This is an article/interview with Debbie who wrote out some questions for me to answer on my experience in general with training and practicing Parkour.
Frost, how did you start doing Parkour? Do you have an early memory of it?
I started about 3 years ago, I’d kind of looked into it and taken a couple of classes beforehand but I had always lost interest or gotten bored. I started after seeing videos of people doing parkour on youtube and being like “holy shit, that looks awesome”. So I started doing it and found that even the basic stuff was really really fun. I started just by jumping between lines on the concrete and eventually worked my way up to where I am now.
Where are you now?
I’ve progressed a long way since the lines on the concrete. I’m up to about a 15-foot running jump an 8-10 foot standing one. I’m working on getting a double a-twist (a frontflip off of one leg with one and a half twists) and a lot of other smaller stuff. I have two big goals that I’m working towards right now: one of them is to be the first person in the world to do something, say, quad a-twist. The other goal is to build a movement community centered around mental health. I’ve noticed a lot of toxicity around mental health in movement communities and I really want to build an accepting and open environment for people with various problems.
Have you ever faced serious injury?
I’ve had quite a few small injuries but not really serious ones. I did something to my knee that meant I couldn’t train for 3 weeks, but that was the longest that any injuries have kept me out of it. I also have some injuries that sound bad, like bruising my lung, but aren’t really that bad. The lung bruise took like 2 days to heal and I was back out the day after it happened. Still haven’t broken any bones or anything serious like that.
Have you seen anything out there in the world of parkour that was memorable?
A lot of stuff, I really love seeing someone do something for the first time ever. Either a move they made up or something that people have been trying to do for a while. The first double kong gainer, kong gainer full, cast gainer, triple and then years later quad cork. It’s really awesome to see people pushing boundaries and doing these seemingly impossible things. I guess seeing stuff like that is what I tend to remember most.
Do you know what is legal and what isn’t, and if so, do you have any opinions on that?
Bit of a complicated question that tends to vary state by state and place by place. To my knowledge, here in Seattle Washington there’s no specific law or any problem against it. It’s not uncommon to be kicked out of somewhere but in that case you just leave, I’ve never seen or heard of anyone in this area facing legal trouble. It might be illegal in some areas where they have signs and stuff against activities like skateboarding or similar, but again I’ve only known people to be kicked out of those areas. I think it’s only illegal if you’re causing property damage or trespassing.
Do you consider parkour revolutionary, avant garde, just out there or odd, or something else? And would you like it if it became more mainstream–like taught in PE classes, or an Olympic sport?
I guess I consider parkour it’s own thing. A lot of people use it in a lot of different ways, some people want to do huge tricks and really push the limits (that’s my category), some people want to win competitions, some people want to use it as a way to relax or find inner peace, some people use it as a way to express themselves artistically, some people use it for the adrenaline rush, some people use almost like yoga to keep fit in a more fun way. Parkour is very much what you make of it, and no style is more or less valid than any others.
To answer your second question, kind of? There’s actually a lot of conflict in the parkour community because a gymnastics organization known as FIG is attempting to make parkour a part of their gymnastics tournaments. The problem arises in that they want to make parkour theirs, and lot of people who train very much do not want that. Most of us want to maintain our individuality, and are worried by a larger organization composed of people who don’t train, or know little about the discipline profiting from and attempting to enforce self made regulations and restrictions upon the greater parkour community. So I would like it to become more mainstream but only in a way that keeps it open for all the different ways people like to train it, and if large organizations become involved than they are run by traceurs, for traceurs. (Traceurs is the word for people who practice or study parkour.)