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As a long time Parkour practicioner and passionate reader I am always looking for good movement related books. Interesting material on whatever subject, be it climbing, urban exploration, survival,… and of course Parkour. The following article is a short review of The Night Climbers of Cambridge. If anyone has any recommendations for me on what I could read please let me know on the Facebook page or via e-mail (alex@we-trace.at)

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Written in the 1930s by a Cambridge (UK) student under the pseudonym Whipplesnaith, the Night Climbers of Cambridge is best described as a mixture of urban bouldering / free climbing history and the philosophy behind it. The book has become a classic in urban climbing literature (if there is such a thing) and when I stumbled across it looking for interesting movement related reads it instantly caught my eye.

 

Imagine the 1930s. It is a cold wet night when a group of students decide to take on yet another climbing challenge they set themselves. Mostly their climbing challenges take place on the renowned Cambridge university campus. All they are equipped with is their everyday clothes and maybe a rope (suits, shoes we would consider stiff the least,…). They have a goal but the risk of being caught could feature some uncertain consequences, maybe even get them banned from the uni let alone the potential danger they face during their climbs.

 

But I still would not consider them daredevils, I would say quite the opposite is the case and in many of the authors descriptions and views on things I could greatly identify a mindset that people involved in Parkour have as well. Especially the climbers relation to fear, potential danger and how they deal with it.

 

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In one of the first chapters Whipplesnaith (real name: Noel H. Symington) explains that nearly every undergraduate in Cambridge used to “illegally” climb the college´s fences in an attempt to reenter the campus after closing hours. By doing so they avoided the monetary fine they would have had to pay and the anger from the porters.

 

BUT: “Usually he has been told of an easy way in: ´An absolute cinch, any fool can do it!´ but when the time comes he finds it somewhat fearful. Twelve feet of easy drain pipe is not so easy when he is eight feet from the ground. He hesitates, and keeps looking round to see if a proctor is coming to catch him and send him down from Cambridge to his weeping parents. At last, the ordeal ended, he finds himself in college, not quite sure whether to be proud or ashamed of himself. … He has had his first taste of night climbing.

Most students would end their excursion of “night climbing” there but a handful got interested and wanted to do more. One of the major obstacles Noel describes is the inability to start. Many people would think “I always meant to do something like that myself, but somehow did nothing about it.

Any similarities to Parkour? So what does Noel have to throw at people thinking that way?: “Do something about it, now. There must be hundreds of men throughout the university who feel that it is a sport they would like, and who lose it only through failure to make a start. … Do something definite; make arrangements to go out on the first fine night. By fine is meant any night when it is not raining;… .Find, if possible, a man with experience, however little, of night climbing, and ask him to take you out. If you know none, then take another beginner like yourself, and start together.

And there you go. Noel just wrote the beginners tutorial for how to start Parkour or any sport I guess. In the 30s! He continues by mentioning how to conquer the fear of heights and that night climbing should be approached (like anything else) by going from easy to hard, first seeking easy routes and then gradually increasing difficulty over time. This sounds like common sense but then again think of all the people doing these immensely huge drops in their first months of Parkour.

 

In the following chapters basic techniques are explained. From climbing drain pipes to using “chimneys” (- two walls in a distance to each other so people can push themselves with their backs and feet against the wall and stay stable), the techniques are adapted to the possibilities provided by the campus architecture. Whip

 

The book is filled with a lot of pictures of climbers in action, great quotes and stories about the nightly adventures, including a chase around the rooftops of the city with the police.

 

The only drawback / turn off for me was the meticulus description of climbing routes. Because I have no idea about the places the author talks about it was hard to imagine the routes and the problems he described. This should in no means though be a reason for not reading the book, it is great! And consider that for quite some time the public had no access to it as it was hidden away and not published until it was reprinted in the 50s and then 2007. So for me getting an affordable copy of The Night Climbers of Cambridge is a privilege that should be acknowledged.

 

If you know any other interesting reads just let me know, I am always on the lookout for new material.

This interview is part of the archives. It was published on January 12th 2013 when I was doing an interview series for our PKLinz Blog.

 

Owen Covill is an english Tracer and has shaped the UK (and international) Parkoru scene. At the time I asked him for an interview he told me he is not actively training anymore a circumstance that makes the whole interview even more valuable. Hearing the thoughts of someone as rooted in the Parkour scene as Owen was, but who has taken the decision of stopping, is one of these rare opportunities.

 

Whoever remembers the old Cambridge videos might remember Owen moving alongside with Danny Ilabaca and Phil Doyle. Additionally Owen was a coach at the famous Playstation workshops that toured Germany and Austria.

 

Regarding the picture: Many years ago Owen, Danny, Phil and others did a charity event where they would do a certain amount of backflips in a certain time. The collected money would go to an organisation called New Foundations that would use it to support people in need in the Niger Delta. Overall the guys collected about 1000 pounds and did around 2000 backflips in 4 hours. You can see a video of the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgeEvR6EnxY


 

Alex: Hi Owen, thank you for the opportunity to interview you!

You started training very early in England thus you were able to observe the development of the scene there but also worldwide. You have mentioned that you have basically stopped training Parkour.

Do you still know whats going on in the scene?

 

Owen: I don’t think I do know what’s going on anymore, main reason for that is there is so much going on these days. Parkour has had a BOOM just as we expected. I still follow what I know though, I’ve tried to stay in contact with people and Danny and Chris even came to Cambridge and it was great to catch up. Phil (or little Phil, as I know him) he’s disappeared… busy always running off to different countries doing amazing things. (Hopefully he’ll see this and remember me, haha) Jin is back in Cambridge (from China) so it’s been great seeing him. Although due to my path being quite different to most people I know it does make things hard to stay in touch.

 

Alex: Did you make the decision of stopping Parkour or did it happen slowly?

Owen: I’ll be honest I never made a decision, it kind of just happened. I used to have conversation (a hell of a lot of conversations) with Jin where we discussed what we’d be doing in the future. We always said that we could never imagine doing anything else. For a very long time I think we believed that we wouldn’t do anything different. Always funny looking back on conversations of what we thought we would be doing.

What really did it for me (which is sad really) is money. I started working more often, and I decided I wanted to make something out of my life. I went from training Parkour every day (or every other) to working almost every day. My training slowly became less because of this. And then I met future Mrs Covill, and time continue to detract from Parkour. I could feel my body not coping with what I wanted to do so I slowly stopped doing as much as I did.

 

Alex: Could you tell us what you think the reasons of stopping are/were? ( Loss of motivation? )

Owen: I had Parkour friends like Danny who would try to encourage me to get more involved with the media side of things (not because it was the most important thing to him) because he could see my time slipping from Parkour.

I knew I wanted certain things from life, family has always been important. I just didn’t feel Parkour could deliver everything I wanted.

I remember an echoing point in my “Parkour career” when I was doing a Playstation event in Germany, and everyone had a late night. The next morning we were contracted to do a film shoot, no one wanted to do anything. Especially me… it took the enjoyment away from me, it was the first time I’d woken up to know I had to do Parkour. My choice was taken away, I’d never had to do Parkour before when I didn’t want to.

It wasn’t for me, for many others… fine. But for me, not so much.

 

Alex: Is it actually possible for someone who was as involved in Parkour as you were to completely stop it? Do you occasionally feel the need of going out and train?

Owen: Yes I do, I will still look at everything with my Parkour mindset, it’s like a gift I have been given from the years on non-stop training. I get thoughts in my head to vault a rail or jump up and start doing laches… occasionally I’ll see an opportunity to do a somersault with perfect conditions… nice grass, perfect take off and right height drop and I just can’t help myself. And alot of the time that the opportunity comes up it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so because I’ll be in a suit or working with others that under working environment I would have to tell them not to do it themselves. Quite funny really.

 

Alex: What do you think of Parkour in England nowadays? How has it changed? What are the biggest developments you can observe?

Owen: Biggest thing I’ve noticed… there are so many amazing people. Doing amazing things! I think it’s great to see the level of progression that has developed over the years. The thing that’s changed the most for me is that the talent is far beyond what it’s been before.

 

Alex: Anything you don’t like about Parkour or the Parkour scene in general?

Owen: I don’t know enough about the scene these days, I know what I didn’t like when I was about and I doubt that much has changed. Won’t bother talking about it now because it was hardly worth talking about it back then. Politics haven’t changed and never will, no matter where you go or what you do.

 

 

Alex: Have you had any experiences with bad attitude/disrespectful behaviour amongst „traceurs“?

Owen: Yes of course, it’s part of being a human being. No matter what you do you’ll always come across those whose only motivation is impressing others or feeling superior. This will never change, for example… everyone that drives a car has had to learn certain skills to be able to do it. But some people will drive like idiots because they think they command the road or they are more important than others for what ever reason. You’ll have good drivers and bad drivers, no matter what you are doing you will come across these people.

At the end of the day surround yourself with the people you trust and care about and forget about anyone else.

 

Alex: What do you think of the image Parkour has amongst the public? (in England) And why do you think that especially in England Parkour bans are beeing discussed and even enforced?

Owen: One of the key things I had to learnt was that (to some) Parkour is antisocial, antisocial is set by the society and if the majority see it as a problem then it is…

We live together as a community and at the end of the day we have to respect that. Don’t get me wrong I had my fair share of confrontations with people who didn’t understand what we were doing and wanted to argue and have a go. But if you want to train in a communal area you need to be respectful of the others that share the space. I’m not saying take shit, but be respectful and the “bigger” person. I’m not saying that just leave an area as soon as someone questions you. But speak to people and explain and try to gain understanding. I don’t believe this happens anymore, I know as I was leaving the scene I was seeing more and more disrespectful Traceurs…

We worked hard to try to gain respect of the people in the local area, and it didn’t always work but I know that a lot of that work has been undone.

This is important in Parkour, give the same amount of respect you give you body, to your environment that you train in, the people that are in it and those around you.

 

Alex: Do you have contact to friends who still train?

Owen: Yes I mentioned some of them above, it’s always great to hear from them and even better seeing the great things they’ve been able to achieve on the Internet.

 

Alex: If you would have to advise a beginner that wants to start Parkour one thing. What would it be?

Owen: Touch… practice your touch. Everything you do, make sure you do it quietly. If you do it and it’s loud then do it again until it’s not.

 

Alex: Is there anything you still want to add?

Owen: Parkour has given me so much! Although I don’t practice it anymore it will be ingrained within. If/As you move onto different things in life you’ll be surprised how much you can transfer.

 

I hope a non-practitioner‘s words can still mean something to those that are still moving.

This interview is part of the archives. It was published on January 30th 2013 when I was doing an interview series for our PKLinz Blog.

 

Rene is the founder of Origins Parkour in Canada, well known for the huge indoor Parkour training gym they have built themselves without the help of sponsors or any financial aid. As initiator of the North American Parkour Championships Rene has not been free of criticism from some parts of the global community but we are lucky to have him share his thoughts on the whole building process of their Parkour gym and on competition in general. Additionally the Canadian style of Parkour is characterised by a very methodical approach and some amazing results, especially considering the average standing long jump amongst canadian practicioners.


 

Alex: Hi Rene, thank you a lot fort his interview!

Your Parkour gym is famous around the world and has inspired a lot of people to build something similar.

How did funding this project work exactly? And how are you covering the operation expanses?

 

Rene: It’s famous?! Well to make a long story short I put in all the money I had, and when that ran out I had a friend invest all the money he had, and when that ran out I went to the bank and asked for a loan, and when the money from the loan ran out I went to another friend and he invested all the money he had… Finally the gym was complete to my liking. Now it sustains itself with members paying for classes and open gym.
I’m sure there’s some sort of a moral or lesson here…

 

Alex: Did sponsors play any role in funding?

