Jump Around! Jump Around! Jump Up Jump Up and get down!
I’m sure this early 90s chartbuster by the House of Pain evokes some fond memories. Ok, snap out of it. Don’t get teary eyed and reminisce about your baggy jeans, bandanas, aviators and what not. To truly do justice to the sentiment of the song, you need to be a parkour athlete or at least see one in action.
Say what? Parker(pen)? Parkar(uncle from down the street)?
No no, Le Parkour, translated as ‘The Art of Moving’ in English (and often referred to as Free Running), is a French-origin sport that requires the traceur (basically the athlete) to get through various elements of an urban landscape, like walls, poles and railings, as fast as possible. Jumping, running, climbing and other forms of movement are adopted by the traceur to navigate his way efficiently from Point A to Point B.
The sport is slowly getting a lot of visibility and popularity in India and has been featured in a number of movies and on television as well. Also in the past 3-4 years, Bollywood action heroes and other famous personalities have hopped onto the Parkour bandwagon. The passion & interest is growing among young indians for Parkour, and those interested in it are finding likeminded individuals and groups to train and learn with.
We caught up with Free Souls, one of the many Parkour groups in the country during one of their training sessions at Powai (north-east suburub in Mumbai) The 5 traceurs from Free Souls helped us come up to speed with Parkour and understand the underlying philosophy behind the sport.
Free Souls like like most of the other traceurs across india, met on Parkour Groups & Forums on the web, got together and started free running. According to the traceurs from Free Souls, Parkour is not about competition as much as it is about pushing & testing your own limits. “Obviously, being a beginner you can’t wake up one day and decide to start free running. It takes 4-6 months of conditioning before you actually start free running”, said Nirmit one of the traceurs from Free Souls. Most of them started 2 years back while their oldest member Giles has been free running for over 5 years.
Free Souls train 4-5 times a week at various spots in the city which include large parks, dilapidated buildings and old mills. During their training sessions, they have met more people interested in the sport who have joined their group. One of them has even travelled to Thailand for a Parkour workshop to meet and train with his role models like Jason Paul & Ryan Doyle. Nabeel says, “Going abroad and training with these guys is an experience we will never get in our country, but we are trying to spread the word about the sport and create awareness among our youth & hopefully we will soon have better facilities for people to train & learn in the country. Plans are in the pipeline"
From what we have seen, these guys are extremely passionate about what they are doing and there are several such groups across the country. It is only a matter of time now before extreme sports like Parkour are recognized in India as main stream and you have youngsters put on running shoes rather than pick up a cricket bat.
Watch this space for updates on Parkour, Ryan Doyle and much more as we continue to showcase Indian talent in various fields in the weeks to come!
Photo Credit: Pratap Kaul