Parkour: The Art of Motion

Posted on 06 December 2012 by admin

A look into the extreme sport of Parkour.

By: Joe Makoto
-Staff Writer-

STLCC-Meramec student Mike Wilson said parkour helps him realize his potential to achieve goals. Wilson said parkour can be dangerous but the reward is worth the risk. | PHOTO BY Tegan Mazurek

Parkour is the graceful and sometimes dangerous sport of moving one’s body through space, around buildings and over obstacles efficiently and safely has become increasingly popular over the decades. Students at STLCC–Meramec are no exception to this worldwide trend.

Mike Wison, Meramec student, attributes the recent rise in popularity of parkour, and the related sport of freerunning, to YouTube.  The athletes of parkour, traceur for men and traceuse for women, can be seen doing phenomenal stunts like climbing walls, jumping off tall buildings and leaping gaps between rooftops.

Wilson said parkour can be dangerous, but responsibility for safety rests with the individual, “People see these guys doing crazy stunts on YouTube and think ‘these guys are going to kill themselves,’ I believe that’s largely false, because with parkour and free running you control all the variables…if I get injured, I made a choice I wasn’t ready for,” Wilson said.

Wilson credits Parkour’s artistic and performance components, which were present in his life before finding parkour. “I’ve always been an artist and a performer, I do magic, I do music, I do standup comedy. All of my talents revolve around performing, or art. Going into parkour and free running, with the art of motion, of course I was drawn to it,” Wilson said.

After participating, Wilson found that various types of athletic people are drawn to the sport. “You’ve got people who really weren’t interested in the arts, who were outside playing basketball and football, and to them it was another sport that they could learn to master. [Parkour] is really cool at bringing people together who otherwise wouldn’t have met,” Wilson said.

Devon Elsner, Meramec student, said that since he started parkour and free running, about four years ago, he has sustained several injuries. A particularly bad injury to his knee occurred when he tried to control a landing from about two stories up. What happened next he recalls nonchalantly, was not so pleasant at the time. “I know friends had a video of me lying on the ground cursing my head off for five minutes,” Elsner said.

Wilson was introduced to parkour in a more gentle way when an acquaintance invited him to an open gym, which is an indoor gymnastics facility where techniques can be learned in a relatively safe environment.

“It was a 12 hour open gym, an overnight lock-in, and over those 12 hours, [the invitee] and a bunch of others showed me tips and tricks, they taught me so many things that first night. That was the night I really began to get into parkour and freerunning,” Wilson said.

The open gym has so far insulated Wilson from serious injury. Wilson said the worst physical pain he has experienced was when he fell from six feet onto the Plyo Floor – the bouncy floor material of the gym.

“I just had the wind knocked out of me, now granted, it was the worst wind knocked out of me I’ve ever had in my life, but that’s all I had wrong,” Wilson said.

In the safer environment Wilson finds experimentation and progress to be easier. Now, less than a year after his formal introduction to parkour, Wilson is able to show off quite an array of flips.

“Before I started in the gym, you couldn’t pay me to do a flip outside,” Wilson said.

Wilson attributes his quick uptake to the welcoming parkour community, which he found unusual in its open and friendly attitude.

“A lot of other extreme sports tend to have an air of elitism about them. Parkour and free running, by in large, the community is one of the most positive, welcoming and beginner friendly I have ever seen in my life. That’s really how I got started, through the wonderful community,” Wilson said.

This openness may come from what Wilson sees as the spiritual side of the sport, which develops as a person becomes in tune with their own capabilities and is then able to view life differently.

“A lot of people can get really spiritual with it; really get a lot of drive and purpose when they realize they can accomplish a lot of other goals in their life. If I can do this, then really, these other obstacles in my life don’t seem quite as insurmountable. I just ran up a 15 foot wall. I know I can get through college, I know I get that job, if I can do all this,” Wilson said.


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