Matt has been one of my favourite athletes to watch on Instagram the last 6 months, because of his strong movement and unique ideas. Recently he visited us in Frankfurt, which resulted in awesome sessions a rooftop mission and also an opportunity to do an interview for you guys. Here's our chat after a jam on a rainy day.
Let's do the basics. Who are you?
I'm Matt McCreary, 25 years old from Ireland and I've been doing Parkour for 9 years.
How would you describe your style of Parkour, if you couldn't show a video?
I just fall all over the place, uuuhm.... flop around and do a bunch of non-sense... and roundoffs.
I've noticed that you've been playing with roundoffs a lot. When and how did that start?
I had one idea of a trick, which had me doing a roundoff to a wall and then bounce back into a diveroll. From there I had a billion ideas in my head and slowly I'm trying to execute them. And I love roundoffs, I was always able to do one actually.
It's a move you rarely see used creatively in Parkour, so there must be a lot of potential.
Yeah, it's a powerful move... and it's a funky move! I like the feeling of it. I'm not explosively powerful, so the roundoff helps me with it's momentum.
So you love roundoffs, but what moves do you hate?
I...uuuhm...hate the Didi-Roll. *laughs*
It's over-used. It's only nice when Didi does it *laughs*. It's a nice connection movement when you look at it on it's own, but it's become a trend and now it's done. I think there are a lot more transitions you can create, if you put the time in.
I know what you mean. It's easy to be lazy and not come up with an original transition for your run and then fall back on moves that work anywhere. One of the reasons why I love your movement is how you always come up with moves that aren't an obvious choice for the location. Do you do that consciously? And do ideas come to your mind, but you decide not to do them, because they are too obvious?
Maybe three years ago I was getting bored of how I was moving. Coming from Northern Ireland the style of training is very plyometric, straightforward, more UK style, going from A to B, powerful movement. It became a bit boring to me. You show up to a spot and you already know there's a plyo, a dive kong and a running jump, you know? I wasn't excited anymore.
I thought to myself "okay let's take a step back and start from the bottom again and see something different I can do." Something that keeps me engaged and inspired. I try and change my movement constantly to stay enthusiastic.
You said this change in style happened three years ago. How long had you been training before then?
About 6 years, so I've been doing Parkour for almost 10 years now.
People who start Parkour now are represented with this spectrum of movement. One extreme is the straightforward "oldschool" style and on the other end you have a spinny dance-style Parkour. Our generation started with the oldschool moves and eventually transitioned to more playful runs. How important do you think it is to have a base in the fundamental Parkour moves or can you skip them?
In my opinion it's crucial. Just do build awareness for your body and to be able to move in any direction.
If I'm a beginner and my goal is to move like Matt McCreary. How should I train to get where you are?
I would tell you "Yeah, that's a very nice idea, but chances are you're not going to move in a similar way to me or anybody else you look up to". Realistically it's not going to happen, because you have a different body and you draw inspiration from other sources. It's more useful to focus on what you are naturally attracted to, I think.
So would you say copying somebody else is useful or should I purely focus on what movement naturally comes to me?
Copying is key also. You have to copy to then see what tickles your pickle *laughs*
How do I know when something tickles my pickle? Can you describe the feeling?
It's a nice sensation, it just feels right. For example, when I was growing up Daniel Ilabaca inspired me. You know, I wanted to move like Danny and this and that. Because of that every time I went to a spot and I ended up underwhelmed, because I didn't come away with something that looked like Danny. Only when I started moving without expectations of how I wanted a movement to look was when things changed. I became able to move more creatively, runs would piece together more smoothly and everything lead to my natural way of moving. Does that make sense?
Totally! I've been thinking about something Emily's Yoga instructor said during one of her classes. She said "while stretching you might look around and see somebody who is much more ahead of, but don't be envious. They are not getting anything that you aren't getting." And I think that's very true, because both persons experience in the moment is the same. Each one is at the limit of their stretch and is feeling the same discomfort. I try to remind myself that I should enjoy the abilities I have now, even though I'm still haven't reached all of my potential.
Yeah, because if you don't take time to enjoy what you can do that can lead into the wrong direction. You get into a rut, maybe un-inspired, then you train less,... it's just not good. It's super difficult to have no expectations and just go with the flow, but it's a very healthy skill to practice.
Lately you've been posting a lot of Parkour in nature, is there a story behind that?
It happened during quarantine and while I was living in the city of Porto in Portugal. The city started to get weird with people isolating and wearing masks everywhere. I had a friend living in the countryside and I thought that's a much better place to spend a three month quarantine. The only spots around where shitty village spots on private property, so instead I ventured into the woods. It provided me soft ground padded with leaves and trees. Stuff to experiment and throw myself around without getting hurt. It was peaceful and inspired me to move differently.
I'm always adapting my training to my mood. What attracts me? Oh, I want to just do little things and flow around. Another month I want to be powerful and I just do plyos upstairs all the time. My focus could also be on creating new movements. I'm always searching for the next thing to inspire me and when I find it I follow that intuition.
Do you have some sessions that leave you unsatisfied?
Yeah, it happens. It's normal. Maybe I feel happy that I moved, which is always positive, but the outcome wasn't what I expected. But you go out the next day.
Do you train a lot by yourself or with others?
I try to mix it up. I love sessions by myself, because I will end up doing random stupid shit. The creation happens when I'm on my own, because I can take my time in one place with no rush. I can play about with something and let a move develop.
You've been telling me about working at the circus, surely you are around people with many backgrounds. How much do you look across disciplines for movement. inspiration?
I would recommend exploring different skills. For example music, art, drawing, graffiti,.... anything that engages you creatively can translate over into your Parkour. Especially music I feel. The creation process of playing an instrument and putting a song together is absurdly similar to piecing together a line or coming up with movement. I think it's important to not just focus on one thing, because it will become boring. You need different inputs, different people from different backgrounds and experiences creating other things.
I totally agree that a great Parkour line has a certain rhythm. It's nice to finish a playful line with a big trick for example.
Well, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Hello Mother,... I love you. Shoutout Barbara.