Rene: Nope.

 

Alex: Did you get support from the community?

Rene: There was a core group of us that did most of the construction. Others helped out when they could. If it wasn’t for a small dedicated few the gym wouldn’t exist.

 

Alex: What was the inspiration for building such a gym?

Rene: Well the many gyms that were built before mine laid out a lot of the ground work. Being the critical thinker I am I couldn’t help but see flaws in every one of them. Even in my own gym I see flaws, and its my passion to improve upon them all the time. Every day I walk in to the gym and think of tearing stuff down and starting all over again. I’m constantly thinking of how to get rid of what we don’t need and make room for better installations. Our programs continue to evolve and improve as well. My standards for coaching are just as high as my standards for the facility. I really want to have the best possible environment to not only learn and practice parkour, but also allow practitioners to reach their highest potential. For this reason I’ll always be inspired. I can’t stand to be away from the project for too long. It never leaves my mind. There is always something to be done.

 

Alex: Competition has always been a widely discussed topic amongst the community. As the initiator of the upcoming North American Parkour Championships following questions arise.

What do you think of competition in Parkour generally?

 

Rene: I think it’s a necessary provider of goals for some athletes. Specifically high performing athletes. I think some of them currently put out videos as a means of competing and acquiring status (If you count youtube views then you fit in this group). Live competition, however, is a better demonstration of skill. You can rehearse and practice the same line for a video, but that doesn’t mean you will be able to carry those skills over to another scenario. Not everyone has to compete, but for those that need it I think it can bring a lot of positive growth for parkour.

 

As I said it is a necessary outlet for many high level athletes. I think a lot of them are bored with parkour. They get high profile jobs and get to make a living doing what they love, but they stop challenging themselves, and sometimes stop training all together. I won’t name any names, but it’s true. Most, if not all of these athletes are just happy to be thrown in with people that can inspire them and push them, push parkour, and get more people involved. The right format of competition does that, and that’s what we are trying to create here.

 

Alex: Do you think there are dangers behind competitions in Parkour? (Especially for participators and especially the danger of over estimating the own abilities)

If yes, what are you doing against it?

If no, what is your personal opinion about it?

 

Rene: Not really. I mean parkour can be dangerous if you choose to make it dangerous. Just think about all the stress you have when you prepare for a big jump. Why do you do it if it causes you so much stress? Now imagine preparing for the same jump except in this instance your effort is being timed or measured! Yes, competition is stressful, but is stress bad? Do we not train parkour to put ourselves through stress in order to adapt and improve?

Everyone falls. If you fall because you over estimated how much stress you can take that’s your fault, not the competition. We aren’t setting up challenges where someone holds a gun to your head and tells you to jump. We’re building courses that consist of certain structures. It’s up to the course runner to decide how they pass these structures. In previous smaller competitions we’ve used eliminations and qualifiers to make sure the main competition consists of athletes who are well trained and prepared for the stress of the course.

 

Alex: What´s the main difference between the North American Parkour Championships and Art of Motion? (besides the different judgement of movement)

 

Rene: I think the main difference is the people behind this event are long time parkour athletes themselves. We’re also highly critical thinkers. We didn’t just wake up one day and put together some courses and invite some people. This event has been a long time coming, and we’re proud to take parkour competitions back from the people who don’t know anything about the sport.

 

Alex:based on what criteria will you judge the athletes?

Rene: We have 3 areas of competition that will all be judged separately:

Courses
Both our speed course and precision course will be decided by whoever completes the course(s) in the fastest time. In the precision course if you touch the ground via falling off of a structure you are immediately eliminated.

 

Skill Challenges
We have 3 skill challenges. One for an approach skill, one for a jumping and landing skill, and one for a climbing skill. For example one of the skills is a dyno challenge. There will be one start hold, and various end holds each one presenting a more difficult challenge. Points will be awarded for the most difficult challenge completed.

 

Freestyle Battle Tournament
This will be performed in a relatively small area (compared to AOM) where we set up a variety of structures. In this space athletes are encouraged to create movements. They will be judged on difficulty, execution, creativity, and flow. There will be no time constraints for athletes. They can choose to do longer or shorter sets. The athletes will compete in teams of two. Judges will select winning pairs that move on to the next round and face another team.

 

Alex: What do you think of the genreal knowledge of Parkour amongst practitioners nowadays?

Rene: General knowledge is easily acquired. Everyone has general knowledge. Special knowledge is only going to be held by those who are passionate about parkour. I think its absolutely ridiculous to wish that everyone have this special knowledge and passion. Parkour will continue to grow and for most people it may only touch their lives for a very short time. I certainly hope that this short time is not spent with someone talking their ear off about their knowledge and philosophies of parkour. I hope that people are just able to enjoy it and overcome challenges. That is surely better than how most people spend their time “nowadays.”
Alex: How important is outdoor training to you? and If you had to give a relation in %: What is the relation of your indoor vs. outdoor training at the moment?

Rene: I think if you’ve never trained outside you’ve never really experienced parkour and might not actually be as effective outdoors as you are indoors. This may sound dangerous, but I think every traceur needs to spend some time outside if for no other reason than to make mistakes. They need to fall on concrete, they need to have walls they thought were solid break under their feet, they need to cut their hands and slip on moss. All of these experiences will toughen the traceur and teach him valuable lessons.
I have nearly ten years experience training parkour outdoors. Over which time I’ve learned many lessons about my environment. Recently most of my training has moved indoors, and this is largely due to having a gym where I can put together training sessions that involve everything from rail precisions, to gap jumps, to strength training with weights. As nice as that sounds it is not necessary to have access to a gym. You can get everything you need if you have enough creativity and will power.

 

Alex: Is there anything else you would like to say/ share?

Rene: Yes! Please contact me if you want to talk about anything I’ve said in this interview. Whether you agree with me or not I would love to hear from you.

This interview is part of the archives. It was published in 3 parts starting December 3rd 2012 when I was doing an interview series for our PKLinz Blog. This post will be exceptionally long as it will contain all 3 parts of the previously released interview.

This was the first interview to be released at the old Blog and it had opened many doors to future interviews. Also Naïm took a LOT of time and effort with his answers, one of many reasons the interview is so special.


Alex: Hi Naïm , first of all thank you for your willingness to take part in that interview. Let´s get started.

 

Naïm: In your videos/training you follow a very direct and clean movement style. What is your inspiration for your way of training and what do you want to achieve with your training?

NMy way of training is directly linked to my conception of parkour, in which I would distinguish between two different aspects:

1- The theoretical purpose, which is to be able to go from A to B in the most efficient way possible using only your body and your surroundings. The concept of efficiency is a complex concept that includes several dimensions:

a)the speed: how fast you can be from A to B.
b)the safety / security: making sure to prevent yourself from any damage or injury on the way from A to B.
c)the economy of energy: making sure to last until B, which means that you avoid any unneccesary moves that would decrease your stamina.
d)the ability to adapt oneself (to situations, environnements, places, weather, different types of light, of material, etc) along the way.
e)the fluency: being able to link movements and techniques together in order to gain speed and save energy.

2- The means to reach this purpose in practice. This is basically what training is made of: technical work, increasement of control over the different techniques that could be used, physical traning in order to prepare and maintain the body in the appropriate conditions regarding to the use we want to make of it, mental training in order to develop the ability to know what we are capable of -or not- and to overcome irrational fears that may prevent us from going all the way until B -and, on the other hand, learn to listen to our rational fear when it is preventing us to do something we cannot or some thing we don’t master enough to land it properly.

Learning these different things requires time (a lot of it). In consequence, it requires from the person that is training, patience and determination, willingness to learn and improve, whatever time and efforts it will take. I think these are the basics to learn properly and not injure oneself too badly.

Now, to answer your question more precisely, I was brought into parkour by watching two videos:

1-the report from the 08/04/2001 on the french television channelTF1, about David Belle and the Yamakasi guys, which is viewable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v7rLfV8lUA

2-a video by Timpisteur, an ex-traceur that now doesn’t train anymore, which was called „Best of Pie“.

I discovered these videos in 2004 and it made me want to start training Parkour.

These two videos, while displaying different people, had in common to be more about creativity (at least the first part of the report, the one about David Belle, as well as Timpisteur’s video) and efficiency than performance, more about how fast or fluent someone can be, rather than how far or high he can jump. And this is what seduced me, and, at the same time, what made me think I could do these things. I didn’t get, for example, the same feelings from the „Yamakasi“ movie, which I saw years before, but which didn’t make me want to start training. Consequently, I would say that I was clearly more attracted by the creative/efficient side of training than the performance/who has got the biggest jump side of it.

Then, while starting training, I discovered all the other videos from Timpisteur, the ones from Chris Rowat (A.K.A Blane) -as well as his blog and the precious ressources it had about training- , the ones from TCT (Jin and Owen), Teamtraceur, the first PKVM episodes, and then the videos from Teghead, Joenkkoe, Ettore Tozzi, Oniipk, Phil Doyle (his first years training), the Sin Clan and Nextgen videos with Jason Matten, and all the young guys. All these videos influenced me a lot and directly shaped my way of training -and they still bring me inspiration for the next years to come, I would say-.

I also read a lot about training on the Parkour.NET forums -that sadly don’t exist anymore-, and learned a lot from there too I guess.

Today, I watch a lot of videos showing animals (such as monkeys, felines, lemurs, but also bears, etc) moving through their environment. These are definitely my greatest source of inspiration.
And speaking of humans, I generally like to watch the videos coming from Philparkour, Eeto91, Oscar Sanchez, Callum Powell, for example. Apart from these and a few more, I don’t watch that much parkour videos anymore.

 

Alex: What does practicing Parkour mean to you? What do you gain by it?

Naïm: I would divide my training into two different but complementary aspects, which are efficiency and creativity.

It is a very personal view, and I don’t pretend to have the right view; it is just mine.

I work a lot on efficiency while training. As it is the theoretical purpose of parkour, I try to keep it in mind at any moment and think through its prism when I look at things, especially when I’m training runs, asking myself questions, for example when I choose between two techniques to overcome this particular obstacle or that particular situation: is the technique I’m choosing the fastest, if I’m being chased by someone? But, at the same time, is it the one that lets me save a maximum of energy, or just the more instinctive -because I might still have a long way to go after this step-? Am I sure I could do it properly if I were stressed to be caught? And if I was chased by a leopard, would I still use this same technique? Would I still go in that same direction? Or would there be a safer solution then? And, by the way, this technique is not enough to escape, so how could I link it the best I can with the next one, in order to gain time and save energy? And if I had a precious object in my right hand that I would have to keep with me, would I still be able to use it? And what if it was raining? Etc.

I’m constantly using my imagination to challenge myself positively, inventing new problems in order to build new solutions. In this system, efficiency is a pretext for being creative, and being creative a way to get efficient. That’s why I like to train this way: I’m having fun, and I’m working at the same time. This way, the games I’m playing are not pointless, and the work I’m doing is not boring.

While doing this, I’m using my imagination to try to be creative. To me, this is what Parkour is all about. When you train Parkour, you want:

1-to draw different routes than people are usually using.

2-to invent different ways to use the things that are around you (a bench, a bin, a rail, a wall) on the routes you’ve drawn.

3-to adapt yourself to different situations, which means you have to find different techniques and ways to overcome each thing/obstacle you’re using.

4-to imagine extreme situations that could happen in order to give different orientations to your training and make you work on various configurations and deal with various problems, so you make sure to get ready for the most numerous possible situations.

