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On why he stopped doing Ninja Warrior

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

Craig: One of the things that I am passionate about is collecting other people’s stories because I think having people share something they’re passionate about really gives people a glimpse into who you really are. Is there a story you would care to share?

Elet: Maybe the story of why I stopped doing Ninja Warrior.

I was filming for my submission video for what would have been my fifth season on American Ninja Warrior. I had a very, very surprising [00:18:00] experience. I went out to a woods near where I was staying at the time, it was along a river in Laurel, Maryland and there was an old dam there, this used to be a mill town and that dam had a tower on the one side of it that’s maybe 40 feet tall. It’s a man made wall, off to the right hand side is the wall of the dam itself, which is about half the height, about 20 feet.

It was something I messed around on bouldering on before and [00:18:30] man made walls are great to climb because they got a lot of big handholds but they’re also interesting because a lot of times, especially with old walls, the grout disintegrates and makes a lot of sand on all these holds.

I was up there for the day and I was gonna film and I just set my phone up to film this one climbing route and I just started bouldering up and I got to a point where I was like, “Alright, this is high enough, I’m gonna exit right out onto that dam wall.” And as I start to traverse off to that side, I caught a bad handhold with a lot of sand on it. My hand [00:19:00] popped and I’m 25 feet off the ground and down below me is a boulder field of rocks. Ankle breakers, back breakers I mean some serious stuff and I started to barn-door off and I just said, “Nope.” So I just pushed off the wall.

I’ve got a video of it, I’ll have to send it to you. Ended up falling 25 feet. Landed straddling a rock, full compression on the landing, my tailbone was probably an inch and a half off of this giant limestone boulder and I came within an inch and a half of paralyzing myself and walked [00:19:30] away absolutely fine, not a scratch, not an ache.

In the shock that followed as I walked back to the apartment and as I sat there by myself thinking about what the hell was I doing, what happened, what took me there, I got into the idea of why was I filming that? What prompted me to get up into that, what was motivating me. I realized I put my life on the line for something that I didn’t necessarily believe in 100 percent. I’ve been doing [00:20:00] Ninja Warrior for years and years and it was a big production and there was good and bad. I met a lot of great people through it, I had good experiences but then at the same time, we weren’t getting paid. We were helping a show that last year made 750 odd million dollars and we didn’t see a penny. I was perpetuating that. I was involved in something that didn’t necessarily represent what I wanted to represent and here I was risking my life to get back on it.

I [00:20:30] kind of just had to balance that and that was the day I kind of decided I’m not gonna do that for a while. I backed away from it. It was just a really interesting thing because I always talk about analyzing risk and consequence. Consequence exist all of the time. Being alive implies the consequence of possible death. Parkour implies the consequence of possible injury, death, always.

There are a lot of people that like to say, “Oh, parkour’s safe.” Parkour is not safe. It’s not safe and it will never be safe. We can make good decisions. We can manage [00:21:00] risk, we can mitigate risk but its not safe. If it was, it’d be boring. We enjoy that dance. There’s consequences that’s real, which is the juxtaposition to the majority of things we do in our day to day life. The reason we don’t care about them, the reason we’re disenfranchised is because it’s not real.

If we lose it, that’s fine. Oh I’ll keep going, I can still put food in my mouth, I’ll still be alive. How many of us have been in a situation where we’re facing off with death, where we’re facing off [00:21:30] with real consequence, where we’re facing off with real social consequences. Because if this goes, I lose my job, I can’t feed myself. Mostly none of us and we avoid those places as much as we can.

Parkour is our way to play with that and that’s fun because it’s as high or low a stakes as you want to make it. We got this analogy of risk versus consequence here and we interact with that daily in parkour. Your decision making abilities, your technical training abilities, your ability to reiterate a jump again and again and again is [00:22:00] your ability to manage and mitigate risk.

I went and I took on this climb that always, a climb has a consequence of falling and I thought I could mitigate that risk and I was wrong because that’s the game you’re playing and occasionally you come up wrong and man, I walked away from it okay. I don’t know what it is, 15 years of parkour training helped me take a 20 foot, 5 foot drop straddling a boulder, inches a way from the goods and the end of my spine. That was a very serious day. [00:22:30] That’s something I just always like to talk about is this risk versus consequence idea with all things in life. It’s the game we’re always playing whether it’s social, whether it’s physical, whether it’s putting food on our table with our jobs or anything like this. We are always playing that game.

