Author Topic: The Expansion of Parkour  (Read 2121 times)

Offline Gren the Wicked

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The Expansion of Parkour
« on: January 04, 2009, 11:40:21 PM »
Understand that this opinion comes from an amateur, not an expert. This post is merely to state an observation of mine; I'm sure other more experienced traceurs have already pointed this out many times in their own words.

It's no secret that Parkour is expanding fast; every movement seen in public or on the internet raises either awareness and involvement in some small way. The discipline is becoming massively exposed; it's also being interpreted differently than it's being portrayed. The movements being performed are trained rigorously with the goal of burning out every awkward impurity until only a pure, perfect technique remains - it's for this reason that Parkour is often compared to martial arts. Just the first act of little kids after watching a fast-paced martial arts flick is to jump up and start play fighting, Parkour exposure unwittingly inspires imitation.

The other week, I was with the local group that meets up every two weeks at a local university campus to train. One of the 'senior members' of the group picked a spot for a big jump over the top of a small tree, dropping almost a full story, landing on concrete and rolling. It was pretty impressive; the kind of jump that anyone could attempt but few could survive. The rest of us in the group thought to ourselves, "Someday." and moved on. A group of early high-school age skaters had been quietly observing from a short distance away. Once we had picked our next spot to mess around on, we looked back, and to our dismay, the entire lot of skaters had filed up onto the ledge from where our experienced traceur had made his big jump. One of them, probably the ring leader, was taking a few steps back, scuffing the ground with his feet, about to attempt a feat which did not exist to him up until 45 seconds earlier.

The guy who performed the jump; a beefy reverse characature of Disney's Tarzan, bellowed at them in his surfer-esque voice, "Dudes, no! Copying leads to injuries! Baby steps, dudes. Baby steps." Musashi Miyamoto couldn't have said it better himself. His warning put that particular fire out - but could see the look of rebellion come across their faces at his rebuke, and wondered if they would control themselves after we were out of their hair.

David Belle himself just elaborated on the dangers of parallel arts. I think skateboarding is a prime model for what will happen if the 'sport' aspect of Parkour out-expands the philosophy. Now, skateboarding isn't parallel with Parkour, it's really more perpendicular, intersecting only at the junction of "alluring and potentially dangerous urban sport."

But look at the state of skateboarding as it is currently - companies ironically selling kids their own brands of counter-culture, no proper training what-so-ever, non-existent safety precautions; idolized representatives of the sport are in some cases braggards and jackasses, and in other cases, thugs. A corporate-sponsored youth rebellion. The "No Skateboarding" sign is probably one of the most common signs you'll ever see posted on a storefront window, next to "No Loitering" and "Open". It's not just because people don't want to deal with the skateboards themselves or the liability of injury; it's also because they don't want to deal with the vehicles operators. Now I'm not trying to say that skaters are a bunch of vagrant scumbags or anything like that; but take a moment and look up "skater fight" on Youtube, see how many results you get - appreciate the dignity and class the sport has attained. You'll probably see everything from skaters fighting each other, skaters fighting security guards, skaters fighting passersby, skaters fighting someones dog; you name it, a skater somewhere has probably traded blows with it. Has it caused the collapse and destruction of society or their sport? No, of course not. Does that make it an acceptable outcome for Parkours future? I'd prefer not.

One TV news report asked, "Will Parkour become the next skateboarding, or will it fade quickly into obscurity?" I certainly hope those aren't the only two options.

However, another TV news report said it best, I believe. "With more exposure every day, and corporate sponsorships looming on the horizon, Parkour's days as a niche sport or curiosity are numbered."

This is probably the case, and I think we all know it. The only question that remains is does it expand beyond anyones control and become not a sport, not a discipline; but a wreckless urban phenomenon which clashes with authority at every turn and draws the kind of attention that none of us want.

The worst part is that I'm pretty sure that this transformation will occur on it's own; not out of anyones bad or polluted intentions. The representatives of the practice have been the best of any discipline or sport ever, in my own opinion. They've probably taught every one of us here important shit, from far away - to keep our intentions clean and our egos under control. To be ambassadors for Parkour, rather than agitators to the public.  To improve our bodies through training rather than destroying them through wreckless behavior. So far, this has reflected positively on Parkours image.

Parkour gyms have sprung up in a few places, and I think that it's the best thing that could ever happen. Not only does it add legitimacy to the sport/discipline in the eyes of authorities, but it also gives people a safe and effective way to train. It sure beats the hell out of, "Well, I saw a video of a guy jumping off a big building. I guess I should start with a small building."