These four reasons make me think that parkour is intrisically linked to creativity. But I guess it is also very personal and due to my taste for art in general, for using my imagination, for research, for making the most of a few things, for invention and renewal, and also for increasing the effectiveness and precision of the way we look at things. I live and practice parkour as an art, not as a sport. Even if it makes what we could call a “sportive” use of the human body, to me it is not anymore a sport, and in fact it is its exact opposite (no predefined rules, no competitions, no trophies nor medals, no approval certificate, no federation license, no clubs, no defined playground, no hierarchical structure, no sponsors, no money to gain, no money to pay, no required clothes, etc).

As anything else, each individual can get different feelings and gain different things from practicing parkour, it depends on the person. In my case, parkour gave me different opportunities:

1-to express myself as an artist

2-to gain a lot of both mental and physical strenght

3-to learn about my body: to know how it is made, how it reacts in different situations, know its possibilities and its limits, and its unexplored potentialities.

4-to learn about myself: how I react to fear, what type of fears I should fight and overcome, what type of fears I should listen to carefully and follow, the reasons why I get scared from some things and situations, the tools and tips to overcome my mental barriers.

5-to learn about architecture and structures I’m using: the different types of materials they are made of, how do they react (Do they slip? Do they grip? Are they solid and stable? Which weight can they support? How do they react to water? Etc), be able to visualise and measure the spaces between them instantaneously.

 

 

Alex: A lot of people just practice single jumps nowadays, how important is connecting movement while training for you?

Naïm: Something that could make parkour difficult to comprehend for beginners is that the word „parkour“ defines in reality two different things:

1-an efficient means of transport using only human body and its surroundings (the purpose).

2-a training method including technical, physical, and mental exercises (the way to reach this purpose).

Of course, when you’re a beginner and you’re training parkour, you need to work a lot on the physical side in order to condition your body to what you’re about to use it for, and also you need to work a lot on the technical side, because you need to learn the basic techniques that are used and useful in parkour: running, precision jump, roll, armjump, catpass, wallrun, climb-up, lazy vault, turn vault, side vault, etc.

That means you will take some years exploring these techniques, obsering how the other do them, ask questions about them, and try to learn them and do them properly, which takes time and efforts.
In consequence, you will work on each technique, repeating it over and over and trying it in different situations. So in fact, you need to practice „single jumps“ for a while, because before you are capable of linking techniques togehter you first need to master each and every technique correctly.

To me, there are two problems with people practicing single jumps though:

1-I think it would be interesting -and important- to work in parallel to the technical training I just described, on running, breathing, stamina training, and little movements combinations, from the very beginning, firstly because it is something doable without taking too much risks, and secondly because it is something you will need later to connect the movements together and make longer runs. And it looks like a very few people do that.

2- Many traceurs just take the habbit to train this way (one jump – stop – one jump), and never go on to the next step, which is connecting movements together, and link the obstacles overcoming parts between them with running, in order to make movement out of movements.This is a big problem, when you think what parkour is meant to be (a means of transport), and what people really does (showing how far they can jump on one single jump, and then stop to see if their friends recorded it on camera). This is not the same activity, not even anymore a different way to train. A lot of people that claim to practice parkour actually don’t: and this is not meant to be a judgement, it is a fact.

 

 

Alex: How important is strength training / conditioning to you?

Naïm: Strenght training -especially when you begin- is the only way to get your body ready for parkour.

Of course, a lot of people don’t do any strenght training and can still jump really far and high. But how far and high they can jump doesn’t show how their body is reacting to the impacts they are inflicting to it, it doesn’t show the post-traumas they may have, it doesn’t show in which physical health they will be in 5 years, in 10 years, in 20 years.

There are so many funny and entertaining ways to work on your strenght, using the outside structures, rather than being locked in a gym! When I do some strenght training, I’m always having fun while working. I just invent some games and rules like „let’s travel all this way from here to there without touching the floor“. Then, you just have to choose what you want to work on more precisely: legs, arms, stamina, power, etc. It is up to you to orientate your training in any of these directions.

You don’t have to do it everyday, you can do some here and there, just to keep your body in good conditions for parkour training. And, once again, it doesn’t have to be boring (like push-ups and pull-ups can certainly be when you repeat them a lot, even if, of course, they are helpful), but can be really entertaining as long as you use your imagination.

These 2 videos might give people some ideas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X15VRzQHq2U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGzepBg216M

This video is really good too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to6SGjaovSo&feature=plcp

 

 

Alex: Are you teaching Parkour yourself? and: If yes, where do you lay your focus on? (Especially for beginners )

Naïm: I have been teaching parkour during one year in a social-cultural structure of my neighbourhood to a little group of 7 kids from 11 to 15 years old.

The parkour classes there couldn’t persist this year, but I’d be happy to keep teaching, and the kids would have been happy to continue too.

These kids were totally new to parkour, which was an interesting experience to me. The classes were 2 hours long. I dedicated the first one to talking only: I asked them what they knew about parkour and what it is, took the time to explain in details what it consisted in to me, and how we were going to work together. I also made the essential distinction between risk and danger to make them aware of why they should try some jumps, and not some others.

Basically, I told them this. Risk in the possibility to fail when you try something. Danger is the nature of a situation where you can get hurt very badly and/or die. What you should want to do, as a parkour practitioner, is to take risks in situations that are not dangerous, in order to learn the techniques for example; and jump in dangerous situations only if there is no risk to fail. If there is any risk that you fail in a dangerous situation, then you should walk away and work on the technique you want to use there to master it perfectly, and work on your mental to control your fear (which could make you fail where you shouldn’t), and then come back. If you still feel like there is a risk you fail, it means you’re not ready, mentally, or technically, or both. If you feel that you’re capable of the jump, that you are certain to do it properly, and that the fear you still feel is irrational, then you should work on your mental and do the jump. But basically, I don’t bring beginners into dangerous situations at all, there’s no need of it.

I remember that in the end of the „Generation Yamakasi“ movie, Williams Belle said: „When I’m taking kids on a roof, they are risking their lives! Me, I just want to teach them how to do a jump“. I never understood the consequential link between these two propositions. Having to make them risk their lives in order to teach them how to do a jump is a view I completely disagree with.

To sum up what we did during this year of training with the kids, I would say:

1-I taught them how to warm up and stretch properly.

2-I taught them how to run properly.

3-I taught them some of the basic techniques that are used in parkour, and made them work on them along the year.

4-I made them do a lot of conditionning and strenght training, such as quadrupedal movement, push-ups, pull-ups, and different invented exercises and „games“ adapted to the places we were training in.

5-I made them work on little movements combinations and short runs in the end of the year, to condition their bodies not to stop after a jump, but to be ready to keep running and/or jumping.

6-I made them work on their ability to measure what they are/aren’t capables of, and to act in consequence according to the level of danger of the situations they were in (20cm high border; 1m high wall; wet ground; etc), instead of willing to do a jump because their friend just did it, or just to impress him, or me, or whoever they would like to impress at that age.

 

 

Alex: What was the process behind „Parkour, literally“? What was your motivation to shoot such a video?

Naïm: The motivation for making „Parkour, literally“ came from two different reasons:

1-Quentin and me shared the same conception of parkour: an efficient way to get from A to B using the human body and its suroundings. So, basically, we tried that type of training because we felt like we should train longer runs than what we were actually training at at that time.

2-Now we also decided to share this kind of training with people through a video series, and decided that because we were considering that in the huge diversity of things that a parkour training can actually look like, this kind of training was widely under-exposed.

As efficiency is the aim of parkour training, we considered that this particular part should be visible as any other part of training -and maybe even more than any other part-.

But, it was the contrary: when we went to some parkourday or any collective training , then we only saw people training single jumps, and other people applausing after every jump, no one training runs and movements combinations, no one running. What was important to them was how big the jump was -not to include it in a path, not to link it with any other technique or running-.

It was the same with videos: when we watched videos on Youtube, we only found „showreels“ and „teasers“ showing how big was every single jump the person was doing, and nothing else. In fact, the majority of videos that claimed to be parkour were actually acrobatics and gymnastics, and the only ones that included some parkour techniques displayed only single jumps and big stuff -without even talking about the fact that all these things were often really badly executed-. Do you know what was actually the first video displayed when you typed „parkour“ in Youtube search engine? It was Damien Walters doing acrobatics and stunts. Of course, Damien Walters is really good at what he does, and executes his moves really well…but that’s not the question: his videos don’t show any parkour training!

So, making these „Parkour, literally“ videos was for us an act of resistance and a way to try to give efficient training more visibility on the internet and in the parkour community, and it was at the same time a personal choice and a turning point in our trainings, something we wanted to make for us before anything.

We took these different decisions to give us the opportunity to have the biggest audience we could to make this kind of training the more visible we could:

1-Make a long video series showing long runs done with the efficiency concept in mind.

2-Accept EZ’s proposition to join the UF All Stars team, in order to use their visibility against them, and give „Parkour, literally“ a larger audience (and especially the young audience from Glyphmedia’s channel, which had been misleaded by EZ and his corporation, Urban Freeflow). The idea was also to trap them by gaining EZ’s confidence enough to make an interview of him that I pretended to be for a documentary about parkour, asking him crafty questions about UF history and what they did, in a way that would make him think we actually liked him and the competitions and other bullshit he created -and get him to speak freely about his real thoughts-, and then put this on the internet so everybody sees who he really is. Then, the plan was to make a noisy exit from UF and use it to spread the word about who they are and what they did.

We made the videos, we used UF popularity against them, but I never managed to trap EZ -he actually was really suspicious, and maintained distance between him and us- as I planned to do. So, we made the noisy exit of UF anyway, because I couldn’t wait any longer, and I felt like I would never have this interview.

To come back to the „Parkour, literally“ videos, I broke my right arm just before starting them, by failing on a rail catpass in a run I was training, so Quentin started alone on the first two episodes, and then he did the third episode with Anthony Arbona, a good friend of us. Of course, even if I was not able to do parkour at that time (at least not like this), I was with Quentin all the time, filming him, talking with him and thinking together about the route he chose, about the technique to use in this or that situation, etc. We did the whole thing together, from the idea we had to its realization. Along the path, while we were filming, we often had discussions about some parts: we had, for example, to figure out what was the most efficient technique to use in some situations. The fastest solution was often chosen, but sometimes we had the case of two different solutions, as fast as each other.Then, we tried to figure out what was the technique that could allow Quentin to save more energy, and sometimes the answer we found didn’t match the „usual traceur’s standards“, as it was a lot less impressive, and had no labelled name, but that was the solution we chose because it was to us the most efficient, and efficiency was what these videos were about.

The filming of these videos was something intense, because both of us were really demanding: I wanted the shot to be the cleanest, and Quentin wanted the movements to be the cleanest and the fastest. Until we were happy with both (video and parkour), we repeated the shots. That means Quentin had to do a lot of repetitions of each part of each run, and generally he ended the day exhausted. That made us think that was a good way of training. And we could see how much he improved since we began with it: at the beginning, as any other traceur that doesn’t train long runs, he had to slow down a lot when coming into obstacles, and had these „little steps“ problems to take off on his favorite foot. But while time passed, Quentin got used to speed, and could come into obstacles really fast, without having to slow down that much; also, he learned to use nearly every technique with both feet. He told me afterwards that shooting these videos were not only what it seemed (shooting videos): it completely changed his way of training, and made him improve like never he did before. And I could observe this myself when looking at him afterwards. Shooting these videos was definitely a great experience to both of us.

 

 

Alex: What is your motivation for shooting videos in general?

