The Art of Retreat through the Eyes of Andy Taylor

Craig Constantine giving an overview talk at Art of Retreat

   Since 2015, for those who do not know, the Parkour Leadership and Education Retreat or The Art of Retreat, is a weekend event held every year that includes content and activities co-created by those attending. The content and activities that occur throughout the weekend are interactive talks and discussions, movement sessions, project brainstorming and problem-solving, as well as brainstorming for early-stage ideas. AOR leaves lots of room for building of private and professional connections. This year's talks ranged from creating good coaches to event organization to gym building and design. There was also a governance session with Parkour Earth, Int’l Parkour Federation to discuss the history, and a talk on the future of the parkour governance. I had the privilege to be invited as a speaker, this being my second year invited.

   There were a lot of important talks and discussions that came out of this weekend. I thought one of the most significant conversations came out of the Governance Panels. Currently, in the world of parkour, there has been an ongoing topic about if our sport should be governed, how our sport should be governed, and if so, the best way to accomplish making an American governing body. So far, it seems that any conversations that have happened about it has all been backroom talk. Ending with no real push towards a concrete goal. I may be wrong, but I haven’t seen anything to tell me otherwise. After a talk with Eugene, I felt like there were an actual end goal and a solid plan to make it happen. Ideally, there will be a group of 6-8 organizations, the organizations with the largest parkour community support, that get together and talk about the basic format a parkour governing body would look like. Once that system is in place then that group will be disbanded with the people/organizations coming together to follow that group. For those want to know everything that went on in this talk there will be a video/Audio and transcription released mid-October. In my opinion, this will be the first concrete step forward in making a solid working American governance. I’m so thankful that something like the Art of Retreat happens to get stuff like this going.

Andy Taylor giving a talk about gym design.

   The retreat gave everyone a chance to talk freely about the things they do well in their trade and to learn from others who may do things better than them. I found this thought-provoking and inspiring because in my experience there is a lot of ego in the American parkour community. Though the way the retreat is set up, everyone was encouraged to leave their ego behind and really listen to one another. It gave leaders a chance to show others what they are doing and show us how they are building their practice with their specific plan. That their approach is working even if it is 100% different than the person who is sitting next to them, who is also running a successful practice. For example, I am pretty experienced in the build and coaching side of owning a gym; while Nancy Lorentz has been doing amazing work on senior citizen parkour programming. People with similar skills were also able to discuss and argue what work for them and how to do things better. All the building people can sit down and figure out how best to design obstacles, while all the organizational people can discuss how to better plan events. It also gave people who are newer to community leadership, the opportunity to sit, listen, and ask questions of those who have been in the business for a long time. Having a place to freely discuss all of these ideas will hopefully lead to more development in our sport and in our overall community.

   Art of retreat is an extremely beneficial event not only for our community but also for individual leaders and athletes. It gives everyone a rare opportunity to come together in one place, put egos away, listen, and learn from each other's experiences. It’s a chance to play on one another’s strengths and weakness’ and help better each other in ways that we may not necessarily get to on our own. What was discussed above is only a fraction of the things discussed, learned, argued, and developed from this year's Art of Retreat. Every year we get more and more out of this event. I look forward to seeing how everyone uses what they have learned at the retreat to grow and excel as humans, gym leaders, athletes, and coaches.