I'm not trying to be a crotchety old man, but back in my day...
|Crotchety Old Man|
Traceurs traveled a lot more. For national jams, for state jams, but also just to travel. Over the past year or so, I've noticed less and less of this. Sometimes traceurs won't even travel to the next town over, unless it's a big event (and even then).
I've identified a few reasons for this. A big one is that there simply isn't the need. It's the same reasons that Parkour forums aren't nearly as popular as they were four years ago. Why do you need to get online to talk about Parkour when you can just go outside with your friends and do it? Why should you drive an hour to train with people when you have your own community right here?
These are legitimate points. There was a time when I'd drive an hour to DC every weekend just to train with my friends there. I'd be there for 4 or 5 hours, then drive back. Factor in a teenagers sleep schedule, and there's a whole Saturday. I remember when it was a big deal to find out there were other people training in our town. What?? We don't have to drive all the way to DC just to train with other people!? Awesome!! (And then ALL of us would drive down to DC together...)
But it is still important to travel. Further than just your county, further than just your state. For reasons other than just National Jams. A friend of mine was recently interested in starting a Parkour gym, and came to me for advice. I wrote him a long letter, and the jist was that I was honestly concerned that he hadn't traveled enough.
Everyone who has started a "brick and mortar" Parkour gym (i.e. not running out of someone else's facility) has traveled extensively. To other communities, to other gyms, to other countries. Like my friend, they pretty much started their local community, but unlike my friend, they had seen how Parkour is being taught in Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Washington DC, North Carolina, Toronto, London, Paris, Lisses, Sydney, Tokyo. In addition to having experienced all these different methods of teaching, they have developed an extensive network of people to bounce ideas off of, learn from, and from which to gather support.
This is not just an article for people who want to start their own gym. This is an article for everyone who wants to really understand Parkour. Traveling is a NECESSITY. You should visit old communities, communities with gyms, and newer less developed communities. Always be looking out for things to learn, even when someone isn't trying to teach you something.
So this is my challenge to you, whether you are a newer traceur, or just someone who never really got around to visiting anywhere else:
You don't have to go to Lisses to go on a pilgrimage. Spend 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, some significant length of time. Contact a few Parkour communities you haven't ever been to. Preferably ones far away. Tell them you want to come visit, and ask if you can you stay with anyone. Stay for a few days, then go off to the next place. Keep a journal (or a blog) and record everything you learn and everything you feel during your trip so the world can learn from your experience.
Let distance be your obstacle, and cars, busses, trains and planes be your vaults.