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Banner and link to the parkour and freerunning website of South coast parkour

The SCPK group will be demonstrating their skills in Brighton in September aspart of the Urban Playground project.

The scheme funded by Brighton and HoveArts Commission will see traceurs from across the country making use of amobile Parkour site – a series of platforms,stair sets and rails, that can be set upalmost anywhere to provide a training environment.

Celebrate urban arts and sport at theThornhill Plus You Urban Blast festival on Saturday September 23,
12pm-5pm,Hinkler Green, Thornhill.

For details, callMotiv8 Thornhill 023 8091 5812

Photo. South Coast Parkour performing moves

OTHER MEDIA ARTICLES
Photo of Luke during the filming of the Snickers parkour and freeuning tv commercial WATCH LUKE AND DRUNKMONK'S SNICKERS TV COMMERCIAL
Click here to watch the Luke and Dronkmunk's parkour tv commercial
Photo of Luke and Mexico's parkour crew Monos Urbanos STREET TEAM
SNICKERS TV COMMERCIAL

Luke jets off to Mexico City for filming and hooks up with the Monos Urbanos.
Worldwide jam Street Team member Luke, films the new Snickers tv commercial







Logo and Link to the Daily Echo website
JUMP TO IT
By Paula Thompson

Photo. South Coast Parkour vaulting a wall

IT ALL STARTED WITH SPIDERMAN.

The lycra-clad superhero springing from wall to wall in gravity-defying leaps and making light work of vertical buildings planted the seeds of inspiration for Matt Weeks.

“It’s every kid’s dream to be Spider-Man isn’t it?” said the 19- year-old, raising a pierced eyebrow and shrugging self-consciously.

Today the nimble teenager from Totton could give his childhood hero a run for his money. “This is one of the hotspots,” he explained, indicating the seemingly unremarkable city centre area where he has agreed to showcase his unusual skills. Work-tired passers-by and weary shoppers see a typical inner city scene: paved walkways; concrete steps; metal railings and the occasional litter bin or bench.

But for Matt the area outside Southampton’s Spar convenience store has endless possibilities. After a warm-up, five casually dressed men – Matt among them – begin demonstrating their unusual hobby.
A seemingly non-inspiring urban landscape becomes an exciting playground, limited only by their imagination.

At first they disperse swiftly, disappearing momentarily behind walls and concrete barriers as they each perform a deft assessment of their environment. But suddenly in a flurry of movement they spring out from their hiding places, performing an astonishing kind of urban dance.

Regimented paving slabs, and concrete walkways separated by cruel looking steps, waist-high brick walls and metal railings take on a new meaning as each man chooses a different unbelievable pathway across the space.

Benny Glaser, 17, executes a pirouetting spiral swing around a lamppost, alighting on a wall and leaping off on to the concrete. Another member of the group, Mark Rodgers, 24, bounds over a low wall, his hands launching briefly off the brickwork as his body glides clean over the obstacle.

Fifteen-year-old Simon Russel leaps over the same wall, feet first, legs outstretched. The ends of his red and white bandana stream out behind him as, on landing, he performs a fluid, judo-style roll across the paving.

Almost absent-mindedly he grasps a lamppost and raises his body at a controlled right-angle, flexed forearms supporting his entire body weight.

This is Parkour, a way of getting from A to B as quickly and efficiently as possible – regardless of the obstacles encountered en route. And it’s become a worldwide phenomenon.

Two bored teenagers growing up in the Parisian suburb of Lisses dreamt up the activity some 15 years ago, inspired partly by martial arts. David Belle and Sebastian Foucan are now widely credited with inventing the partsport, part-art form that is Parkour.

It captured the imagination of mass British audiences in 2002 when Belle was shown leaping between buildings to get home and watch television in the BBC trailer Rush Hour.

Interest flared again following two Channel 4 documentaries – last year’s Jump Britain and Jump London in 2003, showing giddying jumps from British landmarks. The UK now has a thriving network of Parkour communities – sometimes called ‘crews’ – meeting up on a regular basis to bounce off buildings, flip over walls and leap across bollards.

The South Coast Parkour group – established online in November 2004 – now has over 500 registered members ranging from 15 to 26 years old.

Photo. South Coast Parkour performing Parkour moves

But how does a fledgling traceur learn a discipline which apparently has no set moves and involves launching off unforgiving surfaces? Matt Weeks has been practising Parkour for two and a half years. Like all beginners he started with the basics – known as precisions – including mastering jumps between two points. Gym sessions are Gym sessions are another safe way of testing skills before hitting the streets. “After a while you start to see everyday spaces in a different light,” explained Matt, a ride operator and entertainer at Paulton’s Park, near Romsey.

“I see Parkour as a discipline and a form of expression. You have to train yourself and push yourself and yeah, it’s scary at first but you have to hold your nerve.” His only accident? A bruised shin after misjudging a jump and hitting a wall.

Safety is paramount for SCPK members, and rightly so – a 14-year-old boy was killed last year attempting a 7ft jump between two 35ft high buildings in Wantage, Oxfordshire. New traceurs are invited to watch others at work and given a safety talk.

Learning to roll to absorb the shock of landing and maintaining the correct pressure on the wrists when vaulting over obstacles are important basic skills.

Watching the Southampton traceurs moving gracefully around the city’s public spaces it is easy to see how the discipline blurs the boundaries between art and sport.

But for computer science student Chris Phillips, the discipline defies classification. “It’s different for everyone and I’m conscious that what it means to me is very different for what it means to other people,” said Chris, 21, who runs the SCPK website.

“For me it’s about the passion of one person, pushing themselves on for personal progression. Some people call it a sport but sport has an element of competition and this is more an interpretation of movement. The only person you are in competition with is yourself.”

Chris of Southampton’s Bassett Avenue is also anxious to separate grass-roots Parkour from the fancy flips showcased in films like District 13 –released last month – and the new James Bond movie Casino Royale. “We’re not about aesthetics,” he said. “Yeah, it can look good if done well but it’s not about flashy jumps and spins for the camera. It’s a personal experience and for me it’s just a way of unwinding,” he said simply. “It’s a hobby like any other that keeps you fit at the same time and gives a little bit of escapism.” Chris is rightly proud of the community he has helped to set up which helps combat boredom and creates a social network for young people in Southampton.

Ultimately he would like to set up organised gym sessions to encourage more young men and women into the Parkour scene.

During our chat a young man dressed in the ‘street’ uniform of long baggy Tshirt, trainers and baseball cap approaches the SCPK group.
Far from the aggressive exchange I’m ashamed to say I feared, the visiting Londoner was simply keen to watch some fellow traceurs in action and share some Parkour experiences with another crew.

Parkour is perfectly legal but gangs of youths can be intimidating. According to Chris, a simple explanation is usually all it takes to reassure people.

“It’s understandable that people want to know what we are doing. Sometimes the police ask what we are doing but they’re usually fine once we tell them. “We have to respect people and public property and if we get asked to move on we will.”

One thing is obvious, those who get the Parkour bug are clearly smitten. “It’s such a buzz,” said 20-year-old Mark Knevett of Weston. “It’s exhilarating. You’re only in the air for one or two seconds but it feels like a lifetime. You get such a rush and you’re free but you’re in control. It feels like flying. It feels better than anything and to be a part of that is enough for me. ”After a while you start to see everyday spaces in a different light".

 






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