Martial arts and Parkour are different things but share the same load of bullshit when it comes to the spiritual side of the practice. For example, there are many people within martial arts that view MMA as savage, brutal, lowly. Something that’s beneath them, their level of skill, their profound spiritual development. These are the people that talk about transcending conflict and not using martial arts to fight, but as a way of life. To them, MMA fights are primitive and they don’t encapsulate all there is to the martial arts: the meditative practices, the psychology of conflict, the philosophy of yielding and so on.
Much the same in Parkour. You often hear that the media wants you to see the big stuff, the flashy moves, but it’s actually about achieving awareness of yourself and gaining control, right?
I hear a lot of this mindset with older Parkour practitioners: there’s more to Parkour than simply doing big jumps, it’s about the mentality, the toughness, the discipline, the longevity. They have this image of a Parkour samurai on a spiritual path towards enlightenment.
How is it that these “spiritual” martial artists and traceurs are always the ones that never actually fight, the ones that never seem to do any big jumps? I mean, I know their story: it’s not about fighting and it’s not about doing big jumps. But what is it about then?
Imagine being a programmer. Alright, so you code in several different languages, in C, in Lisp, in Perl and so on. Now imagine that you start talking about these programming languages not being used for programming but to understand the world around you better and help you grow to be a better person. Weird, but acceptable, nobody has a problem with that. UNTIL you stop programming. Because, you see, programming languages serve us so that we can program things. Of course, we can see them in a spiritual way, but only if their primary function – and that is programming – is well satisfied.
Martial arts serve us so that we can fight. That’s it. That’s their primary function, and if you haven’t got the primary function covered, I don’t want to hear about any sort of spiritual development through martial arts. If you’re not interested in fighting but only spiritual development, then you should take up a meditative practice, not a martial one.
1. relating to fighting or war.
Relating to fighting or war. That’s the primary function. But, but, but, there’s more to martial arts than just fighting, you know… Yes, there is, but I’ll say it again: you have no business looking for some advanced spiritual practice if you don’t have the basic idea (fighting) covered. And at this point, many people will make the same mistake as I have done before, and conclude that they can in fact fight without ever testing it in a real fighting situation (dojo fighting excluded, ring fighting included). As I’ve said before, you have to test what you’re doing. You absolutely have to, and no pacifism or spirituality should be your excuse for not testing it. Be spiritual after you’ve tested it and know for certain that it works for you.
And as for Parkour, it’s main purpose is to move efficiently. There is a lot of fucking efficiency in doing an enormous jump that other people wouldn’t even think about doing. Why is doing big stuff associated with lack of control or discipline? Most of the guys I see doing big stuff are the most controlled and most disciplined Parkour practitioners. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing someone do something really big and impressive while at the same time being undisciplined and lacking control. Do you know how much mental focus you need to have if you want to do big stuff? Much more than for your pussy-ass tiny rail precision repeated 200 times (because it’s more spiritual to repeat one thing 200 times than it is to do a big jump). And imagine the level of control you need to have if you start doing flips along with your Parkour! That shit is so demanding!
I feel like everyone is just trying to find excuses for being losers and not pushing themselves enough in both of these fields. I’m definitely at fault for having done this in both Parkour and martial arts.
It’s not better to practice your tiny cat leap a zillion times instead of doing big scary stuff, if you haven’t already done the big scary stuff, but are able to. (Note: if you’re weak and can’t physically do the big stuff safely, then you need to get strong ASAP – before you do it).
It’s not better to practice your meditative forms instead of fighting in a cage, if you haven’t already fought enough in the cage. It’s more spiritual, yes. More meditative, more elegant. But it’s not the way of martial arts.