Naïm: I’m really happy you ask me this question. I heared so much stupid things about „parkour and videos“!

Before giving you my thoughts about it, I will sum up the two common attitudes I encountered during 8 years of parkour training:

1-The „I want to make my video RIGHT NOW even if I don’t know how to do parkour“ attitude.

This seems to be the most common attitude. A lot of practicioners, especially the young ones -but not only them-, come into parkour because they saw videos that impressed them and consequently want to try it themselves and make their own video in order to impress all their friends. This is a reason why when you type „parkour“ in Youtube, you find so many bad videos; people don’t even know how to do a jump, yet they film it and put the result on Youtube, whether it is a success or a fail -and call it parkour, when it has in reality nothing to do with it-.

But one problem with this attitude is that it also exists with more experienced traceurs. A lot of them make videos not to share a part of their trainings with others, not to say something particular, not to say anything in fact: they just make videos to show how good they are, how far and high they jump, how dangerous the jumps they do are -but they don’t care because they have big balls-. Their aim is not to share anything with people, not to bring them any tips, ideas, thoughts or inspiration; their aim is to get something from them, which is views, subsribers, and the consequent fame. Of course, they will say it is to „mark their progression“. Yeah, right!

2-The „Stop making videos, and go training instead“ attitude.

This position was certainly adopted by some traceurs in reaction to the previous attitude I just described. Anyway, it is not less stupid, it is even maybe more, as it comes from more experienced and older traceurs I would say. The problem of this position is that it considers every single video as a part of „videos“, which are all the same, pointless and bad, and turn away practicioners from training. These people have an opinion on „videos“ as a generic object, not on some types of videos. In consequence, they can’t consider any video to be beneficial for training as they look to all of them in the same way.

To the people defending this position, watching parkour videos as well as making them is a waste of time. The only thing that matters is training, and watching or making videos isn’t training. I would like to ask them how they discovered parkour, and how they learnt their first techniques?

Now, my thoughts about it.

As mentionned before in this interview, I discovered parkour through videos, and only through this. It is parkour videos -and not the Yamakasi movie- that made me want to start training parkour.

In addition, I was at that time living in the country, far from any wall or urban structure, and I knew no one practicing in the region I was living in. And so, for a long period, I learnt with -and only with- videos. I watched David Belle’s videos and reports, Timpisteur’s ones, and tried to figure out how they were doing each movement, and then went outside alone, to try it in safe situations, without height or any danger. And I learnt like this for 2 years. I learnt a lot of things technically speaking, just by observing what good traceurs were doing in their videos and trying to imitate them.

Later, even if I moved to other towns where I met traceurs in real life and could learn from it, I kept being inspired by videos, like the ones from Blane, Oniipk, Teghead, Joenkkoe, etc. I could find in it new ideas for my trainings, new techniques, or better ways to execute the ones I knew, ideas of conditionning exercises, a first look to efficiency being applied to longer runs, as examples between many others. I kept being feeded and inspired, intellectually and technically, by good parkour videos. I think it stayed my numer one inspiration source for a very long time.

Now, what are my motivations to shoot videos?

1-I love films, wether it is videos or cinema, I’ve always loved it.

2-It is a way to return the favor: videos is what taught me and inspired me for my trainings, it is only fair that I try to share my ideas and forms of training with people in return, with the hope to help and inspire some of them maybe.

3-It is another way -with conversations- to share my trainings with some of my friends that also train and that are living far from me (like Quentin or Max), and motivate, emulate, and inspire each others.

4-It is a way to pass on parkour and what I know of it, to pass on my way to understand and practice it to people, a way to passit on which is complementary to workshops, to the classes I had for example, and to training with people. It is surely not better than live transmission, but it has the important advantage to reach people all around the world, living very far from me, people that I could not reach in the everyday life reality. It is just another way -not the way- to spread parkour.

5-I make videos to share my views on some things in parkour and highlight some of these questions or problems: „Parkour, literally“ to highlight the lack of videos showing really efficient and long runs, which is supposed to be the purpose of parkour training; „Urban free fuck“ to alert young people, that didn’t know parkour history, about UF and their intentions and actions; „Spots are everywhere“ to say that we don’t need to look for the socalled spots to train, and that we can train anywhere with anything, as long as we look around us; „May movement can tell them what words cannot say“ to show how unexplored and under-exploited are the most famous spots, where everybody always comes to do the same jumps everybody did before, without even taking a look at the special architecture and unique structures it is made of.

6-I’ve always used videos as a training tool -even the ones that I consider to be artistic pieces-, not as something else separated from training. When I decide to work on a new video project, then it orientates my training in a certain direction and makes me train in a certain way. That leads me to focus more on some aspects of my training and „specialise“ myself for a period, and then to focus on new aspects on the next video project. I trained long runs and stamina while making „Parkour, literally (part 4)“; I trained short combinations of movements along with creativity and use of my imagination in „Spots are everywhere“; I trained little technical challenges and observation in „May movement tell them what words cannot say“. And when I film movements, I want the movements to be done the fastest and cleanest I can, so until I’m not certain to have done it the best I can, I keep repeating it while filming, and then watch what I’ve done on the camera, and try to analize what parts can be done faster or cleaner. That means I reapeat a lot every bit I film, just as if I were training without my camera. The camera doesn’t turn me away from training, in fact it helps me training, giving me motivations to repeat things, and visual informations about what I’m doing right or wrong.

7-I also make videos as artistic objects -just as what I make songs for-. I don’t just like training parkour, but also like filming, taking the time to choose the right angle, the good light, etc, I like editing, making the original soundtracks of my films. When I do videos, -as well as music, as well as parkour-, I consider myself as an artist. As artistic objects, I try to put some poetry in my videos, I don’t only show parkour movements in order to show parkour movements; I show certain parkour movements, in a certain way, filmed with a certain angle, edited in a certain way, with a certain music, and a certain concept behind -well, I’m trying to make art-.

 

 

Alex: We sometimes play a certain game where someone does a move and stops. The next person copies the exact move and combines it with one of its own. And so the combination continues. While repeating the line, you get a lot more fluid and it´s even a great game for warm up in small groups. Do you have special training methods for special purposes? Have you developed training methods yourself?

Naïm: The game you described looks fun and interesting! I will definintely try it.

I also do have special methods depending on the purposes I’m pursuing.

Here are some examples:

1-The most famous one, but it still works good to me: the lava game. We begin on any structure around us, and have to make a path through the spot, without ever touching the floor -which is full of lava, as everyone knows!-. This allows to work on creativity, little technical challenges to go from a structure to another, stamina as the path goes on, and it can be a soft way to warm up in a fun way.

2-I once played a game with Quentin, which was to find a spot with enough walls and structures in it, and then find 99 different ways to cross it from any point in the spot to its opposite. We also had a time challenge: we had to find, do, and film these 99 different ways to cross this space in 9,9 hours. It made us for on both stamina, flow, reaction time to find a lot of ideas in a limited time in a limited space, and before everything it made us work on creativity and imagination, because as the game went on, finding the ideas became harder and harder. That game leaded to the video „Exercices de style“ on my Youtube channel:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlsazzq5Q6k

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIHnlJ7KbTM

3-I also played a game alone, which was to do each and every parkour technique I could in a normal way and then right away in the reverse route. It made me work on my imagination, trying to figure out how to do this or that technique in reverse, and also on proprioception and on consciousness of every step of the techniques. That game also leaded to a video, „Get back“:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9h9r7Klqsk

4-Another game we sometimes play with friends is that one of us says „Follow me“, and then he starts running and jumping, crossing the spot in a way, and then in an other, with everyone behind following him. The rule is: it doesn’t matter if you use different techniques and do different jumps, the only thing that matters is that you follow the same path. So, everybody has to work on his reaction time to find out the appropriate technique to overcome an obstacle or to get through a gap, depending on his own body, abilities and knowledge.

These are examples.

And I’ve found recently some ideas, so I’m currently working on different training methods and games that are new to me. I can’t say much about it by now – I prefer to keep it as a surprise-, but 3 different videos (along with their descriptions) should come out to illustrate and share with people some of these trainings.

 

 

Alex: What is your view of the global development in Parkour?

Naïm: To be honest, I’m quite worried about the global development in parkour.

When we first look at it, we could feel happy that parkour now is practiced all over the world, by so many different people, that share the same passion together. And in fact, I’m happy about that part.

The problem is, when we look at it a bit closer, we can see how big is the misconception of it, how many people practice gymnastics and acrobatics and call it parkour, how many people practice only single jumps in a permanent quest of performance, and call it by the name of a discipline that has efficience as its only goal, how many people start making videos before even knowing how to do any parkour technique; and we can see competitions, the ones UF organized, and then Redbull, and now we can see competitions growing everywhere, practitioners being called athletes, and motivations moving from emancipation and having fun, to fame and money; we can see how many people share the same desire to commercialize parkour, using it as something we can make money from, whatever how and who we deal with: how many people sell t-shirts with their logo on it, and tell people that these shirts will make them better at parkour; and we can see stupid videogames like „Freerunning“; and we can see federations everywhere that try to state that parkour is -only- a sport, and should be considered as so; and we can see parkour-parks all around the world, which not only are incompatible with parkour, but are an insult to parkour and what it is made of (I wrote an article about it in french to explain my position); and the list goes on like this.

That teaches us that quantity doesn’t matter when you loose quality. Of course, parkour has grown really big in a really short time these last years, but what does actually remain from its essence in what it has been turned into? Are we even still talking about parkour, when we are talking about its development? I personally don’t see so much links anymore. Parkour is not something that should or even could be turned into merchandise and consumer items; it is not something that could be turned into any sort of competitions; it is not something that could be turned into video games, t-shirts, and clothes. It has a deep and beautiful essence that gives parkour a precise definition and nature, which protects it from being tarnished. If parkour is „parkour“, then the things I’m worrying about are something else, but certainly not parkour -in any way-. The only problem is that people keep calling it parkour, and actually believe it is.

Against this phenomenon -which not only happens to parkour but to any avant-garde cultural and artistic form, like hip-hop or skateboaring for examples-, we have to fight with any weapon we have: write articles about any of these concerns, make videos showing real parkour in its divers aspects, make interviews (like this one), write blogs like Blane’s one, talk to people outside, on the internet, anywhere, by any mean. We have to stay humble, and not dispise the newcomers that had been misleaded; at the contrary, we have to talk to them and tell them what we know, every time we can, and do it in a respectful and humble way. It is only by staying true to ourselves and our values -even in the way we tell it to people- that we can inspire them the same feelings and convince them.

 

 

Alex: What is your opinion about Red Bull´s Art of Motion?

Naïm: My opinion about Red Bull’s Art of Motion is the same opinion I have for any kind of competition in parkour or freerunning: I’m resolutely against it. I’ve always been, and will always be.

I will give 5 simple reasons to sum up my position:

1-Competition is not compatible with any of the principles of parkour .

2-Parkour/freerunning competition is extremely dangerous.

3-Competition in parkour/freerunning has been created by people who don’t practice parkour and don’t care at all about parkour and practicioners, but only about money .

4-Parkour/freerunning competition has been created against the parkour practicioners community opinion.

5-Through its sponsorships and that are behind, Parkour / freerunning competitions link parkour, which is a liberating activity, with capitalism, that leads to alienate people, making them dependent through work centrality, finance companies strategies, and advertisement and its permanent injunctions to buy things.

