This interview is part of the archives. It was published on December 29th 2012 when I was doing an interview series for our PKLinz Blog. Most of the questions came from the community directly.
Blane is an english Tracer known to most of us for his passion for movement and hard training. Especially his high level of strength and control are unmatched. Additionally he is the author of some key articles considered standard lecture amongst practicioners of all ages and skill levels.
As a senior coach at Parkour Generations and one of the main driving forces behind the organisation, Blane has long made his passion profession and along with Parkour Generations is to be held responsible for major Parkour coaching game changers.
Alex: Hi Blane, first off: Thank you for participating in the interview!
Blane: (Thanks for the opportunity!)
Alex: What was your inspiration for your very recent article „A Call To Arms“? Was there a certain incident that motivated you to write down your thoughts?
That article I wrote was just the end result of some thoughts that I had been having for a while. There wasn’t one particular thing that made me sit down and write but it was just an accumulation of a few weeks of different thoughts, ideas and looking at the Parkour community from an outside point of view. It was a message to people who care about more than big jumps, whether they’re already practicing Parkour or just finding it now.
Alex: Your article “Dilution” has become a classic read for many of us and your recent article will as well.
– How do you define Parkour for yourself?
Blane: Parkour for me is a training method for life, a way to improve myself, to test myself and to maintain and develop my physical capacities.. as well as my ability to deal with difficult situations and fears. It’s a self-improvement tool!
– Alex: What does Parkour mean to you and how did it benefit you until now?
Blane: Parkour is not everything in my life but it’s a large part of it.. I suppose it’s a tool I have to improve my life and something that I can use to experience life with. Everyone has their own thing that is special for them and something that shapes the way they think and experience life.. and mine is Parkour.
– Alex: How could you imagine to be the title of an article you might write in 10 years? What topic could you imagine it to circle?
Blane: That’s a great question! Hopefully I won’t have to write anything in 10 years if the community is very strong and there are plenty of people sending out good messages and coaching safe, effective methods and the original messages of Parkour. But perhaps in 10 years I’ll write an article entitled “The effects of 20 years of training Parkour on the mind, body and spirit”
Alex: Are you a full-time Parkour-Coach or are you working additionally?
Blane: I have two jobs, my first is coaching Parkour and delivering ADAPT courses, and my second job is managing the coaching department of Parkour Generations.. so both Parkour jobs luckily!
Alex: What is your (backup) plan, if your mind is ready, but your body isn’t anymore? (disease, accident, etc.). What would you do without being able to do/teach Parkour (physically)?
Blane: I think if that ever occurred and I couldn’t train physically in Parkour, but could still do other training, then I’d still train very hard in other methods. But if I couldn’t train physically at all then I’d probably find that very difficult to accept. I’d probably spend my life refusing to believe doctors and the professionals and I’d still do my best to train. I’ve heard hundreds of stories of people being told they will never walk again only for them to come back and return to their sport. I’d fight to come back and even if it was impossible then my goal would become to just keep trying.. that would be the biggest obstacle I would face in Parkour. 😉
Alex: Which person in the scene had the biggest influence on you? (…or left marks on your way of training)
Blane: It’s really hard to name one person since quite a lot of different people influenced my training and approach, both inside and outside of Parkour, but if I had to name just one person in the Parkour community then I’d go with Stephane Vigroux. His movements and training methods heavily inspired me and influenced my training early on.
Alex: How much time do you put into teaching and how much in actual training for yourself? Could you give a relation in %? (For example 50% teaching/50% training)
Blane: I’d say of my ‘Parkour time’, 70% is spent training and 30% is teaching.
Alex: Is teaching a form of training for you?
Blane: I don’t count teaching as part of my training. You can teach and train at the same time but it doesn’t really work if you are truly giving all of your attention to your students, so I prefer to keep them separate whenever possible.
Alex: Could you also estimate the relation of your strength training / conditioning to other forms of your training?
