How To Conquer Fear With Marcio Filipe

Here at Parkour Entrepreneur we love to showcase athletes and entrepreneurs that are paving the way for future generations of our sport. The mindset and force of will that goes into making the decision to believe in yourself and your abilities is among the many wonders of the natural world. In this article we spoke with Marcio Filipe about how he approaches and conquers fear within 6 challenges that pushed him far past his limits. He has been training for about 11 years and has trained almost every day for the past 3 years. We hope that his words inspire you to think before you leap, but then leap with purpose.

Marcio: “This one was a personal goal that I set for myself long ago. In 2011, about 3 years into my training, I hit the precision in that exact same spot. Back then I thought the Kong Pre was simply impossible due to the distance and the drop (around 2m down). But I set for myself that one day I would hit that Kong Pre. Last year I felt prepared but really scared because I was used to doing downward Kong Pres but not really as far as this one, so I didn’t exactly know how much power I had to put in to not overshoot or not reach it.

I went there really warmed up and prepared to do it, but once I arrived I knew it would still be a long process in my head to overcome the fear of doing it. So I started preparing my mind for how much power I had to put in, what to do in case I overshoot a little bit more than I should or if I put too little power as well. After around 20 mins I finally felt prepared and hit it for the first time. I went a little bit more forward but I was okay, I was calm and controlled in the air so I felt good once I landed. After the first attempt I hit it 5 more times until I got it in a run as clean as I could get it, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be 100% happy until I stuck it. At the same time I knew I wasn’t fully prepared for that.

Around March of this year, I went there with the intention of only leaving once I got the stick. I went for the first one after a year and I noticed myself feeling much stronger, physically but mainly mentally, so I knew that it was the right day to stick it! Every time I tried I put less and less power, and after around 5 more attempts I went and in the air I felt the perfect body position for the stick, and I finally got it done! It took me around 6 years to make my “dream” come true, and 1 year after I leveled up in a way that I wouldn’t have even thought possible 7 years ago!”

Marcio: “This one was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my whole life. This Kong Pre wasn’t to a thin surface to land on or push from, it wasn’t even that big, but really technical and with a drop that meant certain death if I wasn’t fully confident. The idea of this challenge started 3 years ago when I was filming for a video called “This Is My Hometown” where I wanted to push myself at the spots where I grew up and to see how much my level increased after 7 years of training.

When we went there so I could break it down, it wasn’t that hard mentally I just had to stay relaxed in my head and aware that the drop was there in the middle. But I wasn’t going to land there, I was going to land on the wall on the other side. I knew I had the preparation and technique to do that, so I didn’t hesitate at all when I hit it that day. But all that changed when I went back there this year for a stick. I knew that it was dangerous and if something went wrong I could face death. With this said I don’t want people to think that I’m reckless or that parkour is about doing the craziest shit. It’s just that for me it was something that I wanted to accomplish and put a whole decade of training and preparation into this single moment that was sticking this Kong Pre.

That day I came back to get the stick, I started with going forward (same as 2015) but less and less so I could feel how much was the exact power to stick on that wall. Around the 15th try it started to rain a little, so I had to leave it for another day. I got really sad because I wanted to get it really badly and every time that I set a goal for myself I always get stuck in my head until I make it. Sometimes this isn’t good because I know that we shouldn’t rush something scary like this, what has to happen will happen sooner or later.

After 2 days the sun came out and I went back there to try and get it done this time. Same process as 2 days before, and there were a few attempts that I was really close to getting it but my chest was too forward so I couldn’t stick it. I knew I had to put my chest further back in the air but it was so scary every time I attempted it because if I undershot too much I could bounce to my death. When I was almost ready to give up, I just thought to myself, “put just a little less power on it, you’re going forward if you just give it less Kong you’re not going to bounce back you’re probably going to stick, and if in the air you don’t feel that you’re going to reach it, just crane and maybe stop doing it”.

With this mindset I went for my last attempt and in the air I felt that heartbeat that meant I had the right amount of power for the stick and I actually did. I can’t even describe how I felt once I got it after so many attempts, the sensation of feeling the balls of my feet on the curve of that wall, the death drop behind me. I was in total control and not scared at all after that. One of my most mental jumps and the one that gave me more happiness because of how well I controlled that fear and controlled it with perfection.”

Marcio: “This Side Pre was totally unexpected for me. I’ve only hit a Side Pre once before and it was a year before this one, that was from a table to a bench with a little drop forward, but with almost no drop backwards and only about 7 feet. This day we passed this spot and someone asked me, “What about this side pre, would be a nice one.” I started looking at it as a joke, because even my friend wasn’t that serious about that since he knows I barely do flips, much less a Side Pre like this. I started preparing it on a wall a little bit behind to the floor, same step up, same height between walls so I did some to the floor there before I attempted the real challenge.

