast popping up more and more. And seeing all these avenues open up for people and people given the space to say like, “Well, I’m home anyway, I can try it out.” Worst case-
What could possibly go wrong.
Worst case, it’s not real life right now anyway right?
Like we’re all kind of doing our thing. So I think if we can maintain that part while returning to the I want to go jump on everything and meet everyone and travel all over the place mentality as we return to a more normal setup, I think will cool. I think it would be really good. Like the roaring '20s. The roaring 2020s. (/highlight)
3 words [1:23:51]
(chapter) Well, I think that’s a good a place as any to wrap up so I will just say … And of course the final question. Three words to describe your practice.
I listened to a few episodes. I knew this was coming.
Everybody does but it actually doesn’t help.
It’s not meant to be like a skewer you question. It’s just meant to be a whole opportunity for you to have the last say.
Well I did some reflecting and I guess three words I would use would be train to connect and that would be to yourself, your environment, people around you, whatever it is. It can be all of those things or one of those things.
Yeah. I think that’s one of the most beautiful parts of parkour is … For me specifically, it’s been a huge social thing for me. Did not have many friends growing up. So starting training parkour was I had to connect to people if I wanted to learn because that was the only way to learn back then was to talk with people. So yeah, connecting to others, learning more about yourself obviously and connecting to your environment I think is huge.
Terrific. Mike, It was a super pleasure to get a chance to sit down and have a nice long form conversation with you and did the weather cooperate or did the weather cooperate?
I know. Yeah.
This is awesome. So I hope you have a terrific rest of your day and I look forward to getting a chance to train with you this year.
Yes. Please. Thank you very much also. This was such a … It’s my first time doing something like this. It was a really cool experience.
You’re very welcome but straight up my pleasure every time. Cool. All right. Thanks Mike.