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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I Fully support this cause
Seng that is an interesting point. Don't you think the lack of any necessary equipment in parkour changes that though? Combine that lack of need with a culture that is counter to such products to begin with and you have a losing proposition.
I think the lack of necessary equipment actually helps the commercialization of parkour; a pursuit with less required equipment- running and yoga are two great examples outside of parkour- makes access easier for new practitioners thus creating potentially larger markets. It's harder to think of one's self as an ice climber without proper gear, but it's not too tough to maintain fantasies of being a traceur when it's just a matter of motivation.

Also, parkour is very ripe for branding since so many of its practitioners are at stages in their lives where they are forming their identities and look for ways to make that identity known. Ideally, self-branding is more productive than consumptive, but the difference between BApk t-shirts made and worn by active members this community and anyone selling/buying clothes with PARKOUR written on them can be hard to remember in the exciting stages of undertaking a new activity.

I don't think businesses, products or money are inherently bad, nor do I think that commercialization is inevitable. I oppose commercialization in that I don't think parkour or any "parkour lifestyle" should be made into a product for commerce, but I think we have to understand how we create and sustain that lifestyle and brand. It's up to individuals to figure out when they are consumers or producers and how comfortable they are with that ratio in different aspects of their lives.
I don't mind at all when people make products for parkour! I love 5.10! K-Swiss is fine with me. The thing that bothers me is when companies try to establish themselves as an parkour and freerunning authority.

So, I don't like companies like: Parkour Generations, Urban Freeflow, WFPF, and MAYBE APK.

In my opinion, no person or company has the right to be a parkour or freerunning authority However, I like that the founders' words should be thought about deeply.
...another subtle, but notable difference is when, on one side, dedicated practitioners, after years of fostering and giving to their communities, start a business to 'make a living' (i.e.: opening a gym), versus established business, say an entertainment company or a shoe brand, slapping the name "Parkour" on something to make considerable profit, out of which a minuscule part goes to the few athletes, who are featured, sponsored or under contract, elevating -btw.- their image in the mind of young and/or naif practitioners, ignorant general public and media, to the status of celebrities or idols.

One example being the Toronto gym, or even PKGen, versus this WFPF (or imagine if Nike would call their new sweatshop produced $150 shoe "ParkourShok" or something...).

Subtle differences... various degrees of "use', "abuse", "misrepresentation", "exploitation"...
i agree, and im particularly annoyed about "slapping the name Parkour on something"
WFPF representatives answered the related thread on PKNA, initiated by BApk'announcement.

Please read their answer here and keep on voicing your opinions, suggestions, concerns and constructive criticisms (if you have any), here or on PKNA.
i went into reading WFPF's response with the pre-instilled notion that i do not like them.
their response said nothing that could carry any weight, nothing profound, they're just recognizing the push back and frankly do not sound that genuine to me about caring.
again, i went into reading it with a biased opinion.
I was not impressed with their "Mission Statement" and the other message that Giorgio posted.

I think that they will end up like Urban Freeflow and Parkour Generations.
I think it could go either way; I'm one of the "reserving judgement" crowd. Actions speak louder than words. No matter what they say, it's what they do that will matter.


Just a thought though, is getting parkour more coverage actually a good thing? Sure, it means more practitioners and maybe less opposition from security, but I doubt the people it would attract are the kind that we want representing our discipline. Especially when this show's premiering on trash like MTV.
YES!!!

I agree that we probably don't want too many more people getting into parkour.
Just to clarify:

What I mean is not that I don't want more people doing parkour (I would actually love seeing a lot of people do parkour), but that I want to see people do parkour right. The way it is now someone starts doing it pretty much only if they're truly interested, and most of us follow an unwritten code of conduct. I would just hate to see people destroying all the hard work that we've put into making parkour a respectable pasttime. (insert overstated "no parkour" sign sentiment here)

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