Blane: Of my total training time at this moment, I’d say 40% is focused on strength development, 40% is focused on technical training and 20% is spent on conditioning and developing fitness levels.
Alex: What’s your opinion about the image of Parkour in the UK?
-On the one hand as the public perceives it.
Blane: Parkour in the UK is widely seen as a positive thing in most cases but it’s largely misunderstood. The public tend to perceive it as ‘that cool thing from tv’ and are impressed by it, but they don’t know anything about what’s actually being trained in most cases.
– Alex: On the other hand: How do you think the international community sees Parkour in the UK?
Blane: I think a lot of the worldwide community see the UK as one of the central locations for Parkour, which is interesting due to its French roots. It’s true that there are a lot of people training in the UK and that there are a lot of very experienced people here.. but Parkour is a truly global phenomenon and the UK is really quite small! People also think that we are very lucky in the UK since we have some very, very good training areas. 😀
Alex: You are well known for pushing yourself very hard in training.
-How do you determine the point where it would turn into destroying your body, rather than pushing the limits?
Blane: I think that knowledge comes from experience. I think I understand very well what is beneficial for my body and what is damaging, but there is a difference between knowing where that line is and choosing to cross it. Sometimes I do things that I know are damaging for my body because I believe there is a psychological benefit to doing so, but as long as I’m careful then I can recover from that training and become better from it.
Alex: How do you cope with injuries?
Blane: Injuries are a part of the discipline but I’m happy to say that I don’t get injured very much. I’m overly careful with my training in some cases but I really focus on taking care of any problems I have before they become bigger.. so if I feel some strange pain or issue then I’ll immediately deal with it and adjust my training around it and give the area time to heal or rest. This method has kept me relatively injury free since 2003! Whenever I have any minor injuries I try to stay positive and treat it as an opportunity to improve something else.
The following questions were originally designed for the general Parkour Generations interview.(as we already did) But as a coach and vital part of the organisation we would like to direct them to you instead. [The I in the next question refers to a particular member of our community]
Alex: When I was training with Parkour Generations during my stay in London i had the impression that especially the indoor classes follow a very physical way of training without any visible way of focussing on parkour philosophy.
-How important of a role is teaching your practicioners an understanding of a true to the original way parkour spirit?
Blane: I think it’s important that people understand the original way of Parkour and it’s difficult to pass this on in a coached session, but it’s very possible. The important thing is that students are exposed to these situations that naturally call for qualities like respect, strength, honesty, humility.. so we try to expose our students to situations that would do that, without forcing it on them.
Our indoor classes are only a supplement to training and we don’t call it Parkour training in itself. If someone only trains indoors then they will miss a huge part of what Parkour is! Therefore we use our indoor classes to build qualities like endurance, strength and power, and some technique work.. and we focus on presenting the original messages of Parkour more in our outdoor classes.
Alex: Do you encourage your practitioners to go training outside and connect with others as well? (i mean outside regular classes)
Blane: We insist that our students train outside of Parkour classes! It’s absolutely necessary that they do so if they want to really reach their potential in Parkour. I believe training outside, alone or in small groups, is one of the best ways to train Parkour and we actively encourage it. The Parkour community is very open and friendly in the UK so we want our students to go see that.
Alex: As a company one of the most basic needs is income. As a result of a discussion in the community the following question arised:
What effect has the need for income on the quality of classes? (If there is any)
Blane: There is a need for income for any company to survive, as you said. But this doesn’t have to have any negative effect on the quality of classes. In almost every case, I think that it means the quality of the class has to be exceptionally high, because people are paying to be there!
We’ve always approached coaching Parkour from the mindset that we’re not being paid to coach Parkour, we’re being paid for our time.. which is very different. Time is the most valuable thing a person has so if someone wants to use your time to learn something from you (as is the case with a coach of any activity), it’s completely fair that you someone should be compensated for that.. but it’s better if it never becomes the reason or priority for coaching. J