A month or so ago, Bryan Augstein (Maryland) and KC Parsons (Michigan) told me they wanted to come up to visit me in Rochester. I met both of them on my trip this summer, and (through the wonders of free verizon-to-verizon texts) texted back and forth quite a bit during long bus rides. We became good friends, and so of course I was enthusiastic about having them come up! KC Decided to bring a close friend of his, Nate Manly (Michigan), and soon Jesse Danger (NYPK) and Christopher Price (Michigan) were added to the list of attendees. Soon enough... we were having ourselves a Rochester jam!
Jesse arrived at the bus station Thursday night, and we hung out with some friends and watched The Dark Knight on our projector downstairs. We went to sleep late, and then got up early for a workout at the gym. We left straight from there to go back to the bus station KC and Nate arrived early the next morning. After a great (and cheap!) dinner at the local diner, we came back to my house and... immediately dropped to the floor and went to sleep. Jesse and I had 3 hours of sleep and a workout, and KC and Nate had a 14 hour bus ride under their belt. We woke up 5 hours later and went to the Red Barn, the local rock climbing gym (it's a big red barn. Go figure!). Chris showed up, and we all packed in his pickup truck and went to the bus station to pick up Bryan.
Everyone was hungry again, so it was time for dinner. If it's your first time in Rochester, there is only one meal your hosts will give you: a garbage plate:
Ingredients: hash browns, chili sauce, macaroni salad, 2 hamburger patties, American cheese, diced raw onions, mustard, ketchup.
This post is an introduction to a blog series I will be publishing over the next month called “This Is How I Play.” The inspiration for this comes from a book I'm reading, Exuberant Animal, by Frank Forencich. In one of his articles he claims that we “study and test, research and measure, drilling our knowledge down to the deepest levels, and then we wonder why people find exercise so dull and unattractive. We strip human movement down to the sterile elements of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics and then complain that no one wants to participate.”
I don't agree with this quote 100%, especially for high level athletes, but I think that a lot of fitness programs (especially for school-aged children) should pay a lot of attention. If games were emphasized as the primary method of physical activity, it will not only be more effective but also will be a lot more enjoyable. And that's really the secret to a successful fitness program. If exercise can be made fun, then people will WANT to come back and participate again; they will enjoy and look forward to it.
I'm not talking about sports however – there's a huge difference between sports and games. Sports are fantastic – for athletes. But if you aren't an athlete, you probably aren't going to have many opportunities to play sport-games. Even when you do play a pickup game, there is often equipment, a large number of people, or a specific location necessary for that sport. In order for the game to be played all of these conditions must be met, and that is often very difficult to plan and organize. Then there's the potentially humiliating experience of picking teams and, once the game starts, not being passed to or truly included.
The kind of games I'm talking about are more free-form and creative. Things that really engage the imagination, and don't necessarily have a lot of rules. During this series, I'm going to be giving examples of a lot of different games. Some are games developed by the parkour community, some are games I've developed, and others are just random games that I've come across in my travels. For most of the games, I have also listed one or two variants or combinations, a way to develop a whole new game simply by changing the rules or mixing it with another game.
Creativity and imagination is fundamental to what makes us human, but many kids aren't given the opportunities to exercise their brains and their body together. Encourage your kids to create their own games to play, or you can use these games, or make up your own variations of these games to play! Most of these games can be played without any equipment and can be played by anyone, five to fifty five, skinny or heavy, male or female.
Game: The first game is called PDQ, or Pretty Darn Quick. This is an incredibly popular parkour game, where the basic objective is to jump on peoples' feet. This is actually one of the more complicated games, it usually takes a practice game for everyone to get the hang of it. I often play a “demo game” as I'm teaching it, so people can see the rules and their effects.
Rules: You start in a circle and everyone puts one first in the center. Someone (usually the winner of the last game) picks a random person, taps their fist, and counts “one,” moves to the next person in the circle, “two” and so on until everyone has been numbered. Once everyone has a number, everyone shouts “One, two, three, PDQ!” and everyone simultaneously takes one jump away from the center.
At this point, you continue in number order (“one” is first, “two” is second, etc). When it is your turn to go, your goal is to jump on someone else's foot. No one can move until you are in the air, however. If you feint and pretend to jump and someone else moves their feet, then they are eliminated. If you jump and land on someone's feet, they are eliminated.
The interesting twist to this game is... you can only jump when the person who is “it” is in the air. However, if you jump and land on someone else's feet, you can still get them out even though it isn't your turn.
