May 23, 2014

Finding Parkour in Sydney and around the World: Colombia, Venezuela and Germany

Parkour is the art of navigating from Point A to Point B in as efficient a manner as possible using one's body and surroundings to propel themselves safely. I first started Parkour in 2010 when a colleague at work explained there were Sunday workshops just up the road (Parkour NSW). On my first day I coincidentally reconnected with an old friend from Design school I hadn't seen in years. The group struck me with its inclusiveness, boys and girls, ages ranging from 15 to 35. You'd see Parents with strollers supporting their kids as they gave it a go.

I have a short attention span and as such have never trained or persisted with a craft. My friend remains a Parkour regular [obsessive] to this day. Advancing with the discipline, making lifelong friends and traveling interstate with the community. I've watched the scene develop as new spaces and initiatives have popped up around Sydney.

I explained to him that my best joys are moments when things are synchronous, when the improbable occurs because things fortuitously connect. Like hitting a game-winner when you've barely played basketball. Its the magic appeal I find in travel. My friend remarked "In Parkour, once is never". For them its not about conquering the moment, its perfecting one's movements. An interesting and different outlook to mine.

I've found Parkour in several corners of the world, you can spot them from a distance once you develop an eye for it. Usually groups of young boys, on a makeshift obstacle or sizing one up. Wearing tracksuits and moving in a trail. I stumbled onto Parkour classes at Olympiapark München (Parkour München) on the way to the BMW museum. Though I joined them impromptu, the teacher was gracious enough to repeat his instructions in English. I quizzed some kids (DesplazArte) I spotted training at the ridiculously active Parque del Este in Caracas. I had just dislocated my finger earlier that day and acrobatics was the furthest thing from my mind. I also happened upon a National meet by the Humilladero Bridge in Popayán (Ville Blanche). Like all the encounters mentioned, language proved a barrier. As I hadn't developed my craft I couldn't prove my worth through physical demonstration. It was a chaotic day with many participants traveling from around the Country. I didn't press them too much with my limited Spanish, all I wanted was a souvenir T-shirt. No suerte.

Aji'sie Popayán 2013
(4th National Parkour meet in Colombia)
Dog down
Down Dog
Watch the Somersault in motion
Yellow leader
Find more Colombia (2013) photos here
I'm not completely inept at Parkour however. I trained for several sessions in indoor and outdoor spaces around Sydney. Whilst I never mastered the cat pass or rolls, I'm confident with wall climbs. It has practical uses especially for Urban exploration. Its come in handy Caveclanning the bunkers of Sydney, tracking down a Spanish lookout and scaling walls to find sleeping quarters in Portugal.

For anyone interested in Parkour, Sydneysiders will soon have a new destination to practice their craft. Based in Tempe it was founded by and for members of the community. The AAPES (Australian Academy of Parkour, Exercise and Self Defence) will be opening its doors June 7, 2014. Make sure you head down and check it out.
AAPES Opening! Sydney's Indoor Parkour and Self Defence location
Saturday the 7th of June is your opportunity to come hang out, grab a bbq at 1pm, listen to some music, meet members of the Parkour community from all around Australia, get some sweet givaways, sign up for classes, purchase your iconic Reach Escape shirt, and partake of possibly one the best icecreams you'll ever have (Pat and Sticks that is!)