These 5 reasons are developed and explained in a text I wrote, which is called „5 good reasons not to participate in any parkour/freerunning championship or competition“, and is available at this adress:

http://www.facebook.com/notes/na%C3%AFm-linconsolable/5-good-reasons-not-to-participate-in-any-parkourfreerunning-championship-or-comp/10150672470690748

There are a lot of things we (traceurs) can do against it. A first thing would be not to participate in any parkour or freerunning competition ever. A second thing would be to inform people about the reasons why we don’t: it can be done with videos, articles, discussions, or whatever we judge useful to do it.

 

 

Alex: What do you percieve as helpful to get into „flow“ and what is preventing it?

Naïm: I would say that, as anything else, gaining flow in parkour comes with training. You just have to focus on this particular part, once you’ve made yourself sure to master the different techniques you’re trying to link together. I personaly began training movements combinations a long time ago. When I did, I began with trying to string together 2 jumps, and repeat these different 2 jumps combinations a lot of times until I felt I was linking them as fast as possible, and not loosing any control while doing it. I had to learn to use the precedent jump dynamism and put it into the next one, use my landing as a take off. Then, I tried the same thing with 3 jumps, and then 4, etc. I also included running parts between the different obstacles to work on stamina. And I just repeated these until it became more natural and spontaneous to me. Then, I started to work on longer runs, and tried to run faster, and come faster into the obstacles.

Improving your flow is not harder than any other part of your training; it is just that people are not usually used to really train it. They wait for it to come naturally as they master the different techniques. But as well as the techniques, flow is something you have to work on, precisely and widely, not just to try here and there until it hopefully comes by magic.

This interview is part of the archives. It was published on April 4th 2013 when I was doing an interview series for our PKLinz Blog.

 

Teige is an english Tracer that is known for his clean, efficient and quick movement style. Through Parkour he found his way into Track and Field and olympic weightlifting, a development that was encouraged by a chronic knee injury. Teige developed his own way of moevement being part of an english generation of tracers when a young Phil Doyle or Toby Segar started to train. His inspirational movement stands in contrast to the mainstream Youtube hype of going further and higher. Enjoy the interview!

P.S. you can find Teige ripping apart the Ninja Warrior UK Course in 2015 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UypBHqUBFY


DSC05951

Alex: Hi Teige, thank you a lot for this interview.

You have mentioned that training Parkour is not your number 1 priority anymore. You have layed the focus on weightlifting, sprinting and athletics in general. Injuries have played a certain role in that development.

Can you explain us how you found your way to what you currently do through Parkour?

 

Teige: I didn’t get truly involved in athletics or any sports when I was younger, so Parkour has been very valuable for me. It was a chaotic journey in to sport: jumping off the school roof with my friends, injuring my knees; then spending a lot of time on internet forums (UF, pk.net) as I was trying to get back to training. For a few years I was trying to manage my tendinosis, but I was also young and excitable, and wanted to make cool videos with my friends.

I became a bit bored and frustrated with what I was doing – I was falling in to the trap of ‘conquering moves’ and matching my friends (my friends being people like Phil who were fearless and precise) – and so I started training a little differently. I abandoned long, busy ‘jams’; I learnt some basic climbing techniques from Bobby and started looking for large routes with climbs or descents to train with people like Bob & Rupert. Strength training was very important at that time for me and my friends.

Parkour took a back-seat to strength training perhaps due to my studies – a workout is easier to get done if you’re busy than devoting days to Parkour, and I also reasoned that strength detrains faster than Parkour skills (I’ve no idea whether it actually does!). Thinking about Parkour and MéthodeNaturelle (MN) got me interested in sprinting and swimming – when I started university I joined a sprint group and improved my swimming a lot. My friends in London Bobby and Kristian were becoming very serious about weightlifting (the sport), to get strong and increase their jump. I was interested for the same reasons, and partly because they are good friends and I want to share in what they do, so I tried to find somewhere to train weightlifting for more than a year before I was able to establish a place myself at my university in November 2012.

As it turns out, weightlifting and sprinting are very enjoyable and rewarding sports in their own rights; they might be more abstract than Parkour, but they are more disciplined and there is much to learn from doing these competitive sports. So although my focus is on these sports just now, I’m feeding the lessons about physical training back to Parkour, I’ve not yet abandoned it!
Alex: When you were still training Parkour more actively, how important was strength training and conditioning for you and what purpose did it serve?

Teige: The first time I went to see my doctor about ‘jumper’s knee’ she told me I had very skinny legs, and needed to build some muscle! So like most Parkour guys back then I was doing pistol squats at school every day – me and another kid at school used to do pullups and pistols (he managed 40+ per leg) every lunch.

That helped my Parkour quite a lot, so from early on I knew I needed to get stronger, I just didn’t have the best methods. When some new guys in my town, Dan & Luke, started Parkour, I coerced them into doing ‘hell nights’ inspired by Blane: a lot of pullups, traverses, pressups, and even squats and shoulder press with stones and tyres we found or stole from local council storage. There was no program, but it still helped all of us. We dropped the hell nights, but our regular pullups and squats with my cheap weights in my tiny bedroom remained an essential part of our Parkour training, we avoided or managed overuse injuries better, and improved our jumps and climbing steadily, especially the new guys.

 

Alex: You have a very natural approach to Parkour. How important is connecting movement to you and what were you aiming for with your Parkour training?

Teige: I wasn’t very good or brave with big or dangerous moves, or with flips (trying to match my friends was killing me), so I needed to find some other way to be satisfied with what I was spending all my time doing! I enjoyed Erwan’s posts on pk.net about MN, and the old footage of Belle’s raw style, and I also enjoy fantasizing about heroics and vigilantism (I can’t help it!), so covering ground became the most enjoyable aspect of Parkour for me.

When I was protecting my sore knees in the early days, it was necessary to move gently and carry momentum, to try to get some enjoyment out of moving smoothly – and when my legs became stronger and healthier, I could train what really interested me: aesthetic ‘flow’ has never been important to me, but covering distance has. Maybe they just happen to correlate since people often used to talk to me about ‘flow’. Protecting my knees influenced my ‘style’ (more correctly, choices), the pain made me think hard about how I might descend something; I couldn’t just take the height drop, so I practiced conservative ways to dismount.

 

Alex: What is your opinion on Parkour related strength training? Is it a must?

Teige: I think anyone doing Parkour ought to be doing some strength training. People can do what they like of course, but anyone training with me will definitely do some strength training. Parkour is harsh on a person’s body, and can lack discipline/routine. It’s very difficult to continue making good progress without any injuries in any sport without some strength training, and I think this is especially true for Parkour, where we shift our own bodyweight in powerful movements and take a lot of impacts.

 

Alex: How does weight lifting benefit ones own abilities in Parkour?

Teige: Lifting weights is a very convenient form of strength training and probably the best way to train strength, since you can choose a particular weight and do full-body movements to strengthen your legs and back more than you could without weights. If you squat you can expect to jump a little further and to take impacts better, avoiding injury. If you do pullups you can expect to climb up walls faster and more easily. In general, if you lift weights to get stronger you can expect to be more in command of your body and ready to move in unconventional ways.

Most Parkour movements, jumping or vaulting a large distance, kicking up a high wall, involve a lot of power and speed, and lifting weights is a good and safe way to develop power.

 

Alex: How would you recommend someone the start of lifting weights as a mean of improving Parkour?

Teige: It depends a little on their current strength and mobility, but beginners will improve even from totally disorganized training. The important thing is to perform the exercises right and get good habits – it will help later. A beginner could find a gym (or get their own equipment) to squat and do (weighted) pullups two or three times a week; that alone would help their Parkour, and they can add other exercises to ‘prehab’ their shoulders or to grow big biceps, whatever you like.

There are a lot of online resources for beginners, but basically just do a few sets of a few reps and keep the workout to about an hour maximum, beginners make fast progress.

 

Alex: Would you say that 100m sprinters are in certain ways much more efficient than the typical Parkour practitioner, since running short and flat distances is much more likely in an emergency situation than climbing up walls or jumping over waist-high obstacles?

Teige: It’s hard to imagine all the likely emergency situations. In reality, if we care so much about being useful in an emergency we’d probably all apply to work in the emergency services as firefighters, mountain rescue, paramedics etc (where they drive vehicles). So on to self-preservation instead. A sprinter could chase you down in most places: it can be hard to quickly find opportunities to use our Parkour skills under pressure, and climbing something gives plenty of time for someone to grab you.

As for versatility, Parkour offers so much more than elite forward speed. Unless you are constantly starting fights, situations more common than a chase where Parkour comes in handy are e.g. climbing a tree to get some kids’ frisbee/football, dismounting from a bridge so as not to miss your train (true story), impressing your friends… having fun!

As a Parkour practitioner you should learn to sprint properly, I think, but a good Parkour guy should be much more versatile and get more daily-life carryover from his sport than a good sprinter. Sprinting is abstract, focused on the fine details of acceleration and stride; whereas Parkour allows us to explore our surroundings in many ways: useful mental preparation should we ever need to buck convention for our own good in a city.

Maybe you shouldn’t start a fight with a sprinter, they’ll chase you down 9 times out of 10; but overall Parkour offers much more to your daily life, in my opinion, especially since you can mold it to your own interests, hopes and fears. Having said that, sprinters with decent coordination would make great traceurs! It is a shame that a lot of great traceurs can’t even run well, I’d say given how tiring it is to climb a wall, traceurs would benefit from practicing 200 – 400m running, probably the most torturous distance to run, but it would teach efficient striding and train them to endure a high intensity.

 

Alex: Considering you might train specifically Parkour again one day (as you mentioned) what will your training look like?

Teige: I do some standing jumps occasionally if my gym is closed for a holiday. 😉 This summer I’m hoping to train some fun routes, eat up the ground and mash up walls! I will split my Parkour days: some days I will have short sessions doing some jumps separately and try to be precise; other days I will train routes, these are the creative and the physically challenging days. Most other days I’ll be lifting weights!

 

Alex: Is there anything you still want to say or add?

Teige: Parkour is a great sport, and I think it’s enhanced by outward-looking. Unless you’re training to win the freerunning championships, Parkour is a very free format and you can benefit so much more by taking influence from other established sports like athletics and climbing. That requires a bit of humility and patience but there’s less new material and skills coming from inside Parkour than already exists outside of Parkour.

I encourage every traceur to explore other sports so they can enjoy applying new skills to their Parkour, and so they can gain an idea about programming their training – weightlifting is great for this because there’s a lot of planning.

Parkour guys have some advantages when they take up new sports, we have relatively good body awareness and are used to visualizing tasks – so never take for granted your chaotic journey in to sports if it was through Parkour. Do try to carve your own path if you become unsatisfied with what you are doing in Parkour!

Thanks for being interested in my opinions; I hope some nutters had fun reading.

 

 

This interview is part of the archives. It was published in 3 parts betweenApril 14th and 28th 2013 when I was doing an interview series for our PKLinz Blog.

 

At the time this interview was done Adam Dunlap and Take Flight were subject of many discussions in the world wide Parkour community. On the one hand there was the release of a concept called “Parkour City” (by David Belle and Take Flight) a sort of Parkour park that introduced a competition aspect and on the other hand Adam had on numerous occasions backed his statements and his partly controversial views with his close relationship to David Belle. In this interview that also includes some quite critical questions Adam took the time and effort to present his view of things. If one remembers, there were many different upset parties of Parkour related people blaming Adam for a variety of things in public. The interview starts slowly with some rather general questions about Parkour and how he got into it and slowly touches the more fragile topics.

 

The interview was released in 3 parts on the PKLinz Blog as it was big and each part had a little German introduction to it. Below you will find the parts all in one but still with the German introductions.

 

Enjoy the read and beware that the interview ws taken in 2013, some things, views or facts might have changed.

 

 

Adam Dunlap, Gründer von Take Flight, “der offiziellen Bekleidungslinie für Parkour” (laut eigener Angabe), hat in letzter Zeit für viel Diskussionsstoff gesorgt. Einerseits mit dem Konzept Parkour City und andererseits durch seine Ansichten von Parkour die er gerne auf David Belle stützt. Seine enge Beziehung zu David Belle definiert seine Auffassung von Parkour und in diesem ausführlichen Interview hat er sich unseren teils kritischen Fragen gestellt. In diesem Ersten von mehreren Teilen des Interviews steigen wir mit ein paar persönlichen Fragen zu Adams Lebensumständen ein und schließen mit Fragen zu seiner Beziehung zu David Belle ab.

Viel Spaß mit dem Interview!

 

 

We Trace: Hi Adam first off, thank you for your time!

Adam: Absolutely. You’re welcome. The pleasure is mine 🙂

 

We Trace(CQ): When and how did you start training Parkour? How much time do you invest in your training at the moment?

Adam: I first started “Parkour” (emphasis on the quotations. I wasn’t doing Parkour, but I was trying lol!) in March/April 2006. I saw the movie scene from B13 and a couple other videos (there weren’t that many online at this time), and I decided I wanted that physicality and capability. So I began training. I remember my first “training” session. I left the house in a sprint and jumped over everything I could find. About 100 yards away I was exhausted and out of breath, so I stopped and rested. Then a minute later I set off again in another full sprint. Lol! That’s what I thought Parkour was! But you can’t really blame me. After all, that’s what you see going on in B13 – David just doesn’t stop. So I was just emulating it lol.

Since then my training has been a really interesting evolution. Skipping all the history and bringing us to present day, I now train 2 hours a day, really intensely, “Go, go, go.” I train in the Parkour method as David passed to me and as I understand it. Sometimes if I have physical issues (for example, currently I’m overcoming from a sprained ankle) then I modify my training a bit and focus more on the physical conditioning / rehab which relies on a different approach but still equally intense.

 

We Trace(CQ): What do you think is your role in the whole Parkour movement? What do you think what influence you have had on the global Parkour scene so far?

Adam: I don’t know if I have a role. In some ways I feel boxed into one though. I built Take Flight, and a lot of people look up to that and are inspired by it. So I feel I have an obligation to continue running that. And not only are people inspired by it, but we provide a great product that people love. Plus now it’s also providing for Traceurs through our endorsements which have financial compensation. So my role is to keep my promises to all those customers and partners, and to continue to work to build something that is lasting and is admirable, and something that continues to support those who believe in me and the company and who have invested their time and energy in it as well.

Another role I have is to share David’s vision of Parkour with the world. This role wasn’t appointed to me by David, it’s just something I feel I have an obligation to do. Not many in the world have had the chance to train, learn, and get to know David the way I have. All the Parkour aside, the Belle’s are family to me. We’re that close. And a lot of people want to know the insights I have from that experience. Because of David’s history I think people will want to hear that insight for many years to come. Sharing that is another role you could say I fill.

Lastly, combining all that together (Take Flight, David, my history etc), I see a role for me as being a model to show how you can stay true to yourself and still be successful. The way I live is to follow my convictions, and money hasn’t changed me and it never will. You can’t “buy me” as some would call it. So there are some doubts out there about Take Flight and our vision and what we are doing and whether it’s “profiteering” or what not. So boil it all down and my role is to reassure people in the faith they have in us and say, “Look, it’s not like what the rumor mill is trying to tell you. We can be a large and influential company that still has the right heart and perspective, and that is what we are! And it’s what we will continue to be.” We don’t do it for the profit. We do it for the principles. And being an example for that is important to me because it affects a lot of people in a positive way, and I’m committed to seeing that through.

Ahhh one more thing I just thought of. What we have at Take Flight through our method, heart and vision, is the opportunity to bring product innovation! So I see my role in the Parkour world as also being the leader in the product development for our discipline. We’re working on shoes, and some amazing pants and a few other products as well. That product initiative is not something anyone else in the Parkour world is positioned to take on for many reasons – financial limitations, expertise, time wise, connections etc. So I see another role for me as being a leader in bringing the Parkour world the products they want. Shoes made for our discipline is one example, and there are many other product innovations as well that I will be behind.

All that being said, I wouldn’t call any of those “roles.” They are more just like what I am in a position to do. I never planned any of this. It just is what it is and I’m seeing it through.

Regarding what influence I have already had? Depends where you go. I started the Revolution Parkour gym which supports a thriving Parkour community. So in my home town I’ve had a lot of influence. I’m also the man behind brining David to social media which now has 140,000 followers across the channels. Add those into what Take Flight has done and how many people that has touched, and I’d say I’ve probably had a big influence. But exactly what and how? Well, that probably depends who you ask.

 

We Trace(CQ): What is your profession and how do you make your living?

Adam: Oh gosh, ummm…. well we have a couple misconceptions in that question. First, my profession. I don’t really have one. Or rather it keeps training. First I was a Traceur who got endorsements and trained and did some modeling and acting. During this time I was also delivering pizza so that was my “profession” if you will. That was in 2007-2008. Then in early 2008 I founded Revolution Parkour and became a Parkour instructor. During this time I was also a part-time trainer at another gym. Within that year I founded Take Flight which I guess then made me some sort of a serial entrepreneur. Then when I moved to France  I considered myself retired lol.

Point is, my profession keeps changing. Currently I run Take Flight, I teach Parkour from time to time, and I run training classes for a fencing academy (non-Parkour related training). I also have some pending commercial projects with David that we’re hoping to do. So I guess I’d call myself….maybe a freelance professional/Traceur that is just trying to make it in the world just like anyone else.

Second misconception: me making a living. Thing is, I don’t really make a living. I kind of just lived on borrowed money. I don’t get paid for the work I’m doing for Take Flight, and my work for David has been out of friendship, and I haven’t made anything from that either. I usually tell people that are close to me, “If you work part time at McDonald’s you make more than me,” and that’s absolutely true. I think with some projects we have coming up that will change soon, but for now I’m content and happy with what I’m doing. I feed off creativity, and Take Flight and David give me my creative outlook so that keeps me going.

 

We Trace(CQ): You are living in the US if we got that right. How often do you visit other countries and how often do you get to exchange yourself with other opinions?

Adam: I’m actually kind of in between locations right now. As of mid-February I officially ended 2 years spent traveling back and forth between the US and France. The majority of that time I spent living in France so I consider myself as technically living there for that time. Now I am in the States, but I’ve only been here planted for like 6 weeks! And I might be off again in a few more. I have no official residence, and my future is uncertain. So that takes care of where I’m “living.” Again, I’m in between.

Regarding traveling, I’m not much of a traveler because I don’t like it that much. I prefer to stay in one place where all my friends and family are. I’ll travel for work, of if I’m invited somewhere, but other than that I prefer and intend to stay put.

I associate with other opinions all the time through the internet. In the Parkour context I am quite aware of almost all of them, and they all intrigue me. I keep pretty good tabs on all the communities around the world, and I like seeing other ideas and perspectives.

 

We Trace(CQ): Relating to other interviews you stated that you act as David Belle´s brand manager. Could you tell us what your duties and responsibilities as David´s brand manager are? What decisions are you taking for him?

Adam: David is a tricky one. Working with him in a business context is like trying to play checkers with a tiger. So, yes, I have responsibilities. But at the same time I don’t because trying to direct David’s energy in the way a typical brand manager would do is not, shall we say, possible? In any case, at the moment I manage his clothing brand which I also produced. I also manage his social media, his website, and I manage and pursue endorsements for him.

I don’t make any decisions for David. David always makes his own decisions about everything. All you can ever do with David is present ideas and see what he thinks. That can be frustrating from a business perspective, but once you understand David then it’s simple because that’s just what it is. You are just there to kind of help him and then you step back. When it comes down to it I always tell him, “You’re the boss.” For the most part I just see myself as a really good friend who compliments him in many ways because of my talents. Because of that I can bring a level of focus and insight to him and his career that he wouldn’t have without me. Brand Manager is the title I role with because it’s the most applicable, but it some contexts it may or may not be the best title.

 

We Trace(CQ): How did you get to meet David Belle and how did you become his brand manager?

Adam: Meeting David and becoming his brand manager were two completely different things. In October 2009 I flew to France to meet David for the first time and discuss him endorsing Take Flight, which he agreed to. This trip was coordinated by a man named Guy Janodet who was working pretty much as David’s manager at the time. A year and a half later in March 2011, I moved to France to work with David on various projects (Take Flight was one of them). The way I thought about it was, “Hey look Adam, you want to work with David, right? Well you’re going to have to do two things then: #1. You’re going to have to learn French, and #2. You’re going to have to train with David and get to know him on a personal level.” So moving to France was the logical step. At the time the trip was also coordinated through Guy Janodet. In a very sad turn of events, however, Guy passed away just a few weeks after I arrived. Somehow I stepped into Guy’s role after that. That’s pretty much it. David has a very small, tight circle of friends, and you can’t break into it unless you know him or unless you’re really close with someone who is really close with him. Guy had always spoken highly of me so the timing was serendipitous, and it all kind of worked out the way it did.

 

We Trace(CQ): Can you tell us if David himself is posting on youtube/facebook/twitter or is that your job as his brand manager? 

Adam: Everything that is posted on David’s channels comes from him. Everything. He has done three Twitter interviews and he answered every question. In a case like that, I was with him every time. I interpreted the questions for him and he answered the ones he wanted to and I’d translate/scribe the answers back into English. It was all him. Almost all the posts on his Facebook were also typed by me, but, again, they were all, word for word, written by David. In general, if he isn’t the one typing/posting it (which he does do from time to time), he sends me a text and says, “Adam, I want to post this!” so I do. It’s the same with the videos on his YouTube. All the videos we have launched are old. I suggested we started posting them. He agreed, and whenever we publish one I ask him to give some comments on it and he gives them. Everything is 100% from him.

David doesn’t use or like the internet the way the younger generations does, so when I’m not in the same city as him he won’t post as much. That’s just how he is. He’s the poster, I encourage him endlessly, and sometimes I get through and that’s when you see a post. We make a good team in that way.

PART 2 OF THE RELEASE

Der zweite Teil des Interviews mit Adam Dunlap beschäftigt sich mit Fragen zu David Belle, zum Konzept Parkour City (wobei Adam unter anderem einer der Initiatoren ist), sowie mit der Frage nach Adams Meinung zu Competition (konkret auch die North American Parkour Championships). Ein gewisses Augenmerk wird auf die geschäftliche Beziehung Adams zu David gelegt, wobei auch hinterfragt werden soll inwieweit Adam sich als Repräsentant David Belle´s versteht.

Viel Spaß mit Teil 2 des Interviews!

 

Dunlap

We Trace(CQ): Do you see yourself as a messenger of David´s views and opinions?

Adam: No, I do not see myself as a messenger of David’s views and opinions. I do think that I understand David’s views and opinions better than possibly anyone, and because of that I speak to them. But I’m not his messenger in any way, now has he asked me to be such. I only give a testament to what I know and understand. Until David publicly says, “Adam speaks for me on this issue,” then my words need to be taken as separate from David, although as coming from someone who knows David as a good friend / family member.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): What would you do if David one day decided someone else should manage his business?