Game: This next game is called QM (Quadrupedal Movement) Tag. It's a popular variation on regular tag, except you have to stay on all fours the entire time. These game is a lot of fun, but also is quite the workout as it encourages some mad scrambles to get away.
Rules: The rules are pretty simple. Usually I designate a specific area the players must stay in. This keeps the game fast and intense, and prevents people from spreading out too far. In order to tag someone, you must tag their elbows. This makes it a bit more difficult to tag other players. Goal: For the player who is “it” to tag another player's elbow.
Physical Benefits: For anyone who hasn't tried it, QM is a fantastic full body exercise. Essentially, walk around on your hands and feet with your hips and shoulders low to the ground – the lower the harder! Once you've walked around like this for a while, try doing it backwards. And then do it up and down stairs, or all around the house. Once you're comfortable with walking around like this, try to balance (not while playing tag though!) and walk on a railing or on top of a fence on all fours.
Other benefits: In addition to making you stronger, compound, full body movements like this teach your brain how to use muscles together, instead of just individually. Whenever you learn a new movement, whether it's QM, juggling, or playing piano, you are actually constructing new neural pathways in your brain. People, especially children, who stimulate their brains in new ways will continue to develop more neural pathways. These people tend to have more active, creative, and powerful brains. By learning how to move in new and creative ways, you can actually get smarter!
Game: Today’s game was invented during one of the Philly jams. It is called PDQM. It doesn’t really stand for anything, just a combination of “Pretty Darn Quick” and “Quadrupedal Motion.” This game is a combination of PDQ and QM Tag.
Rules: All players must start the game on all fours. Any body configuration is acceptable, as long as all four limbs are touching the ground. The game begins like PDQ: each player counts off. No player may move until the player whose turn it is jumps into the air. The twist to this game is that the players must be on all fours. In order to tag someone out, you must tag someone’s hand with your hand, or their foot with your foot. When the player who is “it” is leaping, all other players may move to avoid or to tag someone else out.
Goal: To be the last player untagged.
Variation: Limb elimination. This is actually a pretty standard variant that we play by. If your left hand gets tagged, then you lose that hand, but you are still in the game. You only get “out” when you can no longer support yourself and a non-limb part of your body touches the ground (chest, butt, head, etc). If you lose two feet and a hand, you better hope you can balance on one hand.
Physical Benefits: This game combines the physical benefits of PDQ with QM tag. With the limb elimination modification, it force you to be able to balance in strange positions as well as move from strange positions with unusual restrictions. This game can tire you out more quickly than PDQ or QM tag, and it also is a lot of fun.
Rochester Parkour is planning our second Beginner’s Parkour workshop. This is a free introduction, designed to inform and educate anyone interested in practicing Parkour. It’s targeted towards beginners, but we encourage more experienced members of the community to come as well.
We will be covering the basics of Parkour, including an introduction to proper conditioning, landings and precision jumps, quadrupedal movement, and basic vaulting. Rochester Parkour also emphasizes an importance on safety and slow, progressive training methodologies in all of our events and training sessions.
We encourage anyone interested in Parkour to attend. Whether it’s your first time out, or you’re already an experienced traceur, you’re sure to learn something - or at least have a good time!
Who can come: Anyone! Males or females of any age. Parents feel free to bring your kids. Kids, feel free to bring your parents!
Who is hosting: The event is being run by Zachary Cohn, one of the most experienced traceurs in the state. He is a member of the APK Alliance, a national group sponsored by American Parkour. He will be assisted by Charles Moreland and Jeff Whalley, two experienced and dedicated traceurs.
I should be given Jon Payne's ticket to IM Spring Break. I am a student studying Marketing in Rochester, New York, and I want to focus in Internet Marketing for my career. I have pending employment with an Internet Marketing firm in Baltimore for this summer, and unlike most students who complete their schooling and then start implementing what they've learned, I am already working with American Parkour (www.americanparkour.com) to improve their Internet Marketing strategies. I can take advantage of what I learn at this conference IMMEDIATELY, whereas other students who attend would wait until after graduation to begin to use what they've gained. By that time it might already be too late. This field is changing so rapidly that implementing a strategy developed a year or two prior is likely to result in an epic belly flop.
Not only can I take excellent advantage of this contest, but I'm almost as cool as you are Jon, so I would be an adequate replacement to send in your sted.
