Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where are things going in the NZ parkour scene? (History)

Another historical post

March 9th 2009:
Compared to much of the rest of the world, we have a fairly small and undeveloped parkour scene in New Zealand. That's not to say that we're not growing and developing. We are. Here are a couple of things that are developing around the country.
  • This year saw the first official national parkour gathering run by Physical Graffiti in Wellington. During Waitangi weekend around 70 people (by my estimate) came from all over the country. You can read more about the gathering here.
  • Local groups are getting into more regular training and are training smarter. This can be seen through the discussion of training strategies on the nzparkour.com forum and I have personally seen some great stuff at the various local trainings I've visited outside of Hamilton.
  • There is a growing number of traceurs that began parkour within the last year or two who have passed through the "beginner phase". What makes this important is that they have come through without being put off by the cautions and firm words of advice about safe training from other members of the nz parkour community. Generally, to survive the social pressure this long, they have had to adapt their training according to this advice and are now promoting good parkour. It also helps that people are getting older and more independent in their training. Parkour is very attractive to teenagers and we see many come and go. The teenagers that have stuck with it are moving into their late teens and early twenties now, providing more maturity and experience to the scene.
  • Various beginners sessions are being run
  • Professional video productions are being released from time to time
  • Groups are performing demonstrations at events
This sounds like a lot, but compared to the world scene we are just beginning. We also have fairly low numbers of people practising regularly though, as I've indicated above, this is growing steadily.

NZ Parkour Association?
The idea of a NZ parkour association of sorts has been raised from time to time over the last couple of years.  Why this hasn't happened yet is largely due to our low numbers. Recently a need has become more obvious to provide an official group to represent parkour in NZ. An organisation seems to be required who can be a contact for media to provide informed commentary on parkour related news/events, direct film makers towards traceurs who can assist with video production or stunt type of work. Inevitably tied up with media things is the need to have parkour positively promoted and faithfully represented. An authority in other words.

There are some dangers of course. Is it possible to have some sort of regulation of parkour without killing the "freedom" of the scene? Does the nzparkour.com website function as enough of an authority to meet these needs? How can an association be set up that is safe from corruption and commercialism? How do we navigate through the mess of opinions within the NZ scene while having genuine authority within such an association? Who would be involved and how is the balance of power safely guarded? All of these questions and more will need to be discussed, but it is clear to many NZ traceurs that an association is becoming more necessary. We do have the advantage of seeing what the rest of the world has already put into place. Parkour Generations, for instance, are a good model for a group that has positively promoted parkour while contributing in a useful way to their local (non-parkour) community.

It seems inevitable that parkour will be misrepresented for many years to come by the adrenaline junkies and crowd pleasers, and it seems inevitable that an association in NZ will be formed in part to combat this but also to present parkour in keeping with the French founders desires. It is only a matter of time, but whoever is involved in this process must be aware of the cautions raised and primarily the problem of doing it with the blessing of the wider parkour community without "going maverick" and wrongfully claiming authority and representation.

I look forward to seeing further growth.