I worry for those who are exposed to the action but not the philosophy. The other day as I was walking I saw a group of middle-school aged kids messing around on the roofs of some shipping containers, trying to gather the courage to jump from container to container. I didn't say anything to them because I figured it wasn't my business; in retrospect I probably should have.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 12:07:02 AM by Gren the Wicked »

Offline deltron3030

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2009, 10:36:57 PM »
no matter what media or what influence... parkour will always be about me vs the enviroment.. not recklessness and competition.  as long as their our ppl to look out for the ppl who try to advance too fast i think parkour will do fine

but no matter what, as long ppl still believe in the philosophy the media can never take that away from the true practitioners.

even if they are no parkour signs... i never really been the one to follow something i believed to be unjust...

Offline Greg Davis

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2009, 11:55:29 PM »
One of these threads finally stopped showing up on my unread topics list. And now another...

Honestly I don't think "Parkour" will expand beyond what it is... that is PARKOUR will not become bigger at an increasing rate. More than likely it will be "free running". The lack of philosophy makes this sport MUCH more attractive to the younger crowd. plus it contains "cooler" movements with flips and aerials and all. Parkour will maintain the steady growth it always has I believe... It won't pick up rapid speed with a huge crowd of people joining the growing mass of Traceurs all at once. It will always be slow because true practitioners need to take the time to get the philosophy and the mental work down. True practitioners will not be the downfall, imitators will bring it down.

As Parkour becomes more noticed though, Free Running will in turn pick up popularity VERY quickly. Media and games (Mirror's Edge) will put Free Running at the top of the hot new extreme sport list. Which will obviously cause a lot of problems. Then this all sends a huge red flag to Parkour. Basically, the people that don't take the time to learn what they are capable of will be the sports downfall. They will give it a bad name and a dangerous one at that. Like skateboarding, the people that don't try and build there skills and merely jump in and give it their all will be the ones to destroy the reputation of Free Running AND Parkour.

I'm not in any way blaming Free Running or saying that the practitioners of this particular sport are like skaters in anyway. But, Free Running IS more flashy and WILL catch the attention of younger kids. Parkour on the other hand looks neat, but takes a lot more than flips to make it look good. It takes the time to hone in the skills for perfect flow, the time that ADD ridden kids don't have these days. All I'm saying is that TRUE Parkour will never be lost and will most likely will not grow at any astounding rate. You will see "No Free Running" signs much sooner than "No Parkour" and when the cops ask you what you're doing say "Parkour" or "Jumping over this rail." Because honestly, they don't care. They make a living running "punks" out of their favorite spots. Whether we are there for good or bad reasons we are "loitering" not training in their eyes and I may be making a stereotype of cops and I don't mean to, but most of them really just don't want to hear your explanation. At least they never wanted to hear mine. So I say "Parkour" and if they ask what it is I'll give a short explanation. If they start of by asking me in an incriminating manner (you know the tone in their voice that I'm talking about), then I just say "messing around on this rail". Often times they think of you as childish rather than harmful. If they leave me alone then I don't care what they think. But that's cops. Skaters, well you can try and explain the sport but all they want is "Do a Trick!". Yea, It's sick.

Basically, all the rambling adds up to "Who Cares". Why worry about the future of Parkour now? Run, Train, Get Noticed (I don't mean sponsored, just make a name... be recognized for the sport and the philosophy). Whatever happens to Parkour happens and I'm sure with time it will build it's nice little BAD reputation because of all the stupid kids (yes blunt) that say "Hey, I bet I can jump off this building and not DIE" and then they do. THAT will destroy the sport.

As a final note I would just like to state that I AM a Traceur and although I don't know how long I have been one I FEEL that I can call myself one. I feel like I have the knowledge base and the training to be considered one. I may be screwed by ADD but I have the patience to learn what I need to and SAFELY test my limits. (That is, no roof jumping. Not even high walls because I don't feel my roll and/or legs are prepared for that) I know how far to push myself without going over the top and I know when to call it a day so that I don't get hurt. If people who are interested in what I'm doing are willing to listen to what I have to say then I tell them what I have just explained to all of you. Parkour is a practice that will NEVER cease to exist and will NEVER grow at an increasing rate. Free Running will blow up because the option of point based competition is there where it would be merely impossible to rate Parkour because it is random and chaotic, yet fluid and perfect.

