Learning mathematics and learning parkour seem to have a lot in common. Both can be done on varying levels, but to progress in either one needs to overlearn and build basic skills so that these skills are automatic and accurate. Practitioners of both claim that anyone can do them, although to the beginner each of the disciplines looks daunting, if not impossible, to do at any more than a rudimentary level. Although for mathematics this is more of a byproduct, both of these disciplines also require practitioners to overcome and manage their fears.

Now, parkour is something that naturally fascinates young people. The practice of mathematics, at some level, is a mental analogue of parkour. Try as I might, I have not been able to find any videos or blogposts that discuss this analogy, or how one might use or combine the teaching of one of these things with the other in order to develop a healthy "growth mindset".

My question is: What are some resources for this?

Here and there I have found some hoaky things online trying to connect parkour to math in the most unsatisfying way (to me)...namely to try to use math or physics to study parkour movements. This is not what I am looking for, here. I am looking for something that discusses the similarities of how mathematicians approach problem solving and how traceurs do...I'm talking about habits.

I should address what might seem to be a massive oversight or mistake embedded in this question: being stuck certainly doesn't seem to fit into the idea of being able to fluidly overcome obstacles...and we know being stuck is very important to learning and doing mathematics. This said, the similarity I propose here is based on the (realistic, I think) assumption that mathematicians do not view being stuck as a condition of inactivity, and this is precisely the point I'd like the analogy to make for students. A stuck mathematician doesn't generally look stuck, in the traditional sense.

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    $\begingroup$ Permit me to add the Wikipedia link, which more directly answers the question, "What is Parkour?" $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2021 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ You might also enjoy the analogy of mountain climbing, and there are a number of essays on that. One is at the beginning of The Art and Craft of Problem Solving, by Paul Zeitz. I think it would work very similarly. $\endgroup$
    – Sue VanHattum
    Apr 9, 2021 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ I use a Brazilian jiujitsu analogy sometimes, in a similar way. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2021 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ Is parkour somehow special when compared to any other difficult skill one might want to learn? $\endgroup$
    – Tommi
    Apr 10, 2021 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ @JonBannon That can be said of any discipline when you want to go beyond a certain level. $\endgroup$ Apr 10, 2021 at 14:59


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