I did around 7 sides and every one of them I landed where I should, but once I imagined myself doing it from that square and land on the other side of the wall of that garage I was totally scared, mainly because I wasn’t that used to spot side pres since the last one before that was a year ago. I attempted some more on the floor and while I was doing it, I was really focused and not just throwing myself because I knew it was floor so I wouldn’t get hurt. While I was trying I thought to myself, “I’ve been training for so many years, I know that my unconscious will activate in case I need to save myself, because I’m prepared for this.” After I set myself with this mindset I went to the wall and felt ready.

While I was going back for it, I started getting thoughts that i could bail, but I accepted those thoughts instead of just going because I was in the mood. I relaxed and imagined myself in the air and landing it the right way. After that I gave my first step torward the wall and knew that I was going with full commitment. I stepped to the wall, did the side and while I was opening spotted the wall and landed almost to a stick. I was so happy that I felt controlled in the air and not just lucky. I went back and did it once more so I could be sure that I knew what I was doing. Because, once is never right? (Hahaha)”

Marcio: “Another Side Pre that was a lot scarier then it looks on video and a huge mental barrier for me to break. This one came as an idea while I was at home thinking on the previous Side Pre I had done and that I wanted to start doing them more and pushing myself more in that aspect of my training. I thought about this spot because it was one of my first spots I ever trained since it’s so close to my home and it’s where I broke most of my mental fears when I was a kid starting to train. The next day I went out with the intention of at least looking at it and really thinking if I could get it or not.

Before going there I went to another spot nearby that I knew had the perfect place to practice sides over a wall with height on the other side really similar to the place that I wanted to do it. I was practicing with the same amount of run up and steps I had at the other spot and the wall was a little bit higher there, I tested with my hand on the wall, like a Sideflip with one had spotting the wall mid air. It was grass on the other side, so I put some wood and sticks there so I could spot them in the air. First ones were more like warm ups, but after I started really making the distance, I got around 5 in a row without landing my heels or my toes on the sticks so I did a few more and went to the spot.

Once I arrived I freaked out because of the big drop in the middle and the fact that I had to land on a wall where not getting it meant some serious consequences. But I relaxed a little and imagined myself once again running, pushing and spotting the wall in the air. Well, thinking was easy but breaking the fear was definitely not. Luckily in the same spot there’s a place with the same height but just without a wall on the other side, only concrete. I thought that I should do it there if I wasn’t yet confident with myself and tried 3 times. In those 3 attempts I only missed one, and that started messing with my head, but I knew it was 1 out of 10, and that of course it could happen on the wall and I could get really bad injured, but at the same time I knew I wasn’t taking it as serious as I would to the real place because there’s no wall to spot mid air. I went back there, relaxed and started checking everything, the steps, the wall, the distance and height between each one of them, until I felt that “click” that made me go for it.

I went back, looked at the wall and ran with the exact same power I was doing in my preparations to the grass and to the concrete. I spotted the wall mid air, landed perfectly and felt freaking happy with it, BUT, I wasn’t totally happy as I knew I could level myself up and get a Side out once I landed on the wall. So I went back up, did another one and I threw a side after landing it, which I landed on my bum. I knew I wasn’t going to get hurt on the second since it was grass and that the first one was the one that I had to be really focus and pay all my maximum attention. I got back up and went for a third time and I spotted the wall in the air a little bit sooner, pointed my feet there, landed and pulled out an other Sideflip, which this time I landed properly. After this I finished my training for the day because I could feel my heart jumping out of my throat and knew that I had to relax from all the happiness and adrenaline I was feeling after achieving my goal.”

Marcio: “Well, this one I think everyone already knows about. One of the most iconic jumps at Imax, which is one of the most iconic spots in the world of parkour. First time I’ve seen anyone accomplish this Kong Pre was Kie Willis, who executed it so perfectly and in a time when almost no one would even think it was possible. In September 2015 I went to London and it rained for the whole week I was there, but of course I had to visit Imax because it’s like that obligatory place to go once in London. So like a tourist, I went to look at that Kong Pre. I looked at it and it only took me 3 seconds until I moved out from there and thought, “This looks impossible, no way I would ever do it in my life.” But, without really thinking of it, that Kong got in my head and with the pass of time started to become a goal I had if I ever came back to London.

