INTENTIONAL MOVEMENT, a key concept of which Parkour Philippines (PKPH) espouses during its activities. It is about carefully orchestrating which part of your body will go where and at what point in time - special attention be given to which body part will interact with what specific surface. While the thought of it may sound so ridiculously ordinary not deserving of much attention, it is actually often overlooked especially when beginners first engage a new movement discipline, or a more experienced practitioner trying to learn a new trick (collectively called in this article as the 'learner'). At first, learners would usually find interest in a specific movement or entire movement discipline through seeing more advance practitioners perform awe-inspiring feats. Then the decision to try it is made, of which turns into carrying out such movements through their own physical capacities. Having encountered multitudes of learners and being one myself, at first we all believe that performing most movements can simply be forced. That all it really takes is an ample application of muscle coupled with courage is enough, and then to press on and do it. But because of the intrinsic and extrinsic feedback mechanisms - eg sensation of pressure, pain, assessment from a partner, watching your own video - you suddenly realize that the movements executed by the inspiring advance practitioners isn't exactly that easy to recreate. That your movements look and feel absolutely different from how it first looked. As most of you will already recognize, the obvious difference between the beginner and the advance practitioner is the amount of time each has invested in practicing such movements. And while all those hours of time and effort can be conveniently clumped up in a single word as 'practice', it's the small minute details that happen within those moments that are what's interesting - of how the entire neuromuscular system incrementally tries to understand new movement patterns thereby minutely improving movement efficiency with each execution.
To enjoy minute advances, as most movement disciplines have it, Parkour also shares the concept of PROGRESSION - that one must master the first step first, then as the activity is learned and much easier to perform, the incremental advance step must be taken. Such small advances must be carefully designed and executed so that practitioners can successfully achieve an intended goal balancing appropriate adaptational improvements without being hampered by injury. INTENTIONAL MOVEMENT thus plays is a key role in this entire practice in that it craftily balances safety and adaptation. To be intentional would mean to put an extreme conscious effort into performing a movement with great control even if it may mean looking 'slow', 'awkward' or 'unimpressive'. In practice, there should be no shame in the lack of aesthetic value as the aim of each session should be for the body to learn. Adding to that, it is actually in seeing controlled movements that make executions look impressive - whether done by learners moving slowly or advanced practitioners displaying their skills. Advance practitioners are awe-inspiring to watch not only because they can do unimaginable feats, but more importantly because they make it look effortless - which fast but sloppy executions rarely exhibit. So in the practice of INTENTIONAL MOVEMENT, there is hardly a downside. To practice and experience what INTENTIONAL MOVEMENT is about, here are a few suggestions you can add to your training regimens:
- TRAIN WITH A BLINDFOLD - do this first on familiar spaces, with or without someone looking after you. Progress to spaces that are relatively unfamiliar with only low-height-variation surfaces.
- TRAIN UNDER LOW LIGHT CONDITIONS - same suggestions with number 1.
- TRAIN UNDER WET, RAINY CONDITIONS - nothing can be more challenging and consciously demanding than landing on wet surfaces. Take advantage of the current weather going on in the Metro and be better for it.
So the next time you head out, remember the concept of INTENTIONAL MOVEMENT and always have it consciously running through your head in conquering your next obstacle.
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