Rochester Parkour hosted their first “Beginner's Parkour Workshop” in December. 35 people attended, mostly regulars. On Saturday, March 28th, Rochester Parkour hosted their second “Beginner's Parkour Workshop.” There was no definitive count, but the lower estimate was 100 people, mostly newcomers. During the first workshop, it was in the low 30s and starting to snow. This time, it was in the high 60s, sunny, and a beautiful day.
This picture was taken at the end of the workshop, after approximately half the group had left.
The workshop was scheduled to start at 2:30, but Zac decided to go a little bit early. When he got there at 2:00, there was already a handful of people waiting. After some introductions and idle chit-chat, Zac noticed a police car pulling up and parking nearby. After watching for a bit, the officers got out of their car and started walking over. At this point, Zac was convinced that the workshop was going to get broken up 25 minutes before it even started! He started walking toward the officers to introduce himself. After a brief exchange of introductions, the officers asked if this was the Parkour thing they saw on the RNews (the local news station). Reluctantly, Zac replied that it was. At this point, everyone else was silent and staring. There was a ten second awkward silence, then one officer laughed and said “You guys aren't in trouble! We just thought it was cool and wanted to check it out. We're not even from around here, we're from the next district over.”
Everyone talked with the officers for a bit, and they even said they'd try to stop back again during the workshop (although they weren't able to). It was a stressful, but overall positive indication of how the day was going to go!
Over the course of the next 25 minutes, more and more people showed up. Introductions were made, a Frisbee game broke out. A lot of teenage boys were coming, but there was also at least 10 girls who came out to participate! There were some adults, and even a few families that came out to give it a try! There was a husband and a wife, and their three young children who did a fantastic job! People just kept pouring over the hill and onto the field, until it was about 2:40, and it was definitely time to get started. A quick estimate of the turnout resulted in over 100 people!
I think to truly understand the phrase "Be strong to be useful," you can simply modify it to: "Be useful."
On Saturday, Charles Moreland and I were driving back from the grocery store. We were already 20 minutes late to our own party, it was raining, cold, and there were 30mph gusts. While at a stop light, Charles noticed a van in the intersection across from us. It was stopped in the left turn lane, cars were going around it, and all the lights were off. The lights came back on, briefly, and then went out again. Clearly, their car was dead.
Immediately, and pretty much without speaking, it was agreed that we'd pull into the nearest parking lot, don our jackets and gloves, and run into the middle of the road to help. We walked up to the car, and I waved. The old russian man cracked the door open suspiciously, as I announced that we were here to help. "I already called Triple A" he said. "They'll be here within the hour." I waved my hand toward the oncoming cars. "It's not safe for you to be in this intersection. Throw the car in neutral and we're going to push you into the parking lot."
I think there was a bit of a language barrier, and a bit of suspicion about these random boys who showed up out of no where to help, but once we got behind the car and started to push, he shifted into neutral and steered. Once we got out of the intersection, we pushed the car (uphill! Damn minivans are heavy.) through the road and into a parking space. I noticed about halfway through, whenever he could, the old man opened the door and tried to help push with his foot.
We got to the parking space, he put it in park, and he and his wife got out of the car and thanked us profusely. She asked us if we were in school, and if we were done with calculus yet (she is a calculus tutor at a local high school apparently), and she gave us her card. The man shook our hands and thanked us many times. I gave them my card and told them to call me if they needed any more help - I lived just five minutes away.
While Parkour takes up a large part of my life, I also study Marketing and Business, with a focus in technology. I spent a better part of the Winter and Spring looking for summer employment, hopefully doing some sort of Internet Marketing. Due to the economy, however, it's unlikely I'm going to be employed this summer. I'll be out making contacts in the community, but there will be a lot more free time than I anticipated.
At school, we don't watch television. My roommate is actually going to sell his TV, it's been so long since we last used it. But in the summer I'm not around as many people, and often I'll turn the TV on as background noise while making breakfast or something. Often I'll get sucked into whatever I'm watching and end up wasting half the day. I always feel like crap after, but it's just what happens.
So now I'm in a quandary. I'm going to have a lot of free time, but I don't want it to get sucked up by TV. So I've come up with a summer challenge for myself, and I invite all of you to partake as well:
The challenge is essentially "No TV during daylight." No movies, no video games, nothing. Computer use is restricted to email and business uses. Instead, I propose everyone create a list - a long list - of things to do.
This list should comprise of skills to learn, books to read, places to go, and things to do. Mark each one in a category, and then write the skill. Don't limit yourself to Parkour oriented skills - use this summer to make yourself a more rounded person.