Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

Community Announcement about the "World Frerunning and Parkour Federation"

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.

Yours Truly,
Bay Area Parkour council
San Francisco, March 4, 2009

[please note: the terms "WFPF" and "World Freerunning and Parkour Federation" are registered trademarks and belong to their respective copyright owners]

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