When you can separate that idea and say, “Well here are the possible consequences, here’s how I’m gonna mitigate the risk,” and you can begin to formulate a plan around things. Kind of ties us back into the begging of being very particular about the way that I train. It’s always that analysis of, here’s possible consequences, they [00:23:00] could be good or bad consequences of course.

Craig: I choose this challenge or do I move …

Elet: Or do I move to another one. That’s just kind of my take on how we approach challenge, how we approach life’s issues, obstacles, actual obstacles, because what we do in parkour is not interaction with actual obstacles. None of those are obstacles. You can go around them, we put them there, it’s a challenge, it’s our own choice.

Real [00:23:30] life obstacles, real life problems, it’s the same analysis and that’s one of the fantastic things about parkour is it gives you the tools to manage that, so you can approach it with the same mentality that you do these situations that have the consequence of life and death. You are more well equipped.

On his effort to raise awareness of Lyme disease

Craig: Risk and consequence is an excellent topic and on a more practical note, you’re an ambassador for the Bay Area Lyme Foundation and lets just touch on that because it is a really important topic.

Elet: Yeah, absolutely. [00:24:00] I’ve been working with the Bay Area Lyme Foundation for the last several years. Their mission is just to raise awareness of this bacterial infectious disease.

Craig: Lyme disease, right?

Elet: Lyme disease and be able to create opportunities for research to find a workable cure and to possibly create a vaccine or something of the sort. That’s kind of the science side. What I’ve been doing with them is just trying to get people aware of the fact that this is a very real disease. It’s [00:24:30] tough because it’s not a visible disease.

Craig: But it is practically endemic on [crosstalk 00:24:37].

Elet: Absolutely and especially in the region where I come from in Appalachia

Craig: [crosstalk 00:24:41].

Elet: Especially there are some places in western Pennsylvania where they’ve done tick studies and they find 85 to 95 percent of the ticks in the area are infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. I was diagnosed with it when I was 23 years old, I had had it for several years at that point without knowing it and [00:25:00] just attributed the symptoms that I had to other lifestyle factors. I was an athlete, you’re always feeling tired, you’re always feeling achy and who would have thought that was an actual thing.

Craig: Paralyzation is not normal, right?

Elet: Yeah, that was exactly what happened to me as I woke up one morning and the left half of my face was paralyzed. It’s called Bell’s palsy, it’s a common symptom of more long term infections of Lyme disease when it begins to affect the nervous system.

Speaking of risk and consequences and being selective about the challenges I undertake as earlier when I said, [00:25:30] we have a finite amount of energy, as I have a very finite amount of energy and when I reach that threshold, it’s done. I’ll begin to have these weird muscle spasms and cramps, my nervous system just gets fried and gets beat up. We might go have a training session together and you know– you’re a few years older than me– You’ll feel it for a few days and I’ll feel it for a week and a half and I’m supposed to be this big strong great machine athlete, but I got to be really smart about the way I [00:26:00] approach things because what do I want to spend my energy on.

What’s gonna help me grow, I have to be selective. That’s also helped me be very, very intentional and particular about the way that I train so that I can continue to progress with a disease that puts the majority of people to bed and kills some people.

Craig: Specifically with Lyme disease, I’ve never actually been tested for it but there is a test for it, you can simply go and have the blood test done and as long as it’s been long enough, it doesn’t give you a positive right away. [00:26:30] It has to have been in you for a certain period of time before the blood test is successful.

Elet: Well and its also difficult because the blood test is rated at about 66 percent accuracy, compare that too other major diseases, HIV AIDs, Hepatitis, all of these things 99.9 percent accuracy. There is one out of every three chances that you just get a false positive or negative. You just don’t know and its also, it’s a two tier test. If you don’t come up positive on the first one, they don’t run the second one ’cause it costs money. It’s [00:27:00] a tough system, it’s not a really functional test and it also doesn’t mean that you’re currently producing the antibodies necessary to come up positive on that. It’s really complicated scenario.

There are a lot of people, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation being one of them and the one that I work with, who are really pushing the research side of things to help people to be able to get access to a better test, a usable cure, and just really, really pushing some creative ideas in that direction.

