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How to achieve a state of Flow


parkour flow

Flow is one of the most important abilities one can own, not only in Parkour. Learning how to flow will make you faster, stronger and better. Think of tango and ballet shows. The precise and continuous gliding from one move to another still inspires and amazes people today. And that is what we will learn about in this article.

There is more than just a string of moves performed one after another, in a Parkour ‘Run’. That is why you will need to learn how to flow. It is more than just being efficient. Quite frankly… it is not even about the moves. Parkour is about being able to move freely through your surroundings. And flow comes from the smoothness of your movement, which means you are able to move without staggering, toppling or worst of all – tripping and falling over!

But how do you actually learn how to flow? A lot of practitioners think that it can be achieved through training and rehearsal. Although training and repetition play a key role in the human learning process, creativity and play are the things that really teach you what flow is. So right now, let me show you a few personal concepts on how to train and achieve flow:

Do not ever train

Picasso used to paint all the time, Henry Moore used to sculpt the whole day. Others would have thought they were working themselves to death. But they actually were re-energizing and reinvigorating themselves. Even if they tried and they failed, or they lost their initial way, they enjoyed doing what they did and they found clarity in it. Do what you enjoy doing. Do not ever train.

It may sound philosophical, but in reality it applies to the training needed to get fluid movements. Going to a training with an open mind and without expectations can be the best thing you can do for your evolution. We usually set high standards for ourselves and when we fail to achieve them, we get distracted from the real lessons that we received in that day. Even if you did not learn how to flow, you learned many things. Like a better landing or better foot placement.

Do not try hard

An initial trap most beginners fall into is practicing and drilling singular moves over and over, e.g. vaults, kongs, precisions, cat-leaps etc. While this makes them expert at pulling off that one move, when it comes to linking up the moves to form a Parkour run — their flow and movement is jittery or staggered between moves. This ruins the elegance and beauty.

You should not try to force the movements together in a mechanical way. Let it simply flow. Jimmy Hendrix did not play guitar. He simply let his feelings flow unabated. Muhammad Ali used to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. (Do not start boxing in mid air though!). I doubt the French founders who began the art of Parkour, started by reverse vaulting over a rail and saying.. “OK I am going to reverse vault this rail till I can do it like a pro”. They did that move because they came to a point in their run where they found themselves with their backs to the next obstacle or in a position too awkward to simply use movements they had previously known and used. So they discovered a way in which they could tackle the obstacle when they were in that situation.

Do not follow rules

Parkour cannot be broken down and standardized for each obstacle. There is always going to be more than one way of doing something. Everyone is different and so everyone will have a different take on an obstacle, or the way in which they pass over it. The goal is to overcome an obstacle by choosing the smoothest movement to do so, which sets you up for the next obstacle in your path. It is the continuous spontaneous movement that defines Parkour rather than the individual moves in themselves.

That is mostly why it is important never to perform a move by itself. Always do two or three in a row. This will automatically get you into the habit of putting together moves and being aware of foot placement.

Pay attention to your feet and the course

The biggest secret in obtaining fluidity in the moves and in between the moves is foot placement and even more important being aware where your obstacles actually are. That is, being aware of where to position your feet before, during and after – pulling off each move in order to give you the smoothest movement from one obstacle to another. And secondly, always look at the obstacle in front of you and not at the one you are passing over, as this will only make you lose your orientation.

Being in the right place at the right pace will most definetly help you overcome, not only the first obstacle, but also the next one. The Parkour moves how we have come to know them now, have been developed over time as movements that allow us pass an obstacle from our current position without disrupting the flow of the movement. Foot placement will strengthen your confidence in movement and course projecting will increase your creativity and fluency. If you are aware of these two concepts, you will be able to move without hesitation or disruption to you speed.

