Traveling Ninja: London Edition
My second day in London began with another photo shoot for a project called See & Do (http://julieangel.com/blog-see-do/). I met the photographer, Violeta Beral, and a group of about five other girls (all local traceuses) at Canada Water and then we walked along the canal to find some cool spots for training and photos. We ended up at a red metal bridge towards the end of the canal and we stopped there to play. This was one of my favorite parts of the day because I really tested myself a few times.
It was a pretty easy climb up for me, although I was cautious because it was still a bit wet… and covered in bird poo. Lovely. But we all made it to the very top then back down without too much trouble. About halfway up the climb in the middle section of the bridge, one of the girls announced that she had a crippling fear of heights. I’m sorry, what? What are you doing up here? We told her she didn’t look crippled, and then I realized that she was really focused. You could see the fear during a few key moments but she was still up there. She explained that she keeps pushing herself and working through the fear, and that allows her to be in control of it. Amazing. What’s your excuse?
After the climb to the top, I went back down to the middle section which had some metal beams going across to the other side. Some beams were wide enough for two feet to fit comfortably, while others were only wide enough for one foot at a time. I was nervous yet curious and decided to walk out on the thinner beam to test myself. Maybe I was inspired by my new friend and her determination to conquer her own fears. Potential injury and a lovely landing on concrete awaited me if I screwed up but I felt comfortable, solid. I moved slowly and cautiously and I was aware of the height, but not anxious because of it. The only time I felt unbalanced is when I accidentally whipped my head around to look at someone who was talking… and then realized that I shouldn’t move that quickly… oops. I corrected myself almost immediately though and squatted down to avoid wobbling.
I’m not sure why I did what I did next but sometimes I just get these ideas in my head and the decision has already been made. Anyways, while balancing on this little metal beam high up in the air, I decided that doing a pistol squat was an appropriate action. And this is where I pause to finally acknowledge that it makes sense sometimes that “normal” people don’t understand people like me. Because seeing me do a pistol squat on top of a bridge makes absolutely no sense unless you’ve felt a similar urge to do something equally strange or crazy at some point in your life. It felt amazing to do it. But I really don’t have an answer to the question, “why?” I just… did.
Between this bridge adventure and my last experience climbing the Dame du Lac (if you missed that, read about it here), I was very excited about my apparent lack of fear when it came to climbing new things at various heights. Or rather, my solid control of fear. I believe fear exists in all of us as a survival instinct; it is just a matter of how each of us interacts with it and how much control we let it have over us.
After the bridge climbing, we continued our journey along the river, out to a pier, and then over to a set of walls that made for a bit of fun jumping. I did another thing that scared me here. Apparently it was a good day for this. I tried a jump from a brick wall up to a little roof. I wasn’t sure if I would make it and I was getting ready to do a cat leap, but my body did the thinking for me and suddenly I was on top of it in a crane position (one foot on top, the other foot dragging behind providing support against the wall). Yay! Then it was time to get down… shoot. Remember all that talk about how I am fearless when climbing? Yeah, well, I am totally NOT fearless when it comes to downwards precisions. I hate them. And this one was down onto a slippery brick wall. I spent a few minutes going up and down on my toes on this random person’s rooftop, spinning in circles and talking to myself. And then I finally made the jump. I came at it with too much force, but it was a well-executed landing and no slipping or falling. I was very excited.
Eventually, it was lunch time and I headed over to Vauxhall to meet K and friends for food and training. She ended up having a whole crew with her which was great because I got to meet even more new parkour people. Yay new friends! Oh, and the best part? Girls outnumbered guys seven to five. It was a perfectly random training day, and no one was a girlfriend or there for any other reason but training. It was fantastic. We all started making jokes about how the guys felt being outnumbered for the first time in their lives. Sorry, guys.
After refueling with good food, we headed to The Chainstore Academy (parkour/freerunning facility in London) to hangout and play for a few hours. There were a ton of people there at first which was quite overwhelming but I got some good training in… and admittedly spent a lot of time on my ass because I was exhausted and overwhelmed. It happens. But it was still really great to see K and meet so many awesome new freerunners. I worked on some wall runs, cat leaps, kong precisions, and a bit of swinging. After things calmed down a bit, we had a tea and stretching session upstairs which was nice. I really wish I had more time to spend in London. There are so many awesome people there that I want to spend more time with and really cool spots to train at too! Seriously, I did not want to leave Monday morning. Clearly, I will have to return sometime soon.