For me on the day to day level, taking risk and [00:27:30] consequence, I’ve just got to be practical about what I do and know that, “Oh, okay, this works for me, this doesn’t.” Keep track of my diet real well, train like an athlete, which is an important topic for parkour people to begin to explore. Then manage the symptoms as they do present themselves. For me, it’s mostly nervous system based, which comes with some chronically tight muscles and the lower threshold for overuse injuries.

A lot [00:28:00] for me on a day to day is just taking care of myself and that’s why I’m really focused on the subjective experience of a lot of this is, how do I make this feel good because I don’t usually feel good. The majority of the time in fact I’m in physical pain. I feel great when I exercise though so how can I exercise more often, ’cause if I do too much then I can’t work out for the rest of the week. How can I balance it so I can do it every day so I can enjoy the feeling of my physical body every day ’cause that’s not something I get.

Three words to describe your practice?

Craig: [00:28:30] And of course the final question, three words to describe your practice.

Elet: I think I’d have to go with “break all the rules.”

That’s four, right? Just making sure.

Craig: That would be four if you …

Elet: That’s kind of the point. No, but in all seriousness, I would go– if I was going for a serious answer, I would say “strength of character.” That’s not just my approach for my parkour practice, that’s for most things in day to day life.

[00:29:00] This is an exploration, this is a journey that we’re on in this life. Being able to find the things that you want and being able to make that decision for yourself and then hold to that is what you need to do. I’m not here to have a battle with myself, I’m not here to have a battle with other people. I’m here to enjoy this life and I’m here to enjoy it with the people I surround myself with and part of that is being able to undertake [00:29:30] the challenges that my life presents without turning away from them.

Approaching them in the way that I want to and making that decision and then living with the consequence of those decisions, that to me is strength of character and that’s why I approach parkour the way that I do, it’s why I’m particular about my practice. It’s because I want to learn certain things from it, I want to experience certain aspects of this life that are brought only through challenge, that are brought only through embracing the process of trying to get, as pun-y as this sounds, [00:30:00] from point A to point B in anything. Whether it’s motorcycle mechanics, whether it’s a hike in the woods or whether it’s an actual parkour practice. Allowing yourself to be immersed in a process is very, very important for our mental health, for our physical health.

One of the consequences that that turns around is a very deep-seated idea of your own self-worth of a great feeling of self-confidence. That strength of character is what I looking for in almost [00:30:30] everything that I do.

Craig: Thank you very much Elot, it’s been a pleasure.

Elet: Alright, thanks Craig.

011. Ševo Saša: Yugoslavia, injury, and growth

011. Ševo Saša: Yugoslavia, injury, and growth

 
 
00:00 / 29:13
 
1X
 

Ševo Saša is best-known as an amazing and creative mover, and the founder of the Skochypstiks clothing line. In this interview he shares the story of his Parkour beginnings after the collapse of Yugoslavia, and his motivation for overcoming a devastating injury in his youth. Sasa’s love of people and profound discipline have enabled him to thrive amidst the cycles of life, and have lead him to tremendous personal growth.

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How did your training begin?

Craig: Balkans… Yugoslavia… Can you just unpack a little bit what goes on over there where you’re from, and how you got into Parkour? What’s going on.

Sasa: Yes. [00:00:30] Not started like way over from beginning, but shortly, like most people say oh “Where you from?” I say Serbia and they’re like “What the fuck, where is that? Is that like Siberia or Syria,” or stuff like that. Balkans have really a lot of bad history, a lot of war, all this stuff, yes I can understand. More people know about Yugoslavia than actually the Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Slovenia, all these countries. Like we had one now [00:01:00] we have seven, so I will not go into it so much. My story begins that I’m born in Yugoslavia and that country doesn’t exist anymore, and now it’s seven different countries.

I’m Serbian, who lived in Croatian territory, so a war happened. Everything crashed. We needed to move out, there was no choice. I go to live in Serbia where we don’t have, actually any family. Maybe it sounds weird that you don’t relatives in Serbia, but that’s not how it goes, [00:01:30] because my family lived in Croatian territory for the last 300 years or so. We move there and start … My family started life all over again. That’s actually where my Parkour story starts. In Serbia, a small city, really small, like 20,000 people. I got actually always in love for movement from the way I …

Craig: Yes, you don’t strike me as a guy who sits around [00:02:00] and eats potato chips.

