Young Hearts Run Free

1.jpgDo you spend much time on YouTube? I don’t. Well, I do sometimes. I find it a pleasant place to pass the time. There are all sorts of interesting things to watch, as well as a lot of dross. They can’t all be winners, kid.

There is, however, one subject area that always grabs my attention, and one keyword search that features in every one of my YouTube sojourns: le parkour.

I’m getting ahead of myself. It all started a couple of years back when I saw a little snippet on Channel 4. It was one of those little ‘shorts’ that tend to get aired just before your intended viewing starts. This one was probably about two minutes long.

It featured a young lad, probably 14 or so, who was telling us all about his hobby. He was ‘really into it’, although he wasn’t sure that his mum shared his enthusiasm. My prejudices kicked in, I’m afraid. Maybe because he wore a white tracksuit, and had one of those mouths that stay open between sentences, I assumed that his new pastime was robbing cars. But then they showed some footage of him engrossed in his hobby, which made me sit up and pay attention.

It turned out that this chap spent quite a long time running around in urban environments, climbing vertical surfaces, leaping between buildings, and basically negotiating a whole gamut of man-made obstacles with a flair and dexterity that boggled the eye. He’d dubbed himself ‘the monkey boy’ or something suitably grandiose, but I’d no idea that this practice enjoyed wider appeal.

Le parkour (the art of displacement) or free-running has an excellent definition on Wikipedia. We’re told that the aim is ‘to move from point A to point B as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the possibilities of the human body’. Some have described it as a martial art, but as one concerned with techniques of escape rather than combat.

For an excellent YouTube offering which sets le parkour within an escape narrative, click here.

Now, is it just me, or does all this look rather fun? