Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

From the post in the "resources" section:

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Dear BApk members,

We would like to inform you about an upcoming event that may shape the public perception of our discipline. This may affect current practitioners in their daily conversations about parkour, but more importantly it will affect the mindsets of would-be practitioners, general public, media and authorities. If you have been with us for a while or have read through our documents, you already have a good idea how we feel about this. However, rather than preach to you we thought it best to give you the details so that you can make an informed judgment.

This month production begins on a MTV television series called "The Ultimate Chase" that will attempt to portray parkour and freerunning. As the title describes, the series will set well known practitioners (Danny Illabaca, Ryan Doyle, Oleg Vorslav) as well as lesser known practitioners (Brian Orosco) against each other on an obstacle course. "The Ultimate Chase" which will be introduced by a one hour special will feature both man vs. man and man vs. course events.

The show is the brainchild of a few entertainment professionals who formed the "World Freerunning and Parkour Federation" (WFPF) by signing athletes from around the world who were trying to break into the entertainment industry. Televised obstacle courses have been around for some time, but this rebranding for English audiences will take advantage of the popularity of the disciplines of parkour and freerunning. The WFPF claims their competition remains true to the philosophies of both parkour and freerunning which were founded and defined as non-competitive disciplines.

While their audience will consist largely of non-practitioners, the WFPF has worked closely with practitioners to form a palatable marketing strategy for the existing community. It is their position that competition is the inevitable future of a discipline which is practiced by tens of thousands world wide in a non-competitive fashion. While this may seem illogical, their position comes into focus when considering the money involved. It is virtually impossible to make money off of parkour in its current non-competitive format. It cannot be argued that a competitive format is more lucrative. This 'inevitability' stance has been trumpeted for the past several years only by those interested in profiting off the community (i.e.: Mark Toorock of APK, and Paul Corkery of UFF), but was shot down by a global movement which popularized such slogans as "Pro Parkour, Against Competition" and "Competition is not inevitable, it is just another obstacle!" To further satisfy the non-competitive community the WFPF claims all competitors will strive together in a communal fashion. However, they diverge from the community theme when they claim on their website to be a "Federation for the teams". The global parkour scene is not made up of teams, which are generally viewed as a means to further careers in the entertainment industry, but rather all-inclusive communities that foster the utilitarian parkour philosophy.

While the WFPF has taken a direct page out of the APK/UFF playbook, they are not collaborating with the two organizations since initial discussions turned sour. Both APK/UFF and WFPF camps claim the opposition is taking advantage of their athletes. Although some WFPF signees are rumored to be unhappy with their contracts, for those willing to partake in a competition labeled as parkour the partnership with WFPF seems like a step in the right direction in terms of safety. The industry professionals will be using the UFF Barclaycard competition as an example of what not to do. At the aforementioned event there was only one medic on site when an athlete was seriously injured, and required emergency treatment. The entire event had to be put on hold until the medic returned to a jeering crowd and uneasy participants.

Here is the first press release from the WFPF. Hopefully you feel we gave you some intelligent insight on this upcoming event, and can make more informed decisions about it.

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I'm willing to do everything in my power to fight AGAINST this. I will be starting a group soon for this purpose. Stay tuned for more details.

Let's at least try to minimize the effects of this problem.

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...after (literally!) years of (quite literally...) fighting in the PK community "at large", only one thing has emerged for sure: that there's NO AGREEMENT WHATSOEVER on "if", "how", and "for what" this battle has to be fought.

In my book, this means only one thing: that there's still room for fighting it!

Then again: people are tired, everybody is primarily "in" because she/he wants to train and not fight (especially on-line), fighting to prevent competition sounds paradoxical, (some) kids don't give a damn...

BUT, we have learned a couple of things in the process:
- it's better to fight "for" than "against": it generates better karma and sympathy
- no comparison will really hold (yoga -incredibly- has been turned to competition too, skateboard/surf/snowboard have tribes of practitioners, but nobody has the same TYPE of transversal community that PK can have, etc.)
- shirts may be better than online banners... ;)
- build up your team and go for it, forget convincing the naysayer
- be loud, bold and fun

...so the first challenge seems to be what do we want to foster (not 'preserve') with this competition-free (=non competitive =friendly?) parkour?

The shirt should be PRO- that, in my opinion...
yoga cup...lolololol
Dude!!! Start stretching (posing?), the Northern California Regionals are coming up! Haha!
I think we should sell a pro-parkour, pro commercialization organic bamboo hoodie for $75.

LOL!