Do not be somebody

An extra tip is to be yourself. Look at Daniel Ilabaca and Pacha. They are both extraordinary and have completely different styles, but what makes them good is the fact that they can do everything the other guy can, except they do not. They have their own ways of doing things. So do not limit yourself to a certain style or try to be like somebody. Do not concentrate on how to flow, but rather achieve it as a side effect of your main activity… movement.

And last, but not least, keep moving my friend!

13 comments
  1. Daniel

    February 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks for the tips man. Ive only just restarted Parkour mainly because of moving reasons. I felt a bit stuck on training so thanks for saying dont train.

    Reply
    • Dan Dinu

      March 14, 2012 at 8:02 am

      Hey Daniel,

      Glad to give some good advice. But don’t take it too literally, I meant to say you need to find a playful way to think and act about your training. Hope that’s what you understood.

      Have fun!

      Reply
  2. Arash

    December 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you.all the articles here was useful for me. I started parkour 4 month ago. now I have problem with a simple speed vault! sometimes it’s going worse than before. I think I was better before,when I didn’t know anything about parkour. but I think I find some important tips here.I’ll try again by the difference that I would be more myself.

    Reply
    • Dan Dinu

      March 14, 2012 at 7:59 am

      Hi Arash,

      Don’t bash yourself too hard. It’s not something you had to learn since your were a child, so it’s natural to feel clumsy at first. Keep training and don’t neglect your conditioning exercises, as they help tremendously.

      Reply
  3. Isaac

    March 14, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Thanks, I just recently got really into parkour but I thought there were specific ways to do it. Now I know that the flow everybody tells me about will come naturally thanks.

    Reply
    • Dan Dinu

      March 14, 2012 at 7:56 am

      I’m happy I could help. Just remember to keep training your courses, not just individual movements. Flow comes from putting together many movements in a continuous sequence, and you can only learn that by training accordingly.

      Reply
  4. Thomas sandal

    June 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I just starter parkour but dont u neede to train?:? But om glad u helpt

    Reply
  5. sport ekstremalny

    May 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    A sport or athletic activity in which the participant seeks to move quickly and fluidly through an area, often an urban locale, by surmounting obstacles such as walls and railings and leaping across open spaces, as in a stairwell or between buildings.

    Reply
    • Dan Dinu

      May 17, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks for clearing up the Parkour definition. I hope you found the information useful as well.

      Reply
  6. Joshua

    December 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about training and fear, and learning how to overcome your insecurities in your mind in dealing with it, and trying to grasp who you really are when doing parkour. I’ve been doing parkour for a year now, on and off, but now i really, REALLY want to get serious: EVERYDAY TRAINING SERIOUS. i know i have the passion for it and I know i can do it but i just want to have some support and proper guidance during my journey. I believe you can be my mentor, and help me with any questions, concerns or ideas i have.
    Thank You Dan Dinu

    Reply
    • Dan Dinu

      December 20, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Hi Joshua,

      Thank you for the kind words. I would be glad to answer questions or concerns you may have. I can’t say I will have a solution for all your problems, but I might be able to help out with some tips and tricks.

      Feel free to ask!

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Flow: How To Make It Look Pretty | Thirty Something Traceuse |

  8. Bart Houweling

    March 25, 2016 at 12:52 am

    I really want to start parkour, but I have a tiny problem. I am twenty and stiff as a shovel on account of me being a nerd.
    I have never done any kind of sport in my life actually… I do have strength enough to easily lift my own weight, speed enough to run up against walls etc. but I don’t have that springy energy yet I see in people who can really do parkour. obviously I feel a little stupid clumsily jumping over things and climbing onto things in my neighbourhood. do you have any ideas on how to become more flexible maybe? I’m just very… stationary… I tried backflips and stuff but I just can’t break my mental barrier, I don’t trust my body. same goes for anything dangerous actually.
    Really parkour would, I think, be one of the coolest things to do on earth. If you have any ideas on how to overcome (too much) fear of danger and ideas for becoming more flexible I would be very happy to hear.

    thank you for the article by the way, it’s very interesting.
    -Bart

    Reply

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