Sasa: When I had three … I crashed with a bicycle because it was really taller than me, I shouldn’t drive it, but I crashed in the wall, and I kick my two teeth, or three, from, tooth?

Craig: Yes, teeth, that’s fine. It’s part of the schtick, we love the accent…

Sasa: Yes, I just crashed it in the wall … I’ll have all these different stupid things what I did in my growing up. There came that period when I [00:02:30] had like, watching my father actually doing stuff in 40, 40 plus. Doing hand stands, running.

Craig: Your dad was working at that point there, and what are you doing?

Sasa: Nothing. [crosstalk 00:02:44] Yes. I was actually playing PlayStation … 1, Driver and Colin McRae.

Craig: PlayStation … 1, to be clear.

Sasa: Colin McRae Rally and all this stuff. Yes, I had reason to that because I had a really [00:03:00] bad crash. Long story, I was smashed completely, I lived and survived an accident with all broken body. Ribs, legs, skull, everything. Not going into that, I had recovery for one year. During this recovery I did this, Sony games. I was a teenager, like high school and stuff and playing games. My father was working out, doing hand stands, [00:03:30] doing push ups, running. He was around 40 and he’d everyday poke me, like “What are you doing? In your age I was running, climbing trees, doing handstands, walking for 100 meters on hands and stuff like that.” “You’re sitting in front of the television and doing nothing” I’m like “Yes, yes, whatever.”

Craig: Go to work old man.

Sasa: Yes, like that’s, you know … With so many times repeating me that, he [00:04:00] got into my head. Then I wanted to do that handstand, but I didn’t want him to know I’m practicing. When he’s at work I’m doing handstands and driving, and then when we got back to work I play still, PlayStation you know.

Craig: It’s like stealth training.

Sasa: Yes, yes, and then after like a month or two, he’s coming back, I get in handstand, having now do it in front of him, you know, inside of the garden. He’s coming back from work and I’m doing a handstand [00:04:30] in the garden and he just passed. He didn’t saw me, like pass through the wall, nothing. I’m like “What the fuck?”

Craig: I’m up-side down.

Sasa: Yes, like why he didn’t say anything?! I went in the house, “Did you do [sic, see] what I did?” He was like, “Yes, it was shit.” My dad was like “If you want to have really kind of good form of handstand, you should do every day 100 pushups and 300 [00:05:00] abs.” I’m like “What?” He said “Yes, yes, this form is shit, everything is shit. If you want to do a proper handstand do it right.” He just actually wanted to kind of poison me to start doing, keep going.

Craig: Keep pushing you further right?

Sasa: Yes, yes, so I started doing fuck, like … everyday like crazy. Pushups and abs and all kinds of different exercises. I did this for a month while training handstand, so of course in one month my handstand was better. After a while, I asked him like, [00:05:30] “Okay, did you walk down the stairs?” Then he said “No.” Like on handstand. I said “Okay, I got you there. I will do it.” You know, and he said “Yes, yes, yes, you will do it.” Yes, no, that never happens … never will happen. I was so into that challenge, that was like my first challenge. I need to overpass what he did, just want to do that. That was my only goal at the moment.

Craig: Teenage rebellion.

Sasa: Just focus [00:06:00] on that. After one month too, it happened. I did one stair, two stairs, three stairs, ten stairs, fifteen stairs and say “Tada, I got it, look at this!” He was like “Good,” but still not proved nothing, like he …

Craig: A little stingy with the positive reinforcements?

Sasa: Yes, like I did that and that, and then like “Oh come on, what’s happening with this guy?” After some short period I got to see one of the Parkour videos [00:06:30] and instant moment I watched that stuff I like, “I want to do that, forever.” I just went out. I watched that video like a hundred times and I go out to try one thing, it’s not working. Come back, watch video like 30 more times, go outside try it like 20 more times. Go back, go out, inside, out, inside, I just tried, tried, tried. I did some but was, you know.

Craig: Yes, it’s extremely hard to learn Parkour from a video.

Sasa: It was so hard, but I can say that actually … [00:07:00] What’s different there, watching videos and watching now videos is because I had only one video. I analyze it so deeply that I actually learned a lot from that video. People today watch videos just to watch, they don’t analyze, they don’t get stuff, they don’t break stuff in videos. They see, they get impressed and they forget it.

