The Unconventional Wisdom of Callum Powell
I revisit some of the funniest and most insightful Callum Tips, and discuss the wisdom of Storror athlete Callum Powell. Simple!
Storror recently became the first parkour channel to cross the million YouTube subscribers milestone. With that amazing achievement in mind, I felt like it would be good to look at something at least loosely Storror related. Enter the unconventional parkour wisdom of Storror athlete Callum Powell! Back in early 2017 he started his Callum Tips series of instagram captions - more than 250 tips later, Callum’s instagram captions have somehow come to be amongst the most consistent and funny pieces of parkour content going.
From witty and subversive social commentary, to the downright random and absurd. Each tip gives us a small window into the hilarious mind of one of the most powerful parkour athletes on the planet today! I’m going to go through some of my favourites and share my thoughts on them. Oh and for the roughly 0.3 people who don’t know who Callum Powell is, he’s one of the old school tracuers based in Brighton, UK who’s been training for something like 12 years now, and as I mentioned is a member of Storror. You'll often find him covered in sweat at all the big European parkour gatherings.
Kicking things of with a random collection of what I consider to be some of his funniest tips;
I wonder how many people have secretly done this one at an event?
“Callum Tips no.138 - When training with friends, pretend to be really busy and invested in your own challenge so your friends are less likely to ask you to film their challenges.”
Addressing something we’ve all seen happening here:
Callum Tips no.121 - Guys, If you see a girl training and working on something independently, force your presence upon her and give her advice, a spot or just try to teach her something she didn't have any intention of learning. Sharing is caring and females need a strapping warrior to help them with their Parkour. Especially overly invasive spotting.
Feel the burnnnnn….
Callum Tips no.158 - Parkour not only helps you overcome obstacles physically but also obstacles in life too. That's why most Parkour athletes are broke I guess
This is actually so true!
Callum Tips no.40 - Going to university was the best decision I made. The spots are great.
This one made me laugh out loud!
Callum Tips no.153 - Parkour is a free sport. You can practically train it anywhere. Except from on private property, council property, public property, playgrounds, skateparks, workout gyms, Joshua Tree, your mum's couch etc
‘Clutching at straws’ hahaha!
Callum Tips no.169 - Parkour dictionary vol:2 - Creativity /ˌkriːeɪˈtɪvɪti/ [noun] To do normal flips but at some point tapping the obstacle with your hand or foot or grabbing your appendages followed by scrambling around on the ground. "My boy got this lit, creative combo down today. He created a new move called the beagle kicker." Synonymous: bitch moves, AOM runs, dancing, glitching out, clutching at straws, flow, super unique style
We’ve all seen this guy one once or twice!
Vortex Omnivium Tips no.192 - Parkour dictionary vol:4 - Professional /prəˈfɛʃ(ə)n(ə)l/ [noun] A person who says they are a professional freerunner in their Instagram bio because they got a free shirt once. "Yeah I'm a professional freerunner. Anyway can I take your order?" Synonyms: sometimes do photo shoots for free, helped my friend with his college media project, mum says I'm good, a company sent me some insect protein bars in exchange for insta post, work at Tesco.
I’m actually guilty of this one myself haha!
Callum Tips no.151 - If you're terribly untalented at Parkour, hang around and film people who are talented and upload them on your Instagram etc and reap the rewards.
This has been going on since the dawn of time...
Callum Tips no.136 - When you're at a jam and doing your biggest stuff make sure to look really disappointed at how you did it so people assume that you're better.
A parkour twist on the schoolyard classic:
Callum Tips no.185 - The age old rule - If your feet touch the ground on an arm jump, it doesn't count. But, on the scale of atoms, material objects never actually touch each other because the field of electrons surrounding atoms repel each other. So you don't actually touch the ground because nothing ever touches anything.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Callum is a bit cynical of some of the aspects of the current parkour culture. He often uses sarcastic humour to rant about those aspects. He often calls out some of those little things we’ve all noticed before, but have maybe never put into words. Perhaps they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but as a fellow Brit, I find them hilarious!
My favourite Callums Tips are by far the serious ones though. Yes every once in a while Callum will catch us all off guard with a straight-up gem of wisdom, forged by over a decade of hard training.
Callum Tips no.100 - Fuck hucking shit becoming a part of Parkour culture. People launching themselves and hoping is not an admirable thing as we, differing from other sports that use wheels to propel themselves and land on to continue momentum, will not function if we're bolted together with metal or have torn meniscus, ACL, achilles etc. There's nothing noble about that fake courage. Those who are rushing their capabilities and throwing themselves at heinous, literal leaps of faith without any linear progress leading up should not be viewed as heroes as they're giving others inspiration and permission to do the same, adding to the huck culture and essentially what I see as a big dilution of the talent in the sport further down the line. I don't wanna tell anyone how to train but I don't fancy seeing Parkour practice turn into a mad sprint of people burning out after 3 years of intense stunts most of which you grit your teeth and plough on through the latest ankle injury while trying to one up the next big thing, your more experienced friend or idol. Rather than a marathon where you earn your achievements through grounded judgement on previous experience and smart training. And I don't necessarily mean conditioning and all that. I mean looking at a challenge and stepping back and saying "That would be sick. It's not something I think I could do today but I'll make it a goal to work towards." This is my final Callum Tip
Luckily that wasn’t his final Callum Tip. You can feel the passion in that statement - and I think it says a lot about who he is as a traceur. I’ve always seen Callum as one of the more vocal, or at least higher profile advocates for this kind of ethos behind training. I think he still looks up to people like Blane, and the old guard from the early days of UK parkour who had that 'mindful warrior' kind of outlook. It’s not so trendy now of course, as the majority of people training won't know anything about that era.