I hope this settled your minds or at least made you think in a different direction. I think I played Devil's advocate here as well as agreeing with the topic at hand.
I always face north, therefore I have no guides other than my body and mind. By always facing north I am always moving forward and up, regardless of the obstacle in my path.

Offline Zach Hu Zerdaty

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2009, 12:09:30 AM »
no matter what media or what influence... parkour will always be about me vs the enviroment.. not recklessness and competition.  as long as their our ppl to look out for the ppl who try to advance too fast i think parkour will do fine

but no matter what, as long ppl still believe in the philosophy the media can never take that away from the true practitioners.

even if they are no parkour signs... i never really been the one to follow something i believed to be unjust...


for every other parkourist here. first: we all started, becaus its fun, its beautiful, and its a masterfull skill. for those of us who feel thretend because we were doing parkour befor we even knew it was parkour, its ok, train hard, and we may be an example to the name of this loved skill, dont let the name down, it never let us down.
Peace - Zach Hu Zerdaty.

Offline Sean C

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2009, 02:20:55 PM »
wow guys there was some stuff to think about in those post. alot of it was thoughts that had been creeping up on me for awhile now and even moreso with the release of mirrorsedge. i was one of those crazy Skater kids or at least i gained that rep instantly. and i pray that FreeRunning / Parkour doesnt become the new skating its a lifestyle that doesnt desrerve that amount of corruption brought on by figureheads with bloatedheads and corperate america exploiting the "latest Trend" for monitary gain. im greatful for this thread because im reminded that this is intead a lifstyle i often get caught up in the movement on the street and forget how this can help me move in all other aspects of life.

Offline Zach Hu Zerdaty

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2009, 12:16:10 AM »
Exactly, free runing/parkour is not only a verry amazing art form, its one i find amazingly usefull and fun in everyday life, and i belive that if it becomes to popular it will become much less amazing, and significant, you guys, the first time you droped off of your highest building you ever climbed, like I, i am sure you felt it, the amazing feeling of... "I can seriously do that and not die??????" and if everybody dose parkour that would contain much less significance.
Peace - Zach Hu Zerdaty.

Offline Greg Davis

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2009, 12:45:29 AM »
One thing you DO have to remember though is that WE are the first generation of Traceurs and Traceuses (sp?) and WE set the movememt and the flow. WE are the ones that judge in which direction the sport follows. Basically, we have to decide NOW whether we should let it get big or die with our generation and as we have seen letting it get bigger is what we have chosen because there are classes dedicated to the education of parkour and the art of movement. Don't let it's popularity make it any less fun because you HAVE to remember that most of the people that join in NOW that it's in the media and such will be doing it for all the wrong reasons. WE are the ones who started because WE know what it takes to become a true practitioner of the TRUE Parkour. As it becomes more popular the name "Parkour" will become confused with others such as "Free Running" or "Urban Climbing" and others of that type. Parkour is the only oen with a philosophical basis and will always be the only one. We just need to make sure that we are educating EVERYONE in what it really takes to do ACTUAL Parkour. Not just the "cool moves" or the "roof jumping". It takes getting in tune with your mind and body and a lot of people are unaware of how much preparation that can actually take. I hope that Parkour does not become blurred together with the other "style-based" (for lack of a better term) sports because that's not what it's meant to be. It's meant to be useful and to be used daily. Not just when you feel like pulling out so BA move or anything like that...
I always face north, therefore I have no guides other than my body and mind. By always facing north I am always moving forward and up, regardless of the obstacle in my path.

Offline Zach Hu Zerdaty

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2009, 02:41:31 AM »
+1 greg verry insightfull, free running, the name that will get blown up, not parkour. anywhay, we are also the reson it grows, usualy becaus we want our skill to be recognised, but when others learn it we are thretend, or scared for them becaus they will not take it a serious as they need to to be safe.
Peace - Zach Hu Zerdaty.

Offline Sean C

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Re: The Expansion of Parkour
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2009, 04:37:20 AM »
Well regardless of what happens to Parkour/Freerunning whether it blows up and peoples misconseptions ruin it. Or if falls of the map and dies. I dont care. I dont care that im the only person in my town FreeRunnin and people look at me like im crazy or if they stare in awe. I dont care if everybody and their mother starts runnin. Because I know what im doing and nobody can take the joy that it brings from me. And maybe if i continue to set a good example maybe just maybe the new generation will follow.