Is there a story you would like to share?

(This question is part of the “Story Time!” project.)

Craig: One of the questions I love to ask people is, is there a story you would like to share?

Sasa: Yes of course, everybody has a story, yes?

Craig: Yes. Well, is there a story that you [00:07:30] can share that we’re not going to look things up in a law dictionary.

Sasa: Oh, that story. You need to be more precise because I have different stories.

Craig: Okay, can I have a story about Laurent?

Sasa: Oh yes, that story. What I wanted to say, there is a bunch of stories we have, and for some of the stories you need kind of the trigger to pull them out, but for some stories you don’t need a trigger. Like just stick in your mind forever. This is one of the stories that I think probably I’ll never forget. I had the luck [00:08:00] to spend a lot of time with Laurent and also that period of training with him was … whoa! you know… like completely changing your mindset about everything. It’s like okay, restart. One of the these stories. It’s January, very beginning of January in Milan super cold, minus five, seven, I don’t know. Didn’t [00:08:30] really care.

Craig: We’ll go with, “cold.”

Sasa: It’s about zero, it was a little bit snow. It was snowing that day. We had this routine that we go every day, outside to train. Mostly conditioning in the morning, afternoon we teach or move with him, but this day was special. It was super cold, I just wake up and so to doing the … I look at Laurent and at the moment like, “Do we really train today?!” [00:09:00] He said “Yes, of course.”

Craig: Why is today any different, right?

Sasa: Yes, and then “Yes, but like, what do we do?” He’s like “101, you know,” that’s like super exercise. Training that you spend over one hour down. So I said “Okay, whatever.” We go out, super freezing, super not in the mood for training. That happens to everyone. Just [00:09:30] environment and all this stuff will happen at the moment like, I really don’t want to do it. I didn’t tell to him I don’t really want to do it. I think I said that …

Craig: Yes, you don’t want to actually say it, right.

Sasa: No, I think I even said like, “Oh, why?” I start kind of complaining and all this stuff.

Craig: How did that work out? Now he’s going to go sooner right.

Sasa: Yes, that was the point when he said, “Okay, so we don’t need to do it with the breaks or [00:10:00] … we do it with no stop.”

Craig: Maybe you should quickly unpack what 101 is. I’m laughing because I know what it is, but what’s 101?

Sasa: 101 is like you have eight exercises and you repeat each of these exercises 101 times.

Craig: Right, and the eight exercises are all …

Sasa: In quadrapedal, yes.

Craig: Yes, they’re all quadrapedie, hands and feet on the floor. That’s eight exercises, none of which are easy or relaxing.

Sasa: Yes, yes, no, when you go for 101 you don’t stop … The key of this exercise, when you go for one, in original training you go do one and you kind [00:10:30] of rest a little bit and then you go for another one and then you rest and go further and blah blah blah. You go through all eight of these, and then when you finish you kind of again take a short break and then you do a pyramid of these eight exercises, then you do eight exercises by 11, 21, 31, 21, 11 again.

Craig: Right, of each exercise.

Sasa: Then 101 is kind of over, yes. Then I know that because I do this already every week at least once, and it was fine. It was all these muscles burning and you’re [00:11:00] always like “Oh fuck, this is hard.” Then you survive, because you did before, you know how everything works. You will survive it again, but this day was completely not for that. I was so much complaining and telling how I would, kind of myself that I wouldn’t do it, and then in that moment something go through my mind, like I don’t want to do it. My body don’t want to do it, my mind don’t want to do it, why I am here? What’s happening to me? [00:11:30] Then Laurent just. “Okay, let’s start.” He just started, and then I didn’t have a choice. I start or I go home.

Craig: Right, go home home. Not just back to Laurent’s, go home.

Sasa: Yes, yes, but like what am I doing? I’m here, so let’s just start. I started and the moment I put my hands down, like “Fuuuuuuuuck, why?”

Craig: It’s cold, right?

Sasa: Yes. Go ahead and try it, and you will see, like everyone just going and trying it. You will see how hard it is. [00:12:00] He’s starting, he’s doing it, I’m following a little bit slowly, but following, and then he, at like until 20 minutes or 22 minutes until first part of all exercise by 101 time. I was a little bit behind him and I couldn’t believe it. I was pushing to myself, okay, I will do this set and I’m quitting for sure. I am not going further.