In June of 2017 I returned to London to watch Storror’s Roof Culture Asia because I knew I couldn’t miss the premiere. I went for the weekend and when I got the bus to the city, I got out near Imax, and went there to look at the Kong, this time with more mental experience and control. I looked at it and it it still looked way too scary, so I just chilled myself out and started moving in the spot with the locals but always with that Kong in my head calling for me. After around a 2 hour session we went to see the movie, and after we were heading home and I got so hyped and inspired by their film and how much they accomplished through passion and what they said. That drove my mind to the Kong Pre once again, so I got more serious about it and decided to come back there the next morning. Next day I woke up, sore as hell from sleeping on the floor and with only about 4 or 5 hours of sleep, we went to Imax. I looked at the Kong and I knew I was going to make it that day. Didn’t know how much time it would take me, but I knew in my head I had decided to do it so I started warming up and went to check it.

The difference on that wall was that it’s slightly higher than the ones I’m used to, which makes all the difference on downward Kongs, because it would push me higher than I want to go. So I had to pay attention to that and think on a different technique for it. Went to the smaller Kong Pre there and did it a few times diagonal so I could get more distance and get used to that wall. Went back up, calmed my mind and imagined myself doing it. In that exact moment nothing else was happening around me, it was just that moment between me and the wall. While I was checking it again I started feeling myself more and more prepared until I felt that the time had finally come.

I went back, relaxed once again, because doing it with fear or with second thoughts would just make everything worse and take me out of controlling myself. I was a little hesitant at first but I knew it was just me being careful. I knew that once I took my first step toward the wall I would do it, so when I unlock that and started running, I went fully confident and pushed a little bit too much on the wall which made me do what I didn’t wanted to that was going high, so I overshot a little and hit my heel on the corner of the wall, which is slanted forward so my heel hit straight on the sharp part. I felt pain but because I was warm it wasn’t that bad, and went back there and hit it a second time way cleaner since I knew what I did wrong on the first one. My heel got worse and after I couldn’t train anymore that day. But I returned home with an amazing feeling of hitting a legendary Kong and with amazing memories of one of the best films I’ve seen in my life, made by people that started from scratch that I’ve looked up to since I started parkour.”

Marcio: “The story behind why this one was scary for me was because I only started doing Double Kongs around 2 years ago, about 7-8 years after I started training, which I should have been doing since the beginning. This year I made a 2 week road trip around my country (Portugal) and one of the stops was Sintra due to all the amazing spots there and the community that we knew from there as well. We stayed for 2 days, and on our second day one of the locals brought us to this spot right outside of the train station, and we had a really good session there. Almost at the end I did a Kong Pre on this exact same spot, and then I thought that maybe I could Double Kong it, which was something I wasn’t that used since this one was quite big and had a drop in between the walls with a wall straight in front of me after the landing.

I started thinking about it and did a comparison with one I hit last year, which was the biggest one I had done until that day, and that was almost the same distance and a little bit downwards as well, the only difference was the walls that were thinner compared to that one I did before. I knew it wasn’t that different, but it was quite sketchy to work on. Thinking of pushing a distance that I’ve never done before, knowing that I couldn’t attempt without really committing to it and thinking that my hands could slip or not reach the wall since I didn’t know my full power with doubles. I started to build the confidence by pushing a Kong on the first wall but on the place with less drop in the middle, and then tried to reach the second wall with my hands but by landing with my hands slightly before my feet land on the ground.

So I did that a few times until I felt that the distance wasn’t a problem anymore, but the air form and the small landing place instead. I thought about the air form and that was easier to tick off my head because the one I did the year before was the same height between walls so I already knew how I should go in the air, and it was only about the landing spot now. I thought about reaching the second wall with as little power as I could, so I could have time to put myself up in the air and land before I hit the wall. After I broke all the barriers in my head I went for it and got it exactly as I planned to do it.

In that moment I realized how much control and self knowledge that I’ve acquired with all these years of practice, which is something so fascinating if you really think about it. After that, I didn’t attempt a second one because I felt impact on my still recovering left from 2 months of injury. I didn’t feel the need to do it again just to prove to myself I could. I knew that if i was fully recovered and if I needed I could do it again without any problem like I did the first one, just by analyzing my movement and knowing my body capabilities due to all the training I’ve put myself through all these years.”

Thanks so much for reading! We hope you enjoyed delving into how to break down fear with Marcio Filipe as much as we did. Such a remarkable journey each athlete embarks on as they decide the challenges that will define their movement for themselves and the generations they will inspire. If you’d like to see more content like this let us know who we should reach out to next and what type of questions you’d like us to ask them. As always we appreciate you sharing and commenting on our content to let us know how we can best serve and inspire our community and grow the Parkour Economy.

*This article has been edited for grammar, length and language barriers.

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