A couple of weeks ago I met up with Blane and Bruno for a quick training session over in Elephant and Castle, and to show them a spot that I'd recently discovered in the area. When we arrived, there was a slight that caught our collective eye: Set on a slight hill, there was a set of trees that had been severed into plinths standing around 5 to 6 feet tall, all surrounded by an arrangement of small boulders. The interesting feature of the trees was the fact that none had been cut cleanly, each instead having a jagged or sloped summit, and each having a rugged little face hewn into the bark... and most of all because they were separated by a distance just far enough to comfortably jump between.

 

Obviously the moment that Blane saw them he got a little sparkle in his eye, which of course meant that he was going to make this little copse of precisions his own, which by association also meant that so were Bruno and I (whether we'd planned to or not). He and Bruno climbed up to take a look at the landings, whilst I got into position to capture a few images. Even from the ground it looked like a bizzare set of leaps to make, but after a few jokes and a little focus, they were both ready to make the jumps their own.

 

Now, when a practitioner gets into position to make their jump, its moments like these that I love. You get to see exactly how the different people prepare themselves for a jump: I won't reveal my observations from that day, but I notice that everyone seems to have their own little way of doing things: Some guys have a countdown. Some a simple pivot or stamp of their feet. Others say a little something to themselves in order to prepare. A few make subtle little gestures with their hands or take a few sharp breaths. Some that don't seem to be doing anything either fully internalise the process, or make their preparations before they even get into position. Needless to say that Blane and Bruno in their own ways got ready to make their jumps, set themselves in position, then in their own timing made the precisions.

 

Blane I have to say never ceases to amaze me. Some of the landings on those trees were a little unorthodox, but after a few solid (and quiet) single landings, he then got down and walking back to the first tree in the series, jumped back up on top of it then proceeded to make each jump in sequence, landing damn near perfectly on each along the course... If Mario or Luigi were to pick a successor for their next platform game, Blane'd make the short-list I'm sure.

 

After they'd repeated their jumps a few times to their own satisfaction and then jumped back down to earth, it was pretty apparent that my time as photographer was done and I was, how shall I say, expected to make a jump or two myself. So up I climbed, and took a look... the moment I did I instantly had an internal conflict between the Traceur in me that could see and knew what needed to be done to make the landing, and the creative in me that could see this unwinding like a scene from Saw or Final Destination. It was ridiculous how sharp the edge of the tree looked from where I was standing, but at the same time I knew that it was actually no worse than making a thin rail precision. So, it was my turn to prepare: For the most part its a simple process for me when I need to break a jump (and please don't mistake my use of the word "simple" to mean "easy" as that ouldn't be true, and it wouldn't truly be broken jump at all). First of all, I let the torrent of thoughts that flow through my mind subside so that I have room to focus. Once I have the calm, I choose a moment that I'm going to jump. Then... I jump. The thing that I find funny about it is that even though its the same process, depending on the situation it can take vastly different amount of time to complete it, although I've notived over the years the time is much more under my control. It took a while on this day as I was in such a jovial mood, so it was more a question of turning the enthusiasm down just a notch before anything, then going through the steps before takeoff and landing.