Monday, December 26, 2011

History: My Response to the Barclaycard World Free Running Champs 2009

Another post from my old parkour blog that I've nearly finished shutting down. Enjoy!

From August 2009

I don't think I can respond to this event in a positive way. I've listed a few quotes from the vids (which you can view here), along with a few of my random thoughts. This is not the same as a carefully thought out response - just an instinctive response which gives you an idea of how I think. I tried to be positive where I could but it was really hard. Hopefully those of you who have met me, trained with me, and have seen how positive I normally try to be, will realise just how much of a rebuke these comments are towards this event:

On defining free running: "...fastest way from A to B, throwing in some flips and tricks to spice things up..." Nobody in the champs were trying to go from A to B in a fast way. These bozos are just piggybacking on the true roots of parkour when they say stuff like that.

"...all about freedom of expression..." How does this line up with A to B in a fast way? Is trying to please the crowd being free or is it actually just the opposite?

All about showing off to the crowd really. 8000 people, T.V. cameras. What message is this sending? Is it one that's worth supporting?

" running can be dangerous, so know your limits..." "...two of the first three competitors injured..." Again, what message is this sending. Sounds very confusing to me. Just a collection of phrases that sound good being thrown out to the young and impressionable crowd for their absorption and to get them hyped up. Vague philosophical foundations with no real substance. The same thing you get in religious circles from the charlatans who are just out for money. Injuries of this frequency are unheard of in elite competitive sports. Imagine losing 20% of your country's olympic team on competition day. Madness. Competition already encourages an attitude towards safety that we don't want to see in parkour, this seems much worse than that even. I wouldn't be so upset if they said it how it was, i.e. we like jumping of stuff and doing big moves that everyone can go "wow" at.

"...5 year background in break dancing before he started pk, parkour, whatever you want to call it [chuckle] - free running for this evening..." Tim is a legend. It's a shame he's involved in this. I wonder if it was rigged somehow since his good friend Damien Walters was a judge. Still a bloody talented dude though. It's probably not as far fetched as it sounds since EZ comes from a boxing background and has been known for a while for dodgy business practice.

EZ giving a reason why Blue didn't get into the final: "...he was trying to be too sensible in his approach..." Implies Blue should have been more reckless.

" front of 8000 people, there's a lot of pressure on them..." Definitely something we want to distance ourselves from.

"...that's what it takes - solid training..." Yeeha! But I can't help but feel that this positive message is greatly overshadowed by the hype and the meaninglessness of the rest of their propaganda.

From the German lad who got 3rd place, being asked about the crowd influence/distraction: " soon as I jumped, I didn't see anything more, except the obstacles..." Shot bro! He also moved one of the best and had a few more natural variations of movements.

From the winner (Livewire): "...I just wanna train every day like I've been doing..." " creative as possible..." "...inspire other people to open their mind..." You, sir, are a legend! This just goes to show how out of place you are at this event Tim...

An overly excited audience member by the sound of it: "...somebody tried to do a flip of the stairs and landed flat on his back..." and the response to this incident from EZ: "...start slow, stay low, take your time, be sensible..."

I'm all for some level of performance (which is necessary to inspire others) but anything that hypes people up to do stuff in a crazy way rather than inspiring them to be a better person is going too far. There is a big difference between having your mind engaged when you are inspired and getting a rush of blood to the head that blocks reasonable thought and inhibits a healthy appreciation of danger.