Improving Your Vision

No, this post isn't about laser eye surgery. Instead it is about improving your ability to see possibility. In order to do this I'm going to take you along my own recent journeys into training for parkour. Since the philosophies of the art of movement relate so well to the rest of life, let's learn a little bit that we may have just forgotten. ...

When I first came across parkour I looked at moving from point A to point B a little differently. All of the sudden I started to wonder, "How else could I get there". From my initial introduction, I learned to at least look for other ways.

I started to take a look at how to start training for parkour. AmericanParkour.com has a page called "How Do I Get Started" and a section with tutorials on practical movements( members only, but its free ). After reading these I started wondering, how was I going to be able to practice? When would I have time? Where can I go? I was blocked by my current level of vision. I could not see any possibilites, and I was stopped.

I kept going back to the pages and kept re-reading how to get started and the tutorials. I was also reading some good articles. One great that inspired me was "The Beginner's Mind". Watching my children learn everything they know from nothing has always been a pleasure. As we grow up, we stop learning from nothing and start to avoid knowledge we don't already posess. I got inspired to approach this from a child's mind and start from knowing nothing. There is only one place to go from there. All of the sudden things became clear. I shouldn't be able to do anything, I've never trained parkour before. Maybe I should learn to land first ( the same instructions from the "How Do I Get Started" article ). There are lots of places to jump down from.

So one day at work, I used my lunch break to go outside and practice landing. It went well. I was having fun. I got excited, tried a Kong Vault and landed on my hand. Having worked to gain weight as a wrestler, I was just over 230 pounds and most of that weight came down on my hand hard. I don't think I broke it, but it hurt for a couple weeks before I could use it normally again. All of the sudden I was asking my wife to open jars for me :).

That didn't stop me though. I could still practice the basic landing, without using my hand too much. So I did. Eventually, I got bored of landing and stopped practicing. I didn't know how to move on from that point. Once again, I was stopped by my current level of vision. Where was I going to train? When was I going to train?

In the featured articles section of AmericanParkour.com, there are a line of articles called Demon's Drills. These are some great ways of how to improve your physical and mental training towards parkour. They were all inspiring, but The one that got me moving was Muscle Ups and a related follow up Theme Training. Muscle ups were something I thought I could find somewhere to perform, at least a modified version. I started doing a few while playing with my kids at the park, which I am doing more now that I am training. However, I didn't feel I could train it enough to make that much difference. I wished there were some way I could do it at my gym. Well, the universe provided me that wish. I came in one Monday and they had moved some of the equipment around. This forced me to look at workouts just differently enough that I saw an opportunity to do modified muscle ups on the smith machine. This was great because I could start at a lower height that I felt comfortable with and then move the bar as high as it would go. It was a great plyometric workout and my vision improved.

Soon after starting this exercise, I started looking around where I live and work. One day I walked from the gym to work ( which I do from time to time ) and started to see more training possibilities than I had ever seen before. Ledges to do muscle ups and possibly kong vaults ( I still was a bit leary of that ). That day, I took my lunch break outside for some training. As I was moving around doing different muscle ups on the ledges, I ran up to a shorter ledge and popped myself up to the top without even thinking about it! It was almost a Kong Vault, and I believe it was higher than the place I hurt myself before. I was stoked, but my lunch hour was over so I would have to wait.

The next day, my wife needed the car so I would need to walk from the gym to work again. Insead of having her just drop me off at work, I asked her to let me drop my bags off at the office first. Then when I walked to work from the gym I had nothing keeping me from trying out some kongs, wall runs and tic-tacs. My lunch break consisted of this too. This is where I currently am and now I am consciously trying to improve my vision. Now I'm looking for the next obstacle for me to overcome. I've seen new places around work that I didn't even know existed. I'm still a novice and I most likely move slower and do less than many traceurs and traceusses out there, but that doesn't matter. Parkour is more an approach than certain movements, a philosophy to life that is practiced through the art of movement.

Below, I've linked a video put together by Demon of Demon's Drills called Vaults 102. Its a bit more than the basics ( it is a 102 class after all ) and it approaches vaults in an interesting way for improving your ability to overcome obstacles ( vision or ability to see possibility ).
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opUoIXgEdAk]
The good part is at the end, putting it together into a flow. Even more so, the good part is the text at the end of the credits, which you don't see in this version but here is a link to the full .wmv file at AmericanParkour.com.

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