In every action movie there is that cliche chase scene, either in a car or on foot. The actors leap over buildings and backflip off walls. Sometimes they jump from high heights onto solid ground or backflip over a passerby. These iconic scenes always seem farfetched, only possible with the help of stunt doubles and special effects. However, these incredible chase scenes happen in real life, and it is called Parkour, and one of BHS’ own Ariel Edwards practices it.
Burlington local and sophomore at BHS Ariel Edwards is experienced in Parkour. While Edwards has only been in Vermont for a short amount of time, immigrating from Israel about eight months ago, he already has found a Parkour community.
“ Parkour is more than just a sport. The community behind it is very openminded and it attracts a great group of people,” Edwards said.
Parkour is where the participant tries to get from point A to point B in the most creative way possible. The sport was developed in France, as an art of movement. Participants are coached on how to get to a place in the most creative and efficient way, usually utilizing urban landscapes such as benches, wall, buildings and ledges. Parkour is heavily influenced by gymnastics, martial arts, and running.
There are few gyms or classes that teach parkour in Vermont. This means that many participants are not traditionally coached. The Green Mountain Training Center is Vermont’s only gymnastics training facility that offers coaching in Parkour. While Parkour’s following in Vermont may still be small, ever since the 1980’s people all over the world have been interested in Parkour.
Parkour Generations, the leading Parkour training company, has been around for over a decade, and their movement has spread all over the world. Parkour is popular enough around the world to have a federation, the World Freerunning and Parkour Federation, or WFPF for short. There are competitions, well known professionals within the Parkour community around the world, as well as and training programs.
Edwards first got seriously interested in Parkour about a year ago when his brother’s friend who participates in Parkour showed him the ropes, and from there his interest in Parkour grew.
“I went to an open gym where I met many people. That’s how I made connections with people, and how I got better,” said Edwards.
While the number of Parkour participants is growing, there is still not as big a community as there was in Israel, Edwards explained.
“Here it is not as tightknit as it is in Israel. Many people have said that I am the first person they have met who do this (Parkour),” Edwards said. Israel has a larger Parkour following.
“Very recently a group called Storror came to Israel to make a documentary about Parkour in Israel; Palestinians and Israelis got together at this event,” said Edwards. After that Edwards was inspired to organize a Parkour meet in his town of Jerusalem, “about 40 people came, we had a good time,” said Edwards.
Though there is not a huge following in Burlington, Parkour is slowly becoming more popular. There is even a Champlain College Parkour Club that let Edwards join despite only being in High School. Edwards also trains in at the Green Mountain Training Facility, and while he is not formally coached, professionals give him help and feedback when needed.
Edwards also touched on his experience of the inclusive nature of the sport.
“Doesn’t matter how good you are. It’s about how dedicated you are to the sport,” Edwards said. Edwards added, “If you want to train and get better no one will laugh at you, very inclusive. Everyone is happy together, and it is more than just to win.”
While many would be terrified or feel nauseous while participating in Parkour, Edwards feels like accomplishing an especially hard course is a boost of confidence.
“It is also some amount of adrenaline,” said Edwards. He also explained how Parkour has helped him deal with other issues in life.
“I can go out if I am stressed. I feel that I can be myself and just go. In an odd way it helped me with school. Physical obstacles you have to mentally overcome it first, in real life when there is an obstacle like studying,” Edwards said.
Some people such as police officers, and parents are opposed to Parkour and find the sport dangerous.
“They misunderstand what parkour is. It is making a course for yourself,” Edwards said. Edwards stresses the importance of being fully prepared before attempting a Parkour move in a possibly dangerous setting.
“You have to be 100% consistent,” Edwards said. “It is all about how you train progressively in a gym,” he added. Edwards has his own Parkour Youtube channel where people can watch him and others jump off of structures in Jerusalem and do flips in the air.
“Since I was young I was always interested with making videos. Back then it was just silly skits with my friends,” Edwards said.
“When I started getting into parkour, it was only natural to mix my love for filmmaking and my love for parkour together, also part of what got me into it in the first place was seeing videos of it online, so I just started making videos.” You can check out Edwards’ videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUvSzQ76d5yNLL0hU1QlxDQ
Editor’s Note: The headline of the article has been corrected to include the student’s grade. Edwards’ is a sophomore.