:D

You've probably already seen this, but just so we have a link in the appropriate thread, here's the initial shirt concept: http://baparkour.ning.com/photo/photo/show?id=2070047%3APhoto%3A50728

"Embedding disabled"... direct link here.
This is prostitution of Parkour, and Corruption of its Philosophy
trueest thing ever
Sorry, for resuscitating this thread (...sorry,sorry! Lol...), but I rather don't contaminate other positive, useful threads with the long-tail of bitterness that this WFPF/MTV initiative will keep on provoking... (<-I didn't like it before, and I don't like it after...).

Check this out: "Parkour: We Ain’t Afraid Of No Concrete!"
Granted it's only a blog, not mainstream media.
But it's well written, by somebody with a first hand experience in 'radical sports', (better than 'extreme', uh?...), and it may soon become mainstream opinion... false, and misleading.

A couple of abstracts:
"Parkour (French for “suck it, gravity”) is a cutting-edge sport that’s pretty much the same as free running (“because jogging won’t get me on MTV”), an urban athletic hipster trend that peaked when it was featured in some Sprite commercials a few years back..."

"The difference between parkour and free running, according to Rusty and the other traceurs (“trespassers”) who practice it, is this: Parkour is the art of getting from point A to point B as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Free running is moving in any way you feel, in a way that’s cool or looks good, but not necessarily focused on trying to get anywhere. Of course, the one thing in common between the two is that you’ll need special $100 shoes..."

Forget about the philosophy... forget about "be strong to be useful'... forget about the worldwide community, but it gets better:

"It’s not childish, but it is downright risky. And the better he gets, the bigger the risks. We recently sat down as a family and watched a parkour special on MTV..."

"Rather than inspire confidence in Rusty’s new passion, this special did the opposite. But after the show, we talked it over and came to the conclusion that Rusty and his gang weren’t jumping over the alley between buildings, they weren’t diving off of 12-foot-high chain link fences, and there was no $40,000 prize tempting them to risk their lives..."

Read it all; even if it's annoying and superficial, from an ignorant (=not knowing) perspective, it's actually insightful, and coming to conclusions that not all 'mainstream parents' would... but -damn!- it's annoying.

Thank you WFPF!
:P
As I said in our short, private conversation, having a worldwide community is useless if all the "traceurs" are crappy "thrillseekers" who just want to make money and show off."

We've exchanged parkour's philosophy for a larger audience. Now instead of having a few dedicated traceurs, we have tons of crappy tracuers. That's what I call progress.
I don't think that it's an issue of elite, illuminated practitioners vs. mass practice

...truth is, instead, that the worldwide community that we still have today is an unofficial big confederation of similar minded communities, with all the degrees of differences, but quite respectful of each other, and sufficiently correct in their daily practices (for example when it comes to definitions, training, or coaching...).

It is a modular system, with a scalable model.
And in fact, you can pretty much jump on a plane, and tomorrow be training in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Manila, Tokyo and have a not too different experience from what you would have in any organized practice in the Bay Area.
Nobody started using mats on the street, or body protections, or cables for safety, or nets to leap 100 feet above ground... no respected community that I know transformed parkour into "stunt-work", or "circus acrobatics", or else.

Problems started emerging when business people came in with a marketing strategy and a business plan, taking advantage of the grassroot work done for years by dedicated practitioners, and organizing volunteers (on and offline).
Are they respectful of the established practices?
Are they interested in the motives and ensuing philosophies?
Do they have a documentary approach (as in Jump Britain, Point B, etc.), or are they simply after the flash and the glitz (as... you name it)?

But, then again, aside of the individuals lured in by money and fame, the rest of us kept on pretty much "just going out and move".
There's simply not enough "bandwidth" to transform all talented traceurs in sportstars or celebrities.

The big problem, IMO, is the general public perception.
If parents and law enforcement get the impression that "this parkour business is a lot riskier than rollerblading or riding a bike, or other activities that normal kids with no death wish do.... these people are quite clearly insane... it’s just a matter of time before one blows a move, and cracks his melon on a retaining wall or something, and winds up looking like the victim of a curb stomping" (from the same blog as above), parkour is going to fall very soon in the inappropriate behavior category, transforming its practitioners in outsiders/renegades/deviants...

We don't need that, we don't deserve that!
Most importantly, this may cause future practitioners to be a different breed of individuals altogether: because it could take much more effort and different personalities (more aggressive, rebellious or desperate?) just to be able to go out and start, and then going-big-or-going-home (or to the hospital)....

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