Giving truth to Memphis youth
By Desmond Catron (K.I.P.P.)
If you ask most teens around Memphis, “What’s parkour?” many will tell you that it’s a new sport that is different from most.
The earliest forms of the art of parkour have been brought into being by Georges Hebert, who was a physical instructor in the French Marines in both World War I and II. In his time in the war, he had developed a system of physical education called the “Natural Method.”
“You have to be real gutsy to do crazy stunts like flying off one building to the next and going through obstacles like tables, walls, and balconies as if it were hopscotch,” declared Rodney Malone, sophomore at KIPP Memphis Collegiate High.
But in the eyes of a bona fide professional, parkour is much more than just tricking and flipping.
Jonathan McCarver, parkour trainer at Co-Motion Studio located at 416 N. Cleveland, is a talented traceur (a practitioner of parkour). From vaults to rolls, McCarver knows it all, but in his humble style of performing parkour, he’s not really one to show off.
“Parkour isn’t really a show-off type of sport, it’s really one of the only sport that is really about self- development, you know, doing what you feel your body is ready to do, self-determination, and grit,” he said. “You learn to push yourself, and in due course pick up your pace to become a proficient traceur.”
McCarver’s co-worker, Daniel Lester who is a competitive traceur, talked about what the most useful tool a person can get from taking up on the art of parkour is while practicing skills in Overton Park.
“The art of parkour wins over any negativity or stress and overturns it into a positive and favorable effect on the psyche, body, and the essence of our souls because you become more au fait on what you could do as a person if you work hard and keep a focused drive in everyday life,” Lester said. “We, as the human race are capable of shaping how great we want to be in life. In order to be great, we have to apply a lot of work and effort to accomplish our dreams, but anything is possible for a man who is dedicated and takes falling down with a good attitude.”
“The final goal of physical education is to make strong beings (not only physically but mentally). The Natural Method (parkour) promotes the qualities of organic resistance, muscularity and speed, towards being able to walk, run, jump, move on all fours, to climb, to keep balance, to throw, lift, defend yourself, and to swim,” Georges Hebert once said.
Unlike free running-doing straight up flips and tricks- parkour is about the love, effort and perfecting technique of the art. Parkour teaches its practitioners to be precise and never to give up no matter how difficult or challenging the obstacle course of life puts them through. With any extreme sport however, there are risks associated with the sport, so before attempting parkour seek professional advice and training.