le ParkourThere is a new sport coming from France which perfectly illustrates what I meant by playful appropriation by mastership. It’s called le Parkour. From the tutorial we learn:

It’s a melting pot of gymnastic, rock climbing, trekking, martial arts for the philosophy, snowboard for the fun, and athletism. […] Put your physical capacity on obstcales which are not made for it and where the movement is necessary this is the parkour. […] Be careful with the police. They are quite cool over here but we don’t know about your country […] Please respect the people and the city.

Nevertheless the activities very much look like training for escaping fom the police as fast as possible—and indeed independent sources confirmed that this exactly is where le Parkour stems from. The gist of it is to run and jump through the city on new paths, whereby running and motion seems crucial. As I understand the matter, going up a building rockclimber-style would not qualify as Parkour. Dynamic movements are asked for [which of course are a part of climbing too, alas only since about the 1970s, some exceptions granted, like jumping from sandstone-needle to sandstone-needle in the Elbsandsteingebirge-climbers’ tradition/school]. Sometimes effectiveness is father to a move, sometimes aesthetics, even humour. The cityscape’s artefacts are stripped from its intended modes of use and are inscribed with a new meaning: gymnastic apparatus. Le Parkour is the impro-jazz of gymnastics—the formalized-for-competition gymnastic apparatusses in turn are seen as a means of training.

Check out le Parkour’s video-pages: samplers, specials—the samplers are ‘authentic’, the ‘specials’ refined, including television-features and commercials. In the clips you’ll see some moves which seem banal—but, while watching, imagine to do it yourself. Then there are some outright daring and dangerous stunts, performed high above concrete ground. And there are a lot of smaller tricks, real gems with surprising twists. My favourite is the fake jump over a handrail. At least some of the guys obviously have a background in gymnastics—and word has it that several of them already made it into Jackie Chan’s stunt team. But not only Mr. Chan can put le Parkour to good use—I urge everyone doing character-animations for gamemods to get inspired by those videos linked to above.
via e-mail from 2R—tnx

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