Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

I stumbled on this interesting interview given by former(?) UrbanFreeFlow member John "Kerbie" Kerr to APK.

Good insight of the early UK years (2002/03), and the development of the 3rd generation practitioners (uncertain definition: the ones that learned from the ones who learned from the Founders... i.e. Forrest, who learned from Stephane Vigroux, etc.).

It makes for a very good reading, and maybe shows what the future holds up for the US scene, since the UK one seems to have a 2/3 years lead on us (even if it looks like we are catching up quick, on both goods and bads).
But -of course- history doesn't HAVE to repeat itself, necessarily...
;)

I particularly liked the insight in these paragraphs; about the community:
"...Back then there were no politics, no one judging you by the way you moved, no arguements about what is/ isnt parkour. Back then, parkour had a different definition than the one that came about when Belle formed Pawa. Because no one was fighting over the sport it didnt matter what you called it, you were too busy doing it.
Things have definitely changed now. I can´t really put a finger on what the catalyst was but I have a few theories. I´m sure that they´ll upset a few people and I´m not here to do that.
Right now the scene is in shambles in my opinion..."


about the training:
"The older classes do half hour of stretching and conditioning. It´s a full body workout but kept fun and relevant to Parkour techniques. I cringe when I watch videos of classes online and I see potential traceurs in the streets just doing pushups and sit-ups. Those are exercises you can do at home with your own time, not something that a traceur/free runner should be teaching you.We then do half an hour of challenges and technique work."

about competition (with which I disagree):
"Firstly, I think that there is nothing wrong with competition. Some people really get in a fluster about it, but I really cannot understand why. We´ve managed to convince one of the worlds leading banks to spend nearly a million pounds flying 30 free runners from all over the globe to spend an awesome weekend of training, learning, pranks and more training. As long as we spend one day of it doing what we love, with each other in front of thousands of people that want to see more of what we do. Plus the winners use the prize money to travel and spread the word about what we do."

about UFF:
"people picture UF as some big industrial machine. It´s not like that at all. It´s just EZ sitting in his garage updating the website and printing tee shirts. UF don´t actually actively seek work or make oppertunities for free runners or traceurs, it´s basically EZ replying to enquiries from potential clients and going with the highest bidder, but thats no secret.
It also feels like EZ´s stubborness and need to control/monopolise free run has seen UF missing out on lots of amazing oppertunities to help the sport grow. That being said, the ripple effect caused by everything UF had done between 2003-05 has made the sport what it is.
Parkour/Free run would still be small if it wasnt for the work that we all put in back then, it´s just a shame the the people running UF see it as their hard work rather than the free runners that actually represented the biz..."


and finally, the future (with which I agree most):
"I have no predictions. Parkour and Free run have already grown much faster than skateboarding did thanks to the internet, youtube and that fact that you need no equipment to participate. In an ideal future, those who have had several years experience in the sport will really start to give something to the community off of their own backs. Not for fame or fortune, but because they still love what they do and want to pass it on to the next generation."

But there's more and good thoughts, also about the US scene (which he seems to know mainly from the Internet, and the traceurs that have been traveling to the UK, though...)

Check out the integral article on APK.


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I agree with a lot of what he says.

As far as competition goes, I suppose it all comes down to reality: a more experienced traceur (like yourself) would undoubtedly be better than somebody who was just introduced to parkour a week ago. Though some would say that the really high level guys wouldn't be necessarily be better or worse than one another, this doesn't mean there must absolutely be no competition within the community.

I'll use running as an example. Most everybody runs, and you can't really say you're better at running than the next fellow. It has more to do with how far you're capable of developing and how hard you work at developing that capability. However, this does not mean we must outlaw footraces. A couple of guys racing to a tree would not undermine the "spirit of running". If there would be a problem, it would be because people ran ONLY to compete, and not just for the act itself.

I think parkour is fairly similar. The movement is the movement is the movement, and nothing else. Two people quickly competing over who can land the farthest kong, and then resuming their training does not kill parkour. What would kill it is if they focused exclusively on being better than the other guy, losing the ability to move for movement's sake in the meantime. What would kill it if they concentrated more on the competition than the parkour. And I frankly don't think that's going to be a problem for the PK community.

Just my two cents, anyways.
...what you are talking about is friendly, stimulating "competitiveness".

What he was describing, and what many oppose, are full-blown, organized and media-supported "Competitions" like the World Freerunning Championships Kerbie was talking about (especially if involving the name of Parkour, like the Ultimate PK Challenge ), which many believe would lead to negative consequences for a variety of reasons.

As one can see also by this other very frank (yet respectful) thread, this debate is ongoing and not easy to tackle, even for a strong, active and friendly community like ours.

My interpretation is: it's the very nature of Parkour, which challenges and tries to tweak the natural (and highly empathized in modern, western societies) antagonistic and preeminence oriented human instinct.
I welcome that.

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