FPK Montpellier and Retiro Parkour: Luís Parkour Insights
In the beginning of this summer, my Facebook Feed was flooded with desperate posts about the death of Parkour. Yes, I scroll down Facebook and yes, I read my friend’s posts. However, I should not get carried away with the “What are you thinking today?” answers. After the discontinuity of Red Bull Art of Motion, Air WIpp Challenge, 4 the Love of Movement, some of us in the community, seriously felt a step-back in our culture.
When it came up to our minds, it simply seemed like the description that suits the most to the idea.
I had the pleasure to take part in a handful of awesome events and I want to share the magic of one of them specially.
After a couple years attending less events than usually and after a bit of a personal breakdown, I decided to attend to as many meetings, jams and events as possible (FPK Montpellier and Retiro Parkour, ParkourONE Last10 and many more). It would be very unfortunate to come back into the social life of Parkour when everything seemed to slow down. I was wrong. We were wrong. The Summer of 2019 seemed to me as one of the most mature years for Parkour as a sport and institution.
Besides the few major events cancellations, hundreds of local jams around Europe, took place and were highly attended. The mobility in the community was outstanding. Big and small groups of traceurs travelled together and alone around the old continent, visiting new communities, new spots, making banger videos and the #parkour on Instagram was filled with great movement, unity, discovery and awesomeness…
I had the pleasure to take part in a handful of awesome events (parkourONE Last 10 switzerland, FPK Montpellier and Retiro Parkour & Movimento), and I want to share the magic of one of them specially.
4 Years ago, me and another member from Line Team(my first team in Portugal), challenged ourselves into bringing a new format of Parkour Jams in Portugal. Nor underestimating or competing with the usual formats. We wanted to spread value, bring back the important message, work on ourselves as humans who practiced parkour. Respecting our bodies, our community and our surroundings.
For a full weekend, the attendees would leave their comfort zone and the contemporary parkour vibes and focus in ourselves. That included daily waking up before the sun, practice conditioning, the Methode Naturelle, meditation, eat clean, stay away from our phones, immerse ourselves on speeches and group talks, watch the old-school “Pilgrimage” documentary, and obviously, train Parkour, a lot of it.
The name Retiro, similar to the Yoga Retreats, is a mere coincidence. When it came up to our minds, it simply seemed like the description that suits the most to the idea.
In the next two editions life brought me challenges in which made it impossible for me to be part of the organizing crew, or it is maybe better if we just call it Retiro family.
Great motives attract great souls. Patrick and Guita, local heroes in the south of Portugal joined the family. They took it so seriously and passionately that Retiro grew, became strong and mature and I can give you a biased but honest opinion, as the best parkour weekend I had this Summer. As a matter of fact, I have barely jumped on any walls or little have I trained as I usually do, nevertheless, I felt myself growing as a tracer and as a human like I haven’t in years.
From the beginning until the end it was a never stopping learning adventure.
What made Retiro the coolest Parkour event for me this year:
1- Learn, learn, learn…
We usually overlook different aspects of Parkour that are as important as jumping. We see athletes lifting weights, bouldering, cliff jumping, and many other parallel activities that do help us to become better and stronger. On Retiro, the focus was down to details, the weekend started with a Foot and ankles therapy by Patrick Gerken, one of the Retiro Family members, graduated in Chinese medicine and Parkour practitioner himself. For over an hour we learned how to take care and strengthen our dearest feet, which carry, run, land, absorb, tic, balance, swing, kick, or just simply stand the whole weight of our bodies everyday.
It was followed by a handstand workshop with Judith … from Finland. There we learned how to keep our wrists, elbows and shoulders fit and stronger, and later how to practice handstands and work on our upside down technique.
From the beginning until the end it was a never stopping learning adventure. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu workshop, advanced physical conditioning training and an incredible Movement(with capital M) workshop led by Origo Movement. This last one included the old-school QM patterns we, traceurs, still include in our training, together with the innovations and progress of the Movement Culture training, using props, group activities, rhythmic applications and above all, we were playing. It felt light on discipline and heavy on intensity.