Craig: Yes, I am doing 101 but I’m not aiming for the pyramid.

Sasa: Yes, and then [00:12:30] I will still be happy to finish this part. It’s going to be around 25, 30 minutes. I’m super happy with this. I did it, and like okay, I will go home, and then I look at him and he’s already doing the pyramid.

Craig: Yes, no break, it’s just like … It’s cold, so we’ll just put it all together.

Sasa: Just do it until you know you have energy or heat-ness, whatever. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t even look at me, you know what I mean, he just …

Craig: Kept going.

Sasa: Yes, and I’m like “Fuuuuuuck!” I’m like, “I need a [00:13:00] break.” On that break, like, again, like why I am doing this? Like why. I couldn’t understand at that point, and I just continued. I didn’t know how or what, but you know. I had that feeling that I don’t have a …

Craig: Yes, your hands are numb. Nothing below the wrist.

Sasa: Yes, I have feeling I am crushing with the bone, directly into the …

Craig: Like making a fist right?

Sasa: Yes, like just the bone, this one.

Craig: Oh, right. Yes.

Sasa: I had that feeling that I don’t have a hand, I felt like [00:13:30] just a stick.

Craig: A stick. I’m on my Radius and my Ulna …

Sasa: Yes, just sticking this stick in the ground and like, fucking cold. He did it, he finished it, and I’m trying to keep up. I am almost done the pyramid and he’s like waiting [for] me in a handstand. It’s like he don’t say anything, you’re just like …

Craig: He just like sticks it up there, I’ll wait for you, right?

Sasa: Yes, yes, like “Come on Sasa.” Like [00:14:00] don’t say anything but I know. I can not explain how that was motivational, because if he wasn’t there I would never do this. This person pushed me so much, just being there, just following him was something incredible and magical that you cannot get always with …

Craig: Yes, it doesn’t happen with everyone.

Sasa: It doesn’t happen with everyone. Everybody can motivate [00:14:30] us in different ways, that’s true, but this special moment is something that I will remember forever. Because I did something that I really didn’t want to do, I kind of refused it with all my body, with everything, and when we ended I think I hugged him so hard, I was so happy doing this, and then we went for like a cup of tea. I think we discussed [00:15:00] about what we did and how awesome that was, but you know. I did crazy other challenges with quadrapedie and all this kind of stuff, and it was always hard, but this is something that just …

Craig: First time you ever faced a challenge that you honestly didn’t want to do.

Sasa: Yes.

Craig: Don’t want to do this.

Sasa: Yes, that’s kind of like the story. I don’t know, I want to say just thank you Laurent for making me much durable and resistible and …

Craig: Yes, and making [00:15:30] you realize that you really could do it. He saw that.

Sasa: Yes, when I now need to do like 2K crawl or something, pfft, you know.

Craig: Dude, it’s above freezing, the suns up, what the …

Sasa: Yes, like [inaudible 00:15:41], nothing.

Craig: Right, this is awesome!

Sasa: Now I don’t have that like death mindset, which is builded in my head after that one, it’s incredible. Just after that I did like a building, 30 floors, quadrapedie backwards. Okay, you know, no raining, no minus 15.

Craig: [00:16:00] It’s warm, right.

Sasa: Yes, like just get a little bit sweaty, a little bit tired and that’s it.

Craig: Just did you just say reverse qm 30 floors, get a little bit sweaty …

Sasa: Actually, I will correct myself, 31.

Craig: 31, oh, wonderful.

Sasa: It’s the tallest building in Belgrade. Of course no stop, no getting up.

On staying motivated

Craig: I see you many places and you’re doing a lot of things and you’re always traveling and teaching, and obviously training as well. There are only, when I last checked, 24 hours in every day. How do you manage to find the motivation [00:16:30] to put something that’s actually useful and meaningful into your time? You, like “I have a free day,” how do you get motivated to fill that day with something meaningful and not end up back in front of the PlayStation 1?

Sasa: Because I don’t have a PlayStation 1 anymore.

