Running, jumping from buildings, and climbing walls sounds like something you’d see in an action film, but you can do it too – it’s called parkour.
The simplest definition of parkour is the fastest way of moving from point “a” to point “b” using the environment around you to your advantage.
“Parkour is not about the most convenient way, but the fastest and most efficient way,” parkour teacher and enthusiast Joey Wells told The Newsroom.
Many people aren’t aware that there is a parkour community in Sydney. They are not necessarily great in numbers, but great in skill.
The community began as a small group of university boys that slowly started seeing more people join them. Today, they often gather weekly, either at locations with the potential to be conquered or at the gym where they can freshen up their skills and teach others.
The Newsroom hung out with some of the boys involved to learn more about their daring hobby. Watching them show off their parkour moves proved that there is much more to it than merely jumping around like a monkey.
“If you needed to get to the other side of a big truck any normal person would just walk around it, but with parkour it’s a different mindset; I would actually go under or over it because that’s faster,” Joey said.
Mixing free-running with parkour is common because it adds a more stylistic side with its acrobatics. Together the combination is more aesthetically pleasing with the end result making a pretty cool skill.
“It’s heaps of fun, but you ideally want to use it in real life situations. One of my parkour friends was in a fight once and someone pulled a knife out. He jumped over a large fence to get away and no one else could do that. It gives you somewhat of an advantage to get out of situations others can’t,” he said.
When the parkour community trains in public, their impressive skills catch the attention of surrounding crowds, but not just the general public is interested in this hobby. Their talent even caught the eye of famous comedian Russell Brand when in Sydney.
“Us boys were training at Barangaroo (Sydney CBD) and we saw what we thought was Russell Brand walking down these stairs by himself with some costume on. We weren’t sure if it actually was him so we just went back to training, and as soon as he saw what we were doing he just came over and watched us. It was cool that he takes interest in parkour,” said Joey.
Russell Brand often talks about parkour on his radio podcast in London.
“He then sat down with us and started just writing like he was paying his bills or something. It was cool.”
Russell Brand; left, Joey Wells; right
As awesome as it sounds (and looks), the activity also has its downsides as injuries are not easily avoidable. Joey Wells told The Newsroom what he’s sustained over the five years he’s trained in parkour.
“I’ve dislocated my shoulder and have gotten stitches in my nose. The nose injury was fine because the stitches eventually came out, but I was in a sling for six weeks due to my shoulder. Recovery was tougher than I thought because it wasn’t just physical it was mental. It was hard to come back with the same amount of confidence.”
Regardless of the risks presented, parkour can really be done by anyone. According to Joey Wells, it isn’t only a life skill, it’s about overcoming mental barriers.
“On Sundays at our training gym, we have these two ladies in their 60s come in and do parkour. So when I say ‘anyone can do it’ – I really mean it,” he said.
“Training used to be more serious, but the training style has changed now and it’s mainly done for fun, which is important. Parkour is already big, but I’d like to see it grow and teach people that it’s more than just a hobby. You can actually use it.”
Watch the parkour community in action here:
– Video edit and story by Xantre Macaraeg
Photos and video footage supplied by Joey Wells and Xantre Macaraeg.