But I think the important observation Callum makes here is that unlike skateboarding or inline skating, we don’t have wheels to absorb kinetic energy. I think that alone makes ‘hucking it’ way less tenable for parkour in the long term. We simply can’t afford to emulate the mentality of other niche, or ‘extreme’ sports because of the much higher stresses it puts on our bodies. I think it’s an important insight!
Callum Tips no.114 - Half committing at the point of take off is in most cases worse than committing fully and just taking a bounce off or whatever. But the more dangerous thing is getting into a habit of not having full trust and clarity as you commit while running up etc. When you tell yourself this is the one before running up you'd better give it a 100% attempt. Otherwise this habit of mistrust gets worse and makes going for things, for example at height, all the more sketchy.
Again, an important insight here! Most realise this very early on in their journey; you realise how much better situations tend to be overall when you commit 100% to the jump. But it’s also very easy to develop a sketchy habit of half-committing, which will hold you back massively.
I think this is because we’re deeply used to life on the ground for so many years before we start parkour training. It’s not easy to develop the new neural pathways that allow you to ignore all those primal signals your brain is screaming at you when you go full sprint towards a wall. Accidently getting into this half-committing habit is something that can inadvertently happen in this process, if you let the fears get to you for too long yet continue to train without addressing them.
Everyone loves to say that practice makes perfect, but it’s not that simple unfortunately. It’s more a case of ‘practice makes permanent’, that’s why it's so important to be smart about your training, and practice in a conscious and mindful way.
Callum Tips no.144 - Create a list of goals. Whether jumps, strength things, flips, flexibility etc, create a list of realistic short term and long term goals and where necessary add some notes underneath of things you're going to work on for you to be able to achieve them and tick them off your list. Motivation is bullshit and for most a transient, extrinsic thing. Stop looking for motivation and get some direction, good habits and above all discipline.
This is something I’ve been coming to terms with myself recently; that motivation ultimately won’t get you half as far as hard work. Lots of hard work. Having motivation is wonderful when it’s around, work stops feeling like work and the hours you pound into your craft of choice just evaporate. But when it’s gone, what are you going to do? A solid work ethic is something like the only insurance policy against the fundamentally whimsical nature of motivation.
Callum Tips no.235 - The best way to truly find yourself is to emulate other people.
I don’t know if this one is sarcastic humour, or one of the best insites he’s ever put out! The way I see it, is the only way to find out who you are is to initially explore paths that have already been laid out by others.
It’s a bit like everyone starts from the same point in a centre of a circle, and leaves a path of their journey outwards. The first people; the pioneers - any direction they take is brand new, they have no choice but to innovate. But as more and more people start their journeys from the centre of the circle, the less untrodden paths there are. Any direction you go from around the centre has already been tried, its only at far distances from the center that unexplored territory remains.
I think that’s why the best way to find your path is to to follow the path of others initially, take the known routes into the depths of the art, and then after making rapid progress, there will be more space to branch out from the known routes, and carve your own path.
In that sense, it's absolutely fine to start out your journey in parkour by emulating other peoples styles. I’m pretty sure that’s how innovation happens in every domain known to man. Someone innovates, others copy and push it forward until a new direction is found. Rinse and repeat.
So those were some of my favourite Callum Tips, I love them and hope Callum continues dropping his gems of wisdom for many years to come! I do have another favourite one which was way too long to quote in this article, but you can check it out here - he basically makes this big analogy between training and XP based RPG video games. It’s great!
hjhffeqnxl - November 12 2020
Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?
Landon Moyer - November 19 2019
Update in November 2019: were on Callum tip 472.
Sheypu Lenthang Khongsai - April 14 2018
I wonder why!
Well it was amazing watching when Valtteri got into Farang. I guess I/We would also like to see how Pasha, Dom and Zen got into Farang. Also, is Shasha in the team? And Where is Shawn Wood????
Martin - April 11 2018
Amazing post guys, thanks Callum for the wonderful and funny insight!
Ricardo Navarro - April 11 2018
Me sorprende que haya personas como Callum que se han tomado el parkour tan enserio, han hecho del parkour su vida. Desde que empece a ver a Callum note esa pequeña diferencia esa luz que lo distingue y lo hace sobresalir de la demas gente de la comunidad. Callum en mi opinión a interiorizado de manera muy natural al parkour, lo ha hecho suyo, es por esto que rompe todas esas barreras físicas-psicológicas que generalmente vienen intrínsecas en un salto.
Me quedo con los consejos sobre la lista de objetivos , y sobre todo con el de actuar siempre de manera consiente, ser consiente de lo que pasa en el tiempo que dura un salto, del por que lo hacemos y ser consciente de la infinidad de emociones que nos provoca.
Mi respeto y reconocimiento para Callum, por ser lo que hoy en día es, por ser un ejemplo para mi y para muchos, y una felicitación por todos lo logros que ha obtenido a lo largo de su trayecto en esto y por ser siempre un Guerrero Consiente.