Craig: Oh I knew, as soon as I said it I was like…

Sasa: Yes, I will definitely do that Driver and Colin McRae Rally all over again. No, I’m joking. I didn’t play games actually until that point. Motivation, [00:17:00] it’s an interesting question all the time because we fight in different ways against this. I think how I am here so long is that everything changes constantly, always new things. I’m not getting stuck with that, “I need to do this all the time like that or like that.” My training evolves so much from the beginning until now, that [00:17:30] when I look back I just cannot compare that person with this person kind of. Yes, in some things.

Craig: Right, you can hardly recognize yourself when you …

Sasa: Yes, like movement wise and training wise, because the first two years I cannot say that was training, was just learning about the discipline.

Craig: Learning about some physical abilities of your body.

Sasa: Yes, like learning about what I saw in that video. Then you meet people, and then I had completely new two, [00:18:00] three years doing something else. It was a completely new life again, because of new people. Actually first people, and then sharing with them what I have what they have, it was amazing. Then that happened in another city, and then I moved again. In that first small city, and then second biggest city in Serbia it’s Novi Sad so I stayed there for a couple of years. I trained there with people … I consider that was [00:18:30] the moment where I develop my Parkour. Where I actually started training, sharing, doing community stuff, doing challenges together. Growing up in Parkour, that’s like kind of my childhood, but I had first Parkour friends, just talk about Parkour all the time. How we solve this problem, how we do this, how we do that.

Craig: What are we doing next, right.

Sasa: I didn’t have any other choice, I had actually a work, because I moved out of the city, I needed money [00:19:00] to pay apartment. I did the regular work for 7, 8 hours per day, and then I did training. There was nothing else. You earn money for life, and then you train.

Craig: Then you sleep and then you start over.

Sasa: Yes. Luckily I had this work from beginning of my training. The moment I start training I had the work, so I get in that mindset that I didn’t have that excuse that when I start working, “Oh, I can’t train anymore.” Because, that [00:19:30] happened from beginning.

Craig: More like you had to squeeze the work in around the training. I sleep, I eat, I train and then [crosstalk 00:19:37] work.

Sasa: Yes, then you sacrifice everything else. There was no going out with the friends every weekend, getting drunk, doing whatever, whatever. Every time I go I finish work, I go train or I teach and I go sleep and then all over again. I wasn’t– I never was [00:20:00] thinking about that I’m actually sacrificing something you know. For me that was what I want to do. For me it was much more fun to go for, if I work first or second shift for example. If I work first shift, afternoon I can train with my friends because they were all lazy to get up in the morning at 3:00 in the morning. Then I get this benefit when I’d work afternoon. I’d get up early, I have breakfast, I go train by myself and that’s where [00:20:30] you combine these two trainings, training by yourself for two, three years. When you train in the morning, every second week, and training afternoon with your friends.

Combining two, these different styles, into one, it’s very magic happen. Because then I actually get to meet myself and to learn more about myself in that period. That I think where was the good base of [00:21:00] my understanding Parkour, and the discipline and the training. That’s how I get to discipline myself. If you work afternoon you don’t get to sleep until 10:00 and then chill a little bit and go to work. No, I get up every morning, I train, I go for work. When you can discipline yourself just by falling in love with movement, if you love something so [00:21:30] bad you can do whatever you want. For me, that love for this has been, was the key from the beginning. If I didn’t fall in love that never will happen. From there, I choose … I mean that I had… 21, 22… to move from Novi Sad, from Serbia to Croatia.

That was [00:22:00] a huge step, and then I go there and I open a class with Americo, my friend from Croatia, and that was another– completely another level. Completely new city, new obstacles, new people. I will say, first new people and then new obstacles, because it’s much more important, and completely new ideas. I get from one kind of [00:22:30] sample, or one idea for Parkour in Serbia, however it’s close, we all think differently. These guys one idea, these guys have another idea, so when you’re dropped in this kind of training you evolve so much. You learn so much just by changing environments.

Craig: You can get exposed to those fresh ideas right?

Sasa: Yes, just fresh environments is all. I was staying three years in Zagreblearning a lot from these people, and also [00:23:00] by myself. That’s where the pirate ship actually happened. The pirate ship happened just like two weeks or one week before I get VISA for America. That was 2014, and then in 2014 … I’m going to say that was the kind of, the big turn again. Every kind of three years something happened in my life, [00:23:30] accidentally. Probably not accidentally, but something really big change happened and that is important kind of checkpoints why …

Craig: Life cycles.

Sasa: Yes, why I am so long here.

