How to be a Superhero (In Real Life)

Alright, so on Sunday a few of us are going to officially introduce America to Parkour. The New Yorker is going to have a weekend-long festival throughout New York City and one of the things that they’re showcasing is the “new” discipline of Parkour.

So you’re probably thinking, “what the eff is that?” Well, it’s easier to show you than to tell you. You’ve probably seen it before but didn’t know what it is so if you’ve ever seen Casino Royale or the Bourne Identity movies you’ve seen it in action. If not, here’s a scene from Casino Royale with our boy Sebastien playing the guy that James Bond is trying to catch:

Sebastien did all the stunts himself.


And here’s my favorite vid, from a fellow traceur in Russia:


So now that you’ve seen parkour in action, what is it? Well, basically it’s the art of movement – moving as fast as you can and overcoming obstacles as you come to them without letting them slow you down. It’s about training your body to react instinctively so that you can get past anything at full speed – over, under, through, or around – but without letting the obstacle block your path.

We all do a little of it as kids in the playgrounds and way back when humans had to hunt their own food we all did it to either catch our prey or to avoid being eaten ourselves. It’s a physical discipline that trains your entire body but also your mind, because once your body is able to do these things, there’s still the challenge of overcoming your fear and learning how to focus on getting past the obstacles without freezing up. Adrenaline evokes the fight or flight response in human beings and for the centuries martial arts have trained us for the fight. Parkour trains us for the flight.

Guys who practice Parkour are called “traceurs” and the ladies are “traceuses.” (The sport was invented in France, but more on that later.) Most of us come to Parkour with backgrounds in total body disciplines, like dance, martial arts, or gymnastics. For me, it was the freedom of unrestricted movement. I’ve been training in martial arts all of my life for it, and Parkour takes all that training and lets you experience the freedom at a level you’ve only dreamed of. The wind blowing through your hair as you vault a fence and take a few steps then jump from wall to wall to scale a wall and drop down the other side… There’s nothing quite like it. Like my friend Maggie said the other day, “It’s all about defying gravity.”

So back to France. About fifteen to twenty years ago, a group of guys grew up together in the town of Lisses and they’d practice jumping and running. One of these boys was Sebastien Foucan and another was his friend, David Belle. Belle’s dad was in the French military and part of his training involved movement training, navigating obstacle courses, etc. He taught his son what he’d learned and David incorporated that with the martial arts and gymnastics that we was studying and soon Parkour was born.


Here’s a few clips of David doing his thing:


David is going to be coming to New York for the festival this weekend and I’ll be training with him and a bunch of other traceurs Saturday to set up a demonstration on Sunday at 1 PM. Together we will introduce the U.S. to Parkour. The exhibition is FREE and will be held at the Javitz Plaza.

Here is the information:

1 p.m. Javits Plaza (Free)
Eleventh Avenue Between 35th & 36th Streets
(In the event of rain, call 212.286.6998 for a status update.)

Now, I’m in the middle of writing an article explaining Parkour and its roots for Forum, the magazine that I used to work at so I’ll post that on here and on my main blog when it’s done, but I think the following needs to be said so people don’t get hurt.

1)Parkour is a discipline, not an extreme sport. It is NOT competitive. We don’t race each other from point A to point B because that’s the FASTEST WAY TO GET SERIOUSLY INJURED. NONE of us wants to get hurt because we all have jobs or go to school or have other things to do other than sitting around in a hospital. Also, getting injured means that you can’t train and for those of us who love what we do, that would be terrible and so safety is ALWAYS a primary concern.


2)We aren’t a bunch of kids that one day decided to jump off a roof for fun. We’ve all trained long and hard at things like landing correctly, including foot placement so we don’t break an ankle, arm or leg, and breakfalls like forward, back, and side rolls to lessen the impact we take from falling.


3)This isn’t a pissing contest. It’s not a discipline that young kids train in, most traceurs are in their early to mid twenties and have been doing sports all of their lives. We don’t “dare” each other to try to jump crazy gaps. We all started with the basics and as our skills improve, so do the things we’re able to do and we continue to grow from there. Don’t go out to bet your friend he can’t jump off the roof because he will and he’ll get seriously hurt or die and you’re both stupid for doing what you did.

Ok, I had to get that out of the way because undoubtedly some idiot is going to start jumping off of crap and break something and claim that he’s doing Parkour and he’s not.

So, I invite EVERYONE who can or wants to to come out to NYC with us on Sunday to watch. We all meet up to train and jam on a regular basis so if you’re interested in learning how to do it, you’ll meet all of us and we’ll be able to get you started. It’s FREE and it’ll be a lot of fun so definitely come out.

The New Yorker will be taking pictures and there will be a ton of reporters and press agents there for magazines, newspapers, and tv shows so chances are your face will end up somewhere. Haha So for all the girls that come out to shoots or events with me and complain that they looked “like shit” this is fair warning. Haha It’s a public event, there will be people there taking pictures.

That’s it all. I’m gonna head back out and finish my workout for today. I’m getting ready for the weekend. Hope to see you guys there!!!




~ by Walter on October 4, 2007.

One Response to “How to be a Superhero (In Real Life)”

  1. […] Interesting Blog Entry Add I found this one while surfing for other superhero’s like me. It caught my eye. How to be a Superhero (In Real Life) […]

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