Traceur Eric Wolff on Parkour and nomadic life

Every traceur I've met in Hawaii mentioned the name of freerunner Eric Wolff, who although was not a local, has spent only about a half a year living, training and traveling on the islands. Judging from the humbled and lit up faces of the people who spoke of his technique and movement, Eric has become somewhat of a local celebrity. I was intrigued and asked Richard Skowronski, Hawaii Parkour leader, to introduce me to Eric.

Eric was on the Big Island at the time, but he was eager to hop on the plain to Maui, spend a few days training with Richard and have me document their adventures in nature along the way. Below is a short version of my interview with Eric.

Anya: Tell me about yourself: where you were born and when you started doing sports. Who was your first athletic influence in life?

Eric: I was born on January 12, 1985, in Lee's Summit Missouri, a town just outside of Kansas City. I got introduced early to sports and movement through my family. When my father was growing up he participated in all kinds of sports, mainly baseball and cross country. Eventually, he would go to college and receive a degree in physical education. By 3 or 4 years old I was in many activities myself.  Soccer, football, baseball and Bushido Kan Karate are the first I can remember. Throughout the years I went on to try many other forms of movement; gymnastics, track and field, diving, cheerleading and even backyard wrestling before finally making my way to parkour.

Anya: When did you start doing PK seriously, and how the practice shaped your personal philosophy and your life views?

Eric: I started training parkour in 2001 and pretty much have done it every day since then. There's always something new to learn, a skill to progress on or train in a new environment that's providing unique challenges. So it's always been a constant in my life. I've felt I shaped Parkour to suit my philosophical views instead of it being the other way around. The philosophy's of Zen followers like Dogen and Saigyo and Taoist like Lao and Chang Tzu have always resonated with me.  Parkour's been a tool for me to be "in the moment". When you're moving, there's nothing outside of that. The sound of feet on concrete, the calm that comes before a jump and the happiness that comes back in after you're successful. It's been the easiest and most consistent way to bring me joy and keep me in the "here and now".

Anya: Tell me about your current training routine and what is important in these practices

Eric: My training varies greatly depending on my surroundings or the season. If I'm in a city most of my training is in the form of actually Pk movement. I find a spot and work on whatever comes to mind. Mainly focusing on a technical style of parkour.  During the winter, I focus a lot on stretching, condition and cardio. Years ago I put together a program that started with a massage and joint rotation, then went into stretching and conditioning, and finished with cardio and drilling parkour movements. Every day I'd spend a couple of hours going through the routine trying to stay at least at my current level through the season.

AC: When did you start traveling and leading a "nomadic" life? What drove you there and what keeps you going?

Eric: It's been about two years now that I've been leading a nomad like lifestyle. My current partner and I left Seattle, purchased a van and started living out of it. For many years before that, I was almost stuck in my routine. I was managing a body piercing shop working 4 or 5 days a week with no end in sight and in a relationship that I wasn't enjoying. I was longing for the traveling I was used to while growing up. I was ready to disconnect from the city life. As soon as the opportunity presented itself I took it. It's been the best decision I've ever made.

Every day I wake up in a new environment where the only thing that is the same is myself. It's helped me learn a lot about who I am.

Anya: Where will you be heading next?

Eric: It's been almost five months that I've been on the big island of Hawaii. The changes to the way I live, the things I've learned and seen have been extremely valuable experiences. My time here has almost run its course, though. Thoughts of South American Summer's have been filling my mind. But if there's one thing I've been taught the most here - not to plan too far ahead. Things can change in a matter of moments; it's best just to go with the flow

Eric Wolff has a youtube chanel where he frequently posts his "Movements of the Day"