Adam: I’d respect that and support it as long as it wasn’t someone I thought was trying to use David. You can’t cage David. He’s going to do what he wants. Once you figure that out, the only thing left to do is step back and respect his decisions. That’s what good family and friends do anyway for anyone, but it’s even more true with how we work with David. At this point in time knowing who David is and how he works, it would literally blow my mind if he asked someone else to do the job I’m doing. There simply isn’t anyone else in his inner circle that could do what I do. So unless he goes to a really corporate level like CAA or something then there is no one. But you never know. He has an agent well who handles all his contractual things, so there are other people “around,” but they aren’t quite “around,” if that makes any sense. For now, as I said, in many ways I’m just a good friend that looks out for David and has helped established things. Because I know and understand David so well, he trusts me and we make a good team. If one day David decides he wants someone else to do what I do, then I’d graciously step aside. Unless, as I said, it was clearly someone who I felt was not right and/or had other intentions besides David’s best interests. If that happened then I’d talk to David’s family about the issue and express my concerns before stepping aside.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): Is David trying to get himself involved more in the international Parkour scene at the moment?

Adam: I don’t know all of David’s intentions, actions, and motives, so I can’t and I won’t speak on his behalf for that. From what I know, though? I’d say he’s not being proactive about it, but he is going about becoming more involved in subtle ways. Knowing David, I don’t think there is a lot of draw for him to be a prominent figure. First, he doesn’t like being in front of people. He is very shy and quiet in that way. People see him in a big film and they don’t understand that side of him. So it has led to a lot of misconceptions about his actions the “why” behind his actions. He makes his appearances when he feels it is right, but on the grand scale he’s not the type of person who will proactively take steps to be involved on a grand scale.

People look to David as a leader, which he is. But he leads by example and by being himself – the example -, not by trying to be or do what other people expect him to be or do. He’s turning 40 this month and he has a wife and son now. He spent the first 30-odd years of his life literally running and jumping around the world, because he loved it, never expecting to Parkour to become as big as it has. He wants to slow down now and enjoy life and find the peace and quiet. If he was a martial arts master from another century people would understand that. As it is, everyone expects him to be a star and a public figure. He has some other plans to teach Parkour and do things of this nature, and he has a few films in the works and other projects which will lead to him being visible than he has in the last few years. But in general I see him as taking things at a much slower pace and doing things on a much quieter level. That’s just who he is.

 

 

We Trace: Reading your previous interviews and Blog entries you often state that asking David Belle before doing something (like setting up a clothing company) would be the right approach. Two questions arise when thinking of it:

  1. a) What is your opinion when someone says that “Parkour has by far exceeded its creators and can impossibly be controlled by one or a few people anymore? It has its own life and everyone practicing it is an equal part. Thus no one has control over Parkour”.

Adam: I don’t agree with that. People who say that, don’t understand Parkour. Yes, Parkour has far exceeded the vision of its creator in many ways. But it many ways it’s still the same. David is still the creator, and the fact that Parkour exploded internationally doesn’t now mean that some 16 year old self-taught practitioner has as much right to the word as David. David isn’t some power hungry guy that wants to control everything, but he is, again, the creator of Parkour. People try to hide that fact or shove it under the rug in various ways with false history and/or by saying,  “I didn’t see David do anything for 5 years so he lost that right to Parkour, blah blah blah.” All that is simply a bunch of talk from a bunch of self-righteous Traceurs with big egos who think they are hot stuff because they can jump from a few meters or do a back flip. They clearly have no understanding of what Parkour by David Belle is and how good David was. Don’t give me this crap about how Parkour belongs to everyone. It doesn’t and it never will.

To give you some more insight on this from David, I’ve talked to David about this and his answer is this (I’ll do my best to quote him – he has explained this to me on multiple occasions):

“If someone owns a car and leaves it in their driveway, do other people have a right to take that car and drive it? Of course not. Now what if the owner doesn’t drive it for a year? Do people then have the right to take that person’s car and drive it? No. What if he doesn’t drive it for 10 years? Do they then have the right to take it from him and drive it? No. That is how Parkour is. And some people think that just because I’ve kept to myself, I’ve somehow lost my right to Parkour. I haven’t. It’s still my car.”

David is the creator of Parkour and that’s that. It doesn’t matter how big Parkour is or how big Parkour becomes. It doesn’t matter the size or reach, it’s all irrelevant. Now, there are some places where the community can work together and advance things together without David. Like, for example, have a Parkour film festival. That’s cool! Go ahead and do that. David likes watching videos, so make some great videos and he will be proud. Again, David doesn’t want to control Parkour like some dictator. He has made Parkour and given it to the world and it brings him joy to see people doing it. But when people think that they’ve been doing Parkour for 5 years and they can jump from 3 meters or whatever, and that gives them the right to rewrite the definition of Parkour or say what Parkour is etc etc? C’mon mec. You have no idea. To me, there are certain things that will never change and to which David will always have the right to. One of those things is the definition of Parkour. Don’t tell me that “we” or “the community” can redefine Parkour. What David says Parkour is, goes. End of story. It’s his car. Quit trying to steal it and justify your actions so you can drive around in it and pick up chicks.

You’re welcome to follow your own path and do whatever you want, and call it whatever you want. But don’t forget who made the key and don’t be prideful enough to think that you are anyone with any authority just because you do some kong vaults or some big jumps. Before the majority of the modern day Parkour world was born, David was doing bigger jumps than even today’s best Traceurs have ever done. Now it’s ilke we have a bunch of mini Cortez’s that have arrived on the banks of the New World claiming they are “leaders in the community.” You’re not, and you don’t have any authority on the larger issues. You need a big does in humility if you think you do.

We Trace: b) If someone would like to contact David in order to sort out some things what is the best way to do so?

Adam: Call him on his cell phone. If he knows your number he will pick up 🙂

 

 

We Trace(CQ): David was never really involved in the global Parkour community. It seems like a lot of important questions were not answered by him. The lacking clarity has already lead to a lot of confusion all these years. Do you think David is aware of his impact splitting the community when he misses to make clear statements?

Adam: David’s statements have always been clear. Compare him to all the other ancients, and he is the only one who has never changed. The confusion lies in people like UF, Parkour Generations, the Yamakasi, and many others who have changed their stories, and/or distorted Parkour in various ways. That has filtered down, and now lots of people are complicit it perpetuating those distortions without knowing it. Even I was complicit in sharing false idea when I first got started! I didn’t know any better! Now I do know better, and I take a stand for the truth. That offends a lot of people that have money riding on false beliefs, and I’ll give that context by saying I don’t think anyone is perpetuating their false beliefs maliciously. As I was long ago, they just don’t know any better. Pride and ego get added to that as well and it makes it a whole lot worse, but that’s just life. In any case, it has led us here to a lot of confusion, and a lot of personal issues which still enforce the confusion.

Going back to David’s story, we have a few problems. First, beliefs shape perceptions, and in many cases people didn’t hear the whole story or the context of the stories David told. So for many, figuring out what Parkour was, was like reading a book expecting it to have a certain message, nut then not finishing the book and yet still proclaiming the message they thought it was going to have. Clearly there are problems with that approach. That’s how Parkour has been. People simply should have said, “We don’t know all the answers yet. Here is what we think we have figured out.” Instead, people saw one video or one interview and said, “I know what Parkour is!” and it screwed up a lot of things up. Don’t blame David for that.

Read the literature, watch the interviews, and study the movement, and you’ll see that everything is there, all the questions are answered, for those with an open mind to see it. One of the reasons David doesn’t do interviews is because he is tired of them. He has told me on multiple occasions, “Why do people keep asking for interviews? I have already answered all the questions!” I know it has been tricky to get the full story over the years, but the information is out there for those who want to know. The confusion is not David’s fault. It’s the fault of those who didn’t search enough or believed someone who wasn’t a good endorser of the discipline.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): In your blog you wrote about Parkour competition models. Could you please explain what’s in your opinion the difference between “the first person to the finish line” and “the fastest person” models? And why is ‘the first person to the finish line’ model negated?

Adam: Those seem like the same models to me. The fastest person always finishes first, right? That’s kind of the point. Am I missing something?

Maybe you mean a time trail versus a versus model? I still think it’s the same. A versus model would be cooler though, then you can see people moving at the same time 🙂

 

 

We Trace: What do you think of the North American Parkour Championships?

Adam: I didn’t watch it. I didn’t like the name – I thought it was too authoritative. And I didn’t like their ‘monster truck’ publicity video. It told me that this event wasn’t being done with the right heart. Because of those two things I didn’t pay any attention to it. From what I’ve heard, it seemed to be a very positive and unifying event for a lot of people. I’m glad people felt that way.

On another note, some people recently made a video titled “Adam Dunlap” and it had a bunch of footage from the gym that hosted that event. The video was great. So since then my admiration for that gym has jumped up a few points lol 🙂

 

 

We Trace: When you hear people’s opinions who are totally against artificial training places for Parkour (Parkour parks especially) as they see Parkour as a way of handling ones environment and adapting ones movement to the environment (not vice versa). How would you argue to the favour of a concept like “Parkour City”?

Adam: Naim recently stated this – he didn’t agree with Parkour parts. Although I disagree with him, I respect his view as I respect all opinions. In this case a park like Parkour City is merely a place to call our own. It’s an environment constructed to allow Traceurs to train in a place where they can practice all the techniques in one location without being bothered by society and told, “Get down from there,” “You can’t do that,” “Quit acting like kids,” etc etc. Parkour is a training method, and although you can train in any environment, having a place that can optimize your training as a park would is great too. As I understand it, this is David’s view too which is why he designed Parkour City.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): How likely do you think is the realization of the concept “Parkour City” at this point?

Adam: We just need something like 3 million dollars. Once we have that the rest will take care of itself. It’s really just a matter of people getting behind the project. Whether that’s through a fundraiser, or getting everyone to buy a Take Flight t-shirt so we can fund it, either way one day it will happen. I’m sure of it. When and where? That’s the only question.

 

adam

PART 3 OF THE RELEASE

Der dritte und letzte Teil des Interviews mit Adam Dunlap widmet sich wieder generelleren Fragen, wobei sein ausführliches Schlussstatement ein gutes Bild vermittelt wie er sich eigentlich selbst sieht. Summa Summarum war es ein interessantes Interview mit einer umstrittenen Persönlichkeit der Szene. An dieser Stelle danke an Adam für die Möglichkeit des Interviews und möge sich jeder selbst sein Bild darüber machen welche Schlüsse aus dem Interview gezogen werden können.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): What are your idols when it comes to Parkour? (Not your top 5 traceurs as in your blog but rather the characters with the most influence on you)

Adam: David Belle and Raymond Belle. Those are the two I look up to. Raymond’s not really a Traceur per se since he came before David/Parkour/Tracers, but without getting into all the history and the discussion, Raymond is my model for being a warrior. David has said before that compared to his father he is just a kid playing, and I’ve heard many stories from David and Monique and others about Raymond. Knowing what I know, I look at the world’s best Traceurs today none of which compare to David in his prime – none of them, not one – and I say, “If David was a kid compared to his father, how much more so are we all just kids trying to grapple and understand something that is beyond us?”

David, however, is also a warrior, and since I never met Raymond, David also takes that place of inspiration for me since I have visually seen the force behind David. Raymond becomes the reference, and David becomes the model which makes me realize how incredible Raymond was. But they are both true warriors and incredible in their own rights.

Different from Raymond, David is my model of a Traceur. David has done jumps that no one else in the world has done. And he has done them easily. In my mind he is the best Traceur ever and no one will ever be as good. I know how he trained, and no one trains like that and I doubt anyone ever will. That’s what gives me the confidence to say that. For some reason I’ve always been drawn to that aspect of David, and ever since I began I always aspire to move and jump like David.

No question about it, the Belles are my idols from the Parkour perspective.

