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Jack Butler interviews Dan Edwardes on Parkour, flow and adaptability | The blog of Jack Butler | Evolution Global | Home for Evolutionary Leaders, Global Citizens & Conscious Change Agents

Jack Butler interviews Dan Edwardes on Parkour, flow and adaptability

Dan Edwardes Profile Shot LargeWhenever I am outside and let my curious, kid-like side run the show, one of the things I always want to do is jump on things – trash cans, benches, railings, you name it.  I think it’s the native tendency which has always intrigued me about the world of Parkour (aka freerunning).  Even though I have never taken part in Parkour, I have seen plenty of videos, I am doing my own little Jack version 🙂

I am lucky to have a longstanding friend of a friend who is one of the guys in the world in Parkour and has done loads to put the discipline on the map.

Dan is just a lovely, authentic, talented guy who has boatloads of wisdom to share, including some stuff on adaptability and challenging the notion you need to eat at a certain time or shouldn’t miss a meal, which is well worth getting to in the 2nd half of our interview.

And he can do this:


Listen here to Jack Butler interviewing Dan Edwardes, world-leading Parkour expert:


Show links:

Dan Edwardes

Parkour Generations

Parkour UK

Parkour Generations Training Academy

Parkour Generations Turning Point Documentary

Parkour Generations Example TV Commercial – Footlocker

Parkour movie – District 13

Personal Science – example Seth’s Blog

Quantified Self

Krishnamurti – spiritual teacher, personal authority advocate and much more

Czikszentmihalyi – author/academic who helped put ‘flow’ into popular consciousness

Rudyard Kipling – IF

Granddad strength (example here)

University of Cambridge


Show timecodes:

0:00 – welcome and introduction

1:15 – Dan’s background in functional fighting arts – what could I actually do with my physicality?

2:35 – discovering Parkour, “an even more visceral, challenging and honest” discipline

3:30 – history of Parkour;  only 100 practitioners worldwide!

5:00 – building Parkour in the UK – being on James Bond, the Parkour movie District 13 – now fastest growing free sport in the world

6:25 – what’s Parkour really about?   The philosophy of being a complete individual, finding your limits (self-knowledge and self-control) and seeing solutions

9:20 – Parkour is a solo skill or closed skill, and there is ‘group flow’ or ‘co-active flow’

11:30 – the flow state in Parkour – what’s the relationship between directing experience and allowing experience?  Moving without thought + choreographed movement + improvisation

14:00 – all athletes aim for the zone;  difference with Parkour (and adventure sports) is that you’re not aiming for flow, you MUST find the flow (otherwise you will get hurt)

17:00 – the speed of evolution in surfing, skateboarding and Parkour is massive  (vs in traditional sports)

18:00 – strong transferability of presence in Parkour to to presence in life.  Most people prioritize future over present (or vice versa) – Parkour challenges that;  Parkour builds flow as a habit for all domains of life;  treating all life as training

22:10 – Parkour makes no distinction between urban and rural – it’s about adaptability.  And, we are not cavemen and we don’t live in the jungle, so your training is best to be contextual:  if you live urban, train urban (and urbanization will increase)

26:00 – why Dan feels his fittest and strongest ever at the age of 39 (and 12+ years of Parkour);  modern industrial lifestyle – finishes for most people when they leave school/college – so 18/19 peak is a myth;  tribal cultures – there is no concept of physical peak;  male muscular density is highest at 40 – and neuromuscular force continues throughout life  (aka ‘Granddad strength’)

29:10 – Dan’s lifehacks

– be adaptive (not have a routine, be prepared for anything)

– training to endure – go days without eating, drinking water, or forced wakefulness;  then you don’t phased by missing a meal

– shut up, don’t complain, find a way to deal with any situation 🙂

32:00 – easiest experiment: fasting for 24 hours

33:30 – find what works for you (personal science / quantified self) – maybe you don’t need a big breakfast?  Don’t be psychologically dependent on conventional science / thinking.  Your body will know what to do to heal itself or fuel itself

35:15 – Krishnamurti – “be a light unto yourself” – don’t rely on external authority – trust your own experience the most

36:15 – Csikszentmihalyi – ‘autotelic’ – being self-purposed  (at the end of the day we have a multinational company built on…jumping off shit!’)

37:50 – best way to get involved with Parkour, go along to a class or group (in most cities);  think like a kid (just start gradually)

39:20 – Dan’s developmental edges – previously, business/leadership/people skills;  now, how to remain yourself and true to yourself no matter what (however big your companies grow, for example)

42:00 – on attachment:  ask yourself, could I leave it all behind tomorrow?  Non-attached business [Jack: what I call ‘surrendered entrepreneurship’]

43:30 – remembering you are not your work;  Rudyard Kipling, IF:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss
[45:00 – Jack: don’t ask your friends to book appointments with you through your PA – I learnt that lesson the hard way]
45:30 – the importance of balance and quality of life – otherwise, you get diminishing returns on your efforts

46:20 – close out: our reminiscing…our Cambridge careers (didn’t know each other) and when we first met

About Jack Butler

Jack Butler is a social entrepreneur, coach, workshop leader and speaker. His latest venture provides full spectrum human development through coaching, programmes and other development resources for leaders and entrepreneurs. He founded Future Foundations (www.future-foundations.co.uk), a leading youth personal development training organization. He is a professional member of the International Enneagram Association and a former fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Jack was the IAB 2007 Young Entrepreneur of the Year runner-up and took a double first class degree in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. Jack spends his time between London and Brighton in the UK and Boulder, CO and the Bay Area in the US. In his spare time, he enjoys physical challenges (3 Peaks Challenge 2010, Tresco Marathon 2006) and supporting The Simultaneous Policy Organisation (www.simpol.org.uk). He is a Partner in Passion and Purpose of the Grubb Guild, a voracious reader of personal, cultural and spiritual development, and likes to inquire, journal, travel and write.

2 Responses to Jack Butler interviews Dan Edwardes on Parkour, flow and adaptability

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    […] to Jack Butler for his fantastic ‘Agents of Conscious Change’ website was special not only because of the great work Jack does in inspiring, motivating and generally […]

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