Chad running the best parkour class

Coaching Qualifications in Parkour

So there’s been some interesting things come up lately that have made me think a bit about the community of parkour coaches in the US.  Now, I’ve made the controversial blog topic before and I know what the fallout can be like, so I’m going to start this with a big disclaimer.  I do not in any way mean to insult or slander any of the other parkour coaches or gyms or communities or anything out there!  I have the utmost respect for anyone who even attempts to make a living teaching this thing that we all love, and I wish you all great success with your classes and your gyms.  Now on to the serious stuff.


Best Parkour class in Minnesota

It’s fairly easy to tell a great parkour athlete.  They have all the crazy pictures and videos, everyone knows their names, they can do all the big tricks, they have millions of hits on their youtube videos.  But does any of that make them a good coach?  When it comes to teaching other people, none of that matters at all.  In my experience (and most other people that I’ve talked to) most of the time it tends to mean the opposite.  Some athletes have insane talent that lets them learn things super fast and their bodies can do amazing things with very little effort.  These people tend to not understand that the normal person doesn’t learn that fast and needs progressions and techniques.  So when they try to teach, they don’t seem to do as well with any student who needs extra attention.  Obviously this isn’t always true, it’s just been my experience.


Chad Coaching the best parkour class in Minnesota

So how do we tell if someone is a great parkour instructor?  It’s not like they are going to get a million hits on youtube for their amazing instruction (unless they are making great tutorials, but even then it seems to be more about popularity than actual teaching skills). No one is winning any prestigiuos awards for teaching the best Parkour class in Minnesota. Nor will they get very well known at all except in their own communities.  Is how famous someone is in any way related to their teaching ability at all?  And should a good coach be concerned with getting famous for it?


I recently had a conversation with another high level coach from another state about the possibility of him coming out to Fight or Flight to run a seminar (or if you look at it conversely, me going out there to run a similar seminar).  We realized that it wouldn’t be very beneficial for either of these things to happen.  Partially because we are already both great instructors so our students don’t need us to fly anyone else in to teach things that they are already learning, and partially because we are not at all well known in each others communities.  What’s the point of having an unknown person come in to teach something that you’re already teaching?  (This wasn’t the actual full topic of conversation, but the gist was close enough)

My personal take on this is that I’ve always loved learning from as many people as possible.  As a martial arts student, I took classes from every instructor at the school I was learning at, as they all taught things a little differently.  Now as an instructor I feel like I can learn a lot from seeing other people teach, and I also believe that they can learn things from me as well.  That was the reason that I tried to do the professional parkour instructors conference here at Fight or Flight last summer.  But in the end only a very small handful of coaches showed up.  I felt like it could have been a fantastic way for us all to get together and learn from each other, but apparently not many other people saw it that way.


Best Parkour classes in Minnesota

The problem(?) I see in all this is that the parkour teaching community is divided right now.  It’s pretty easy to see the divide by the certifications that have been popping up.  There are the APK certified crew that is mostly East Coast, the APEX certified crew that is West Coast, and the WFPF certified crew that kind of takes up everything that falls through the cracks of the other two.  And even in the last couple years I’ve seen things that I thought could have been better if people were more willing to work together, but the events have not reached their full potential because of this split.  I’ve also seen plenty of not-so-friendly debates happen simply because people are on opposite sides.


This whole divide (and the entire topic of this blog post) might even be kind of silly simply because it seems to be based on who “teaches the best.”  And Alissa brought up a wonderful point about this on facebook that teaching itself isn’t exactly a new idea that can be revolutionized in any way.  Teaching is teaching, no matter what the subject, and people have been doing it since Socrates. So no matter who you learn to teach from (assuming you learn properly), we’re probably all amazing teachers.  That’s why I’m not really sure if this is so much of a problem because maybe the competition will simply make us work harder and in the end things will turn out better.  As long as we all just trying to always teach the best Parkour classes possible, I think it might work out.

parkour and freerunning classes in minnesota

Response to “The Split”

There is a classic old post by Stephane Vigroux that you should definitely check out here 

As well as Kurt Gowan’s response here

And honestly I think they are overreacting a little bit.  In our community in Minnesota where I have been teaching Parkour and Freerunning classes for over a decade, I don’t see this problem very much at all.  And where I do see it, I see a very easy way we can counter it.  By TEACHING…you know, like we’re supposed to.

Of course I’m going to get a lot of crap from this.  People will say things like “Of course you don’t see it, your one of them that just goes out and does huge flips all day and films it all and puts it up on youtubes.  And you’re one of the guys that owns a parkour gym and you host parkour competitions.”  Yes, that’s somewhat accurate.  But I’ve also been training parkour for 20 years.  And I spent about 10 of those years without filming anything because I hated cameras and I hated the way it was all about doing big tricks and putting yourself out on youtube and I hated indoor training because it wasn’t “real”.  But you know what?  I got over all that.

I have also been all over the country (sadly I can’t say I’ve been all over the world, but I’ve certainly met and trained with people who came from all over the world).  And I have met a ton of people who completely understand what parkour is and train it exactly as the original founders would have wanted it.  Of course these people are usually the ones who have been training the longest.  I think what these two articles are focusing too much on is the younger crowd and how they don’t “understand” the sport.  You know why the younger crowd doesn’t understand?  BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT TEACHING THEM TO UNDERSTAND!  I would say if anything, the younger crowd isn’t understanding because the older crowd is neglecting them. 

I encourage everyone who thinks this is a huge problem with the world (Including Stephane and Kurt) to come hang out with us and train with us in Minnesota and see how we do things up here.  Train at our gym and take some of our Parkour and Freerunning classes to see how we teach.  Come to our jams and meet our community.  Maybe it will restore a little of your faith in the future of parkour.  Just make sure you come with an open mind and don’t judge based on what you think you’ve seen on youtube and the fact that we have a gym, and yes…we hold competitions

Parkour and freerunning classes in Minnesota