Three words to describe your practice?

Craig: Of course the final question is, three words to describe your practice?

Sasa: Whoa, so hard question. Maybe there hardest of all of them so far.

Craig: You see right through my plan. That’s exactly why it’s on the end.

Sasa: Wow, it’s … I think [00:24:00] that I already get this question before and it’s always change, because constant progression and everything. I will say first love. Love for movement, love for people, love for everything what Parkour community is doing. Creating so much love inside. I’m here, in between 100 people, I know more than 50 people here, and we [00:24:30] hug every day.

Craig: It’s actually hard to get anywhere around here, you try to … Like you have to leave 10 minutes early, so you can stop for every hug, handshake, laugh, joke. It’s like …

Sasa: Ninja game, all this stuff. It’s love. It’s created a circle of big love between all these people. That’s magic, like that’s, yes, what this discipline did to us. Give you a lot of love, that’s for sure, number one I think, love.

Number [00:25:00] two, discipline.

Craig: That’s a good word.

Sasa: It’s here from beginning. If you discipline yourself first then you can kind of fit in this kind of community. Also, this discipline always can progress and progress and progress.

Craig: Yes, it’s a community of effort. Not a community of accomplishment or specific goals, it’s a community of effort … and that requires discipline.

Sasa: Yes, like for sure discipline is here. To all of us [00:25:30] say here, whatever this discipline is, have a name, it will change or not. It’s not important but it’s going to be always about this discipline for sure.

Third one, I think I will say people, number three. Because it’s all about people, it’s … I’ll actually quote my friend Boki. I get in conversation with him, it was like [00:26:00] he didn’t travel for places, he didn’t travel for obstacles, he didn’t travel for this crazy stuff around. He’d travel to talk.

Craig: To people.

Sasa: To talk to people, to jump with people, to do things with the people. People are key.

Craig: People are unique, right.

Sasa: Yes, well unique in that key of all this, you know. These, all the amazing connections [00:26:30] that he created and all different parts of the world, but we shortly come back for them. Yugoslavia, where we started, and I think it’s going to be good to him there because … on the end, we had this big conflict between all these countries and then what we did, early 2000s, it’s where we connect these two communities, Serbia and Croatia [00:27:00] and all these friends sharing everything between, and Parkour was the link between all these countries who had war between before. Traceurs– Parkour people were the key of this connection, and I hope they will continue all this great work. One of the great things that we did, it’s 2011, it was called first Skochy jam, it was a camping in Serbia that we have [00:27:30] people from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia for the first time combined ever.

Craig: Wow.

Sasa: That was one of the things that made me the most proud. Organizing with all the friends, until this connection is just stronger and stronger and stronger. I hope that [00:28:00] will continue growing up in this direction. People– because we are just the people. We are not … This is not Serbia, this is not Croatia, la, la, la, there is no religion involved, there is nothing between us, there is no borders. We are people, because this is actually the most magical thing what has happened and this link between, is literally the magic [00:28:30] that combine and connect these people after so many bad things. We’ll end up with this connection because, it’s for me maybe the most important work we did so far.

Craig: Thank you very much Sasa. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

Sasa: Thank you man.

What are you doing?

(This question is part of the “What are you doing?” project.)

I’m training Parkour, which is a discipline kind of like martial arts, but instead of training you to fight, it trains you to move your body through your environment. So its techniques are running, jumping, and climbing. And it’s just for overall bettering of self, trying to stay fit, trying to– again– move through your environment as efficiently, or just as creatively as possible.

What are you doing?

If you’ve ever played (or trained) in public, someone has asked you this question.

I’m not talking about the strange birds who shout things like, “Can you do a back flip?!” or “Get down from there!”. And I’m not talking about the alligators who get mad or try to chase you away.

I’m talking about the average, every-day people who notice what you are doing, and are genuinely interested in what you are doing.

How do you answer their question, “What are you doing?”

Posts which are part of the “What are you doing?” project are all tagged with What are you doing?

010. Matthew Poprocki: Artistry, challenges, and personal expression

010. Matthew Poprocki: Artistry, challenges, and personal expression

 
 
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Matthew Poprocki does what he loves. Formally a visual artist, he is now a movement artist who likes to play and overcome obstacles. He discusses the challenges he’s faced and how he rediscovered his artistic expression through Parkour.

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