As the sunsets, we gathered in the location Dojo, to listen the inspiring words of Márcio Filipe, explaining his mental training and process to coexist with fear. He shared his experiences in a deep and captivating way and we ended up having a Videocall with Hendo where everyone was able to ask him questions about his training mentality.
2 – Connect, socially and individually…
Everything in Retiro is executed as a whole. We wake up together, train together, cook together, clean together, laugh, enjoy, complain and the list goes on. As our culture grows into the cult of image and instant gratification, “likes, comments” and the screen dimension overweights the connection part of the community in a few levels.
In Retiro, we live as a family and community, everyone knows everyone’s names, everyone is reachable for sitting down for a talk, have a laugh or play a game together. Of course, this is recurring in most part of Parkour Jams. What differentiates Retiro is the everyone is in the same level. We all go through the same challenges and training sessions disbarring the unknown and revealing our discomfort. In Retiro we all show our vulnerabilities and there’s no shame about it. We are there to connect ourselves to our own bodies, minds and surroundings.
Everyday we had a different type of mindful practice. After the Origo workshop, Zé, one of the instructors, has guided us through a short meditation. The attendees joined his effort to calm down after such an intense movement workshop. In the last day, Alex, guided us through breathing and cold water exercises based on the Wim Hot Method. The group went through it together and nailed the difficulties coming out of it with great vitality before the last training session, this time on street spots and the typical Parkour Jam session.
In Retiro we connected with each other so we could let ourselves connect with our minds and bodies, and vice-versa.
3 – Bring Parkour values back…
When I started training I was a bit of a rebel sometimes against the generation that came before me and my friends. I wouldn’t skip the conditioning training and I would join the group warm-ups. But always with that smirky look, thinking that I was superior just because I had a bit more coordination than the average beginner. I didn’t pay attention to what was being taught and shared with me, but I never disrespected it. Nowadays, I am deeply thankful to those values, I believe that being taught the philosophy and fundaments of Parkour kept me safe for this almost 14 years of practice.
On Retiro the motto “We start together, we end together” is taken seriously. Every year the family is challenged to do a group exercise together, that can only be finished in group. The challenge could be a ridiculous amount of repetitions on sticking consecutive precision jumps or a inhumane workout. This year, we had a super special guest, who moved our hearts with his story and attitude towards life. Tiago is a 36 years old physical educator and trainer of the Portuguese olympic gymnastics team, who lost his mobility from the neck down 14 years ago when he opened himself midair on a flip during his tumbling partners.
I used so much of that time to meditate and be comfortable with my own mind.
Nowadays he is battling his condition, re-learning small basic activities and regaining some motor capabilities. During this years “One”(group exercise), we were challenge to go on a hike up the mountain bringing Tiago along. That means pushing, lifting and carrying his wheelchair and sometimes piggyback riding him up and down hills, through rocks, bushes and rough hikes. We made it with proper communication and team work easily. Getting to the top we found ourselves by a small lake where we were able to swim and refresh ourselves and be enchanted with Tiago’s willpower as he goes for a swim on his own. I will never forget this day,
Moreover, we practice our bodies and minds to stay strong and be able to use it on our training and everyday life. Respect the environment, i.e. only vegan food is served on Retiro.). Be strong, stay strong.
4 – Dive deep into your mind…
During Retiro communication is one of the most present elements. We talk. A lot. The normal tone is funny and light, but we go deep into important talks. As I mentioned before, on the first day Márcio Filipe presented a speech about his experiences overcoming Fear. For the second time I had the opportunity to dive into my mind and share some of my thoughts, I chose the theme “Longevity” for this talk. It went great! After the speeches we have Q&A and an open conversation. Always delightful and rich in opinions.
The deepest dive on Retiro for me was the headspace moments. We had group meditation, Wim How Method and Yoga. But above all, we are in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in tents and the silence is gold. I used so much of that time to meditate and be comfortable with my own mind. Peace of mind is an underrated concept on our current, fast paced lives. Retiro has given me the chance to enjoy peace. In community.
Finally, I want to say THANK YOU to the Retiro family: Alex, Patrick and Guita, for your hard work, it is truly appreciated. Thank you to all the attendees for the loving and fun weekend. Thank you ETRE-FORT for supporting the events and of course. Thanks Parkour, you make me happy.
Train Hard, Take care.
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