(From an interview with traceur Curron Gajadhar, a.k.a. Aspernaut)
Movement is not simply something you do, but a part of what you are. It is in our structure, our very DNA, to move with strength and efficiency. We have drifted from our original nature with our sedentary lifestyles, and try to compromise by going to the gym for an hour or so a day. Natural movement was never limited to sets and reps; the set was survival, and each rep was the course of a day. If you look at the natural world, the solution to sedentary life presents itself; nature itself is movement.
Parkour is one fantastic expression of the art of movement, and Curron Gajadhar, a.k.a. Aspernaut, is an avid parkour enthusiast who channels himself through the paved lots, railings, rooftops, fences, and general environment of Atlanta, GA. Curron learned about parkour in 2005, but his exploration of the history truly began in 2010, when he learned about the Yamakazi group started by parkour expert David Belle from a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not special; furthermore, the documentaries “Jump London” and its sequel “Jump Britain” (you can find Jump London 2003 full on YouTube).
The movement skill and art of the Yamakazi group is what really helped parkour to be called a non-combative martial art. But David Belle’s new expression of movement was in fact very old; Raymond Belle, David’s father, studied Georges Hebert’s methode naturalle.
This, the Natural Method, is what truly embodies the spirit that Curron expresses as a traceur. Hebert developed the natural method from his observation of well physically developed indigenous people in Africa, and wrote, “Their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring, resistant and yet they had no other tutor in gymnastics but their lives in nature.” Movement itself, as Hebert presented it, is both a training and a meditation. In Curron’s own words, “Parkour has been a reintroduction to being competent with my body.” No tree can grow without roots, and learning to reconnect with one’s body through movement across the Earth will allow the tree of might and physical mobility to truly grow.
You see, parkour is not about competition, but about expressing wildness, being liberated on a primal level, and allowing you to re-establish your relationship with the Earth around you. Methode Naturalle was so influential that the French military adopted it as a full system of training, which expanded and developed as parcours du combattant, (so you can guess where the name parkour came from.)
(To be continued…)