 

 

We Trace: What is your biggest achievement so far? What are you proud of the most?

Adam: Do you mean in Parkour? Or in like the larger context of Parkour and my endeavors, Take Flight etc? Either way, I have a really simple answer. I did a 12 foot jump which I was really happy about : )

I don’t do things for other people. I mean that in the context of, I don’t do things for the purpose of showing them off or being admired. I often will sacrifice and spend time and money and energy to build something and to help others. I did this with Revolution Parkour and I’ve done this with Take Flight. But as I said, I never planned any of that. It’s just kind of what happened. So I think a lot of people may look at what I’ve done/do say, “Wow, that’s great what you’ve done! Congratulations! Aren’t you proud?!” And even I look at it sometimes and say, “Woa, Adam, that’s pretty cool. You’ve done a lot in the last 5 years.” But I never intend to do any of that, so it’s kind of just is what it is. That’s why something as simple as a 12 foot jump would be the thing I’m the most proud of. I always intended to do that. And when I do a 13 foot jump that will be my proudest moment.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): Does it bother you that there is no way for you to control what is happening with Parkour and how the development is going on?

Adam: Not at all. I mean, why would it bother me? That’s life. Each person is going to follow their own path and do what they feel is best for them. That’s human nature and it doesn’t bother me that I can’t control that. I mean, I can’t even control what my students do in a class lol! Why would it bother me that people around the world are doing things I wouldn’t do? It doesn’t.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): What do you think of Urban Freeflow in general? What is the main difference that distinguishes Take Flight from former Urban Freeflow? (except David´s support of course)

Adam: I don’t have any thoughts on Urban Freeflow. As far as I know Urban Freeflow is gone. Paul Corkey has moved on to Flexdem at least for the time being. So there’s really nothing to think about them. They are in the past.

When you look at something – a company, organization, a movement etc – you have to look at the heart of that object. The heart usually resides in the founder. The founder of UF was EZ, Paul Corkey. The heart of TF is me, Adam Dunlap. So that’s the major difference. But I’ve never met EZ so I don’t know exactly what those differences are. I also don’t know what his vision was for his company, so that is all the more reason why I can’t speak to the differences between Urban Freeflow and Take Flight. All I can speak to is what Take Flight does and we do things.

Regarding Take Flight, first, we can’t overlook David. That’s a foundation that at the very least shows the heart of the organization. I ask you, what other company in the world that is using Parkour in a business context has gone as far as I have to meet David, earn his friendship, and ask to use Parkour? I can only think of one other group – Parkour Paris. Parkour Generations would be the third, but Stephane betrayed David’s trust and endorsement when he joined forces with the Yamakasi. So that’s done. That leaves us with Parkour Paris and Take Flight, and besides us I can’t think of anyone else that has gone the distance and stayed true. Ah one more, Founcan. He’s the man 🙂 But that’s a bit different since he doesn’t use the word Parkour. Anyway, people want to overlook my friendship with David and say, “What else makes you different?” But the “David Belle Factor” is the most important difference!! That should be enough for people to say, “Woa. Respect. You are guys are different, and even if I know nothing else I will give you the benefit of the doubt because of that.” That shows a purity of heart, direction, and vision that no other organization in the Parkour world of our prominence has today.

As fate would have it, however, the ‘David Belle Factor’ is not the only thing that distinguishes us from other organizations past and present. What makes Take Flight different is we operate as a mission driven not-for-profit. We of course need money to function, but we don’t pursue money, and as I’ve said, I don’t get paid for my work with the company which is not something I see any other company heads doing in the Parkour world at this time. Our vision at Take Flight is to grow together with our athletes, partners, and supporters, in order to support others and work collaboratively with Traceurs around the world in a humble, supportive, and inspiring fashion. We intend to do this in order to provide a business stability to the Parkour world and help the Parkour community advance in various ways as I mentioned before (innovation, inspiration, financial support, and other methods), and in the ways that they want most. I see us as a community run company, and that’s the focus I want to keep at Take Flight.

Backing that up, and bringing us back to what makes us difference, is me, Adam Dunlap. If you look at my history you’ll see clearly where that vision comes from. When I started doing Parkour, I was doing it for me and only for me. It was a personal discipline way before there was any of this branding, business, commercial, publicity stuff. I remember shunning an offer to do a newspaper interview with my school because I didn’t want any involvement in the commercialism of Parkour in any way! That’s how committed I was to keeping the discipline only as a personal training method! I just wanted to do Parkour and help it keep it’s heart. What changed was my realization that Parkour was going to go global whether I was involved or not. And I realized that I could either sit back and let people and companies do what they wanted with Parkour, or I could be a part of that and help guide it in the right direction with the right spirit. You could say that I took up my roles in the Parkour world very reluctantly. But I knew I had the right heart, and I knew I had the talent and vision to do it, so I knew I was the right person and it was the right decisions.

The people that understand all that are the ones that support Take Flight the most. When people look deep enough they can see that energy and spirit, and even for those who don’t look, part of that energy permeates everything we do so I think they still feel it. I think that’s the main reason why Take Flight has gained such a large following.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): What do you think are the reasons Parkour has become (at some degree, and in some places only) a social problem in the UK even leading to Parkour bans?

Adam: I can only give my best thoughts. I didn’t know it banned except in a few select locations, and I didn’t know it had led to any type of social problems. But I think there are generally a few things that lead to this all over, so even if the UK is an exception, it may not remain that way:

#1. People training in larger groups. This attracts attention and easily leads to false perceptions of the discipline / a false understanding of what people are doing.

#2. People being disrespectful. I have never received a negative response from someone in authority as a result to me training outside. However all of my students, and virtually every Traceur I have ever spoken to has. I’ve thought about it a lot over the years and I think it boils down to an energy you omit and the spirit you move and train it. If you are laughing and joking while you are “jumping around” then people passing by who don’t understand what you are doing can easily misinterpret that as “jumping around” and react negatively. But when you are training the way I train, with a focused mission/goal/objective and anyone from a mile away can see that you are doing something intently and in that focused energy, then they always respect it. Always. Yes, they may still ask you to leave if it’s their property or something, but nonetheless, it is perceived differently. I’ve tried to explain this to many people but most don’t get it. That “community” and “fun” mindset which many thrive on, is great, but it often takes over and it leads to getting labeled in negative ways. It’s not because anyone doing Parkour is bad. It’s just because a lot of Traceurs don’t understand how other people are going to view them based on subtle things they do. I, for one, prefer training alone, so that’s why I think #1 and #2 don’t follow me.

#3. Politics. I could see the UK cracking down on this, when other countries wouldn’t. I’ve heard they are cameras everywhere? Maybe that’s not true, but that idea adds to my reason for mentioning that thought.

Combine it all together and it doesn’t surprise me that Parkour is being banned in the UK. But I’m just being speculative based on your question, and speaking to what I’ve seen in my community. You should probably ask someone in the UK about this, as they will probably know more.

 

 

We Trace(CQ): How do you see the future of Parkour in the next 20 years?

Adam: It’s going to become a lot more formal. You’re going to see a lot more brands, and a lot more businesses, gyms, and the like.  Look at skateboarding. I know people don’t like the analogy, but look in a business context and at a professional level. That’s what I think we are going to see, but it’ll be Parkour and our future will be unique to Parkour.

 

 

We Trace: How has meeting David Belle changed or influenced your perception of Parkour?

Adam: It changed everything. I moved to France thinking Parkour was one thing, and I had an awakening of sorts and realized I wasn’t even close. It took about a year of knowing and learning from David to get it, but it all finally clicked. This is what has led me to write articles like “Parkour PURE vs Parkour FUN” and “The Four Things the Parkour Community Doesn’t Understand About Parkour.” If I had read these articles before I met David I probably wouldn’t have understood a lot of that. But that’s what he passed to me, and one of the reasons I share it is because it is so much different than what I thought Parkour was.

Those article cut to the heart of my ideas/understanding of Parkour, and I plan to write a lot more in the coming weeks and months and give a lot more explanation to that. Understandably most people don’t have the experience I have with David. So when I make a point people can easily say, “That’s not what David thinks,” or, “That doesn’t make sense” blah blah blah. And to my amazement, a lot of people say this type of stuff! The first thought I have whenever I read this type of thing is, “So you’re telling me you know David’s view better than I do? Come off it dude. You’re clueless.” The reality behind what I say is that each of my views either aligns with David directly because he told it to me, and out of respect of him as the founder I will not disagree with his views. Or my ideas is formed independently of David because it is based on a subject he isn’t versed in (like, the current attitudes and training of the current Parkour community) BUT my idea is based directly on countless hours spent with David , training talking, hearing stories, talking to his family etc. I can’t put all of that in one article so I just publish parts at a time, and often I publish the conclusion.

People can choose to trust me and understand that those views are based on an extensive history and learning, or they can reject them and follow their own path. Ultimately it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not here to convince anyone about anything. I’m just here to share my experiences and perspective, because I think a lot of people will be helped by it. David shattered my understanding/view/perception of Parkour and I write to that.

 

 

We Trace: Is there anything you would still like to state or add?

Adam: A few things:

 

#1. I’m still learning. That should be evident by me stating the fact that my proudest achievement is a 12 foot jump lol. My friend Thibaut Granier says that Parkour starts at 13 feet, so clearly I have some work to do 🙂

 

#2. I think one of the biggest problems in the Parkour world today is that many have a lack of respect for David and the history of Parkour. Disagreements on the origins and history of Parkour are what lead to virtually all disagreements as I see it. From my experience, I’ve found that those who have been around since 2006 or earlier, for the most part, don’t have a lack of respect. In other words, those people are very respectful. But many of those that who have come after this are not respectful. I think this is based largely on the fact that most people who found Parkour after don’t have a concept of what Parkour was without a global community. That gives them some feeling of entitlement or some feeling like they helped create what is here – which they did, but they didn’t create Parkour. There is a difference. The other thing that causes a lack of respect is that most just have any idea of how good David really was and still is. The greatest Traceurs in the world today don’t even compare. The chasm is so large that people have, for understandable reasons, begun to assume that the chasm couldn’t be that large. But it’s mind blowing large. I could tell story after story, but I’ll save those for another day. For now understand, that if you think you are someone or if you think any Traceur is someone, then you probably need to take a giant dose of humility. David was and still is better than you can possibly imagine.

 

#3. Keep your eyes on Take Flight. The biggest thing we are missing, I think, is the grassroots community support. We have a big following, but the viral following is not there. This has slowed our ability to bring a lot of that innovation I talked about, which I think has fed in to some of the doubts about us etc etc. I’ve talked to some of our athletes and the feelings I’ve received based on their feelings of the public perception of the company is that Take Flight is seen more as a corporate entity as opposed to the various teams/brands out there which have more of the community and grassroots/viral support feeling. I don’t know exactly how Take Flight acquired this corporate feel, but it was never my intention lol! The community feel is always what we wanted because that’s how we run, so it only makes sense. My point is simply this: when the Parkour community decides to support us in that viral community-grassroots type way, then you’ll see amazing things overnight. Whether this happens soon or a ways off, keep your eyes on us. Because either way you’re going to see the Take Fight organization continue to develop and set a standard for a purity and heart that transcends a business and provides amazing benefit to Traceur around the world through all that we do. There are only two question that are yet to be answered: when will the vision be fulfilled and who will be a part of it when it is. Ride now that doors are open, and I hope people see that and join us. I think for anyone who loves Parkour, Take Flight is going to become that company that we are all hoping and wishing for. And that’s the gift I want to give to people through Take Flight and through my work.

 

We Trace: Thank you for your time and effort!