Parkour is becoming more and more popular all over the world. Thecircular.org author Marian Nadler spoke with two parkour athletes, John (19) from Sweden and Andre (19) from Germany, about their parkour experience. An interview about different parkour styles in different countries, the ultimate form of running and overcoming fear.
When did you start parkour and why?
John: I started doing parkour 6 years ago. Before I began with parkour I did combat sports. Doing parkour , for me, was a different approach for fighting a bigger enemy at this point. Like doing combat sports, it distracted me from being bullied when I was younger as well.
Andre: I started almost two years ago. I wanted to do a sport that is more demanding without buying expensive equipment.
Are you doing parkour in a group, for example with your friends, or alone?
John: I do it alone, my friends in the area where I live are not into parkour, but I have friends in Stockholm who I did it with.
Andre: I do parkour sometimes with my friends, but I prefer doing it alone.
Are there different styles or techniques of parkour around the world?
John: Well, it is not depending on the country, it is more depending on the environment and how advanced you are. Advanced parkour is all from backflips to sideflips, so the only goal is not only to surmount a hindrance like in amateur parkour, but to do it in a spectacular way.
Andre: I think everybody can develop his own style of parkour. But in Germany we divide it into two different styles. The “supply style”, which involves slower, softer moves and more sliding moves. It is persistent moving. The “hard style” is fast and snappy.
Is doing parkour possible in every environment or can you only do parkour in urban environment, not in nature?
John: I do it in nature every day of the summer, sometimes in winter as well. But technically as long as it is hard terrain and you run through it, it is a form of parkour.
Andre: Predominantly in an urban environment, but also in nature. Personally, I train in nature. It was first invented in nature, later it went to the urban areas.
When did you lost the fear of injuries, for example after a spectacular jump?
John: I lost the fear very fast, after I dislocated my first toe and fingers. In combat sports I learned that pain is just a state of mind. And after some months of mental training in parkour and combat sports I learned to dull my sense of pain. Recapitulating, I can ignore pain now.
Andre: At first it is all about actually doing it. The timing is different for everyone. After a while, you learn to fall, to cushion the jump etc. Every jump is a good jump. In parkour you learn from every failure and every success. If I really had to determine a time, I would say after a year, you won’t have fear anymore.
Would you say that the mental attitude is important concerning parkour?
John: Parkour is all about pushing your limits, so you can’t exactly give your everything when you run and when it comes to a jump, you can’t just stop. You can’t change your mind. In fact, that can sometimes be dangerous.
Andre: Mostly not. However you should stay calm at the beginning. Bit by bit, running, jumping and climbing will become instinctively in a way. Furthermore, parkour trains your mentality. You overcome your fear, you learn to assess and to risk. Your whole attitude to life changes. I learned, that you can get better EVERYTIME and that you always should accept challenges.
Can everybody do parkour? How much exercise would one need to become at least average?
John: You have to be fit. You need a body, that is used to do sports and some kind of training. Otherwise it could become difficult. Good reflexes and a plan how and where you want to land after a jump are necessary.
Andre: In theory, everybody can be a traceur (parkour athlete). You have to begin in a small way. For the most barriers you will need practice. Discipline is important.
Is there a parkour world cup? What other competitions are important?
John: There are many competitions all over the world.
Andre: Yes, there are competitions. There is a World Cup. The goal is to finish in first, despite diverse barriers.
Can you name three parkour athletes everybody should know?
Andre: Firstly, David Belle, one of the originators of parkour.
Next is Ryan Doyle. He is a world champion.
And Sebastien Foucan. He is member of the yamakasi, a French parkour group.
Will parkour become more popular in the future?
John: Hell yeah, parkour is the ultimate form of running!
Andre: I can’t evaluate it precisely, nevertheless the numbers of traceurs is taking off at the moment. It was considered to include parkour in the Olympic Games. There are courses in many military formations as well. I reckon that the number of parkour athletes has doubled in the last two years. Parkour will become more popular.