When I first started parkour it was in downtown Houston. It was a casual engagement in a mostly unstructured environment. There were usually a couple of specific people that would lead little sessions here and there, but it wasn’t anything like a full-on class. Don’t get me wrong, I still train with some of those people today; they are like family now, but they were relatively new, too. It seemed like some of them really knew how to move well, but looking back, nobody really had any experience teaching it.
The first hugely transformative experience after the very beginning that I can remember was in 2008 when for the first time I met Yann Hnautra, Laurent Piemontesi, and Chau Belle in Austin, TX. They were among the first parkour practitioners I had met that were my age, and they are the Yamakasi founders from France! They introduced themselves to me > I didn’t have to introduce myself to them. They looked everyone in the eyes when they gave their greetings and salutations. It was also the first time that handshake was introduced to me (Which, by the way, now often confuses me when I meet someone new that isn’t in the parkour community.). I was so new at that event that at the Q&A I remember asking permission for us to also use their mantra, “We start together. We finish together.” It was resonating so clearly with me during that experience, I felt it deserved the same respect they showed us when they arrived.
Featuring Chau Belle, Laurent Piemontesi and photographer Jack Thompson.
I was having fun messing around with what I knew as just parkour up until that point. I was jumping on and off of stuff and hurting myself just like most others who start with little guidance. The Yamak slowed things down for me and put the discipline into perspective without even really trying. It was already such an unconscious competence for them that their movement seemed to flow like water. That experience, what I now know to be an ADD Experience, changed my life. It was the closest representation to all my previous yoga and meditation practice which also had a similar effect when I first began to understand those disciplines. My mind developed a much more intimate relationship with my body that weekend…through movement.
Now, seven years later, after becoming friends with and having many other memorable adventures with Chau and Laurent, I’m off to another ADD Experience (ADD Experience 2015). This will be the first time I see Yann since the first time I met him. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Laurent to see what’s new. And, I will meet Williams Belle for the first time (A few of my friends that know him say we share similar demeanors and that we would probably get along well.). The event is being hosted by famous author, friend, and founder of ADD Quebec, Vincent Thibault. I’m honored to also be mentioned on the roster as coaching with these guys this time. I never imagined my life would be where it is today.
Group photo from ADD Experience: Quebec. Featuring Williams Belle, Laurent Piemontesi, Yann Hnautra and the entire ADD Academy Quebec team.
Movement is life and every time I meet and connect with a dedicated movement practitioner I also become a better person.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you’re a student of movement and you can make it happen, your life will be changed by this event. That’s priceless.