Learning the Language of Movement

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Movement is like language: to be able to utilise it you must understand the alphabet, know how to organise letters into words and then how to combine those words using grammar and syntax to create sentences. The letters alone are useless, only sentences enable fluency and function; equally, ill-formed and incomplete sentences, poorly spelt and constructed, are clumsy, confusing and ineffective.

Movement is much the same. Basic human physical attributes – strength, joint mobility, flexibility, power, balance, etc – are the letters of movement; essential, but, if left in isolation and never combined, useless.

Combining these brings us words – healthy biomechanics, functional kinetic chains and patterns, strong neuromuscular pathways. But, again, by themselves words are limited forms, only becoming useful when put into a context.

To be truly capable we need to be able to form whole sentences. Sequences of words used in an infinite variety of combinations that can be applied to any situation. Endlessly adaptive, creative and effective. The very purpose of language. And any language is only proven useful when it is put to the test as a communication tool, with the best languages being those that can adapt to any scenario. Similarly, we only truly know if our movement and physical training is useful once it is put to the test. That test is the challenge of true functional training. Simply put: do your physical abilities work?

Avoiding Limited Training Paradigms

Bruno Peixoto [photo Palmer & Pawel] London, UK

Unfortunately, all too often we see limited training paradigms that really only ever focus on the creation of letters. At best these paradigms put together a few words – but very few fitness development methods go as far as creating sentences of movement, and so they regularly fall short of creating functionally capable individuals that can apply their attributes to whatever physical task they may encounter.

To be truly functional means to be a good all-rounder, a generalist. Or, rather, a specialist in everything. Of course, that is how the human body evolved and what it is actually designed to do – a bit of everything, in order to get us through, over and around the variable terrain we encountered in day to day living. That adaptive nature is what enabled us to come to dominate the planet, after all.

So over-specializing is perhaps not the healthiest option for our bodies. Having superb mobility but zero strength is as incomplete as being overly muscle-bound but without the appropriate mobility and flexibility. Possessing powerful arms but a weak grip is as much a problem as having hugely strong leg muscles but ankles and hips that are limited in their ranges of motion.

Parkour will explore your every physical attribute, and some mental ones too, and will put them to the test. It will reveal a person’s weaknesses and strengths and show you that you are only as strong, only as functional, as the weakest link in your kinetic chain.

It will identify the missing letters in your alphabet, fill them in, then explore them in the creation of powerful new words and help you to express your movement in full sentences. Parkour will teach you to flow from word to word, to master the grammar and syntax that link one movement to another and, ultimately, will give you true control over both your physical and mental potential.

For more information on practical movement training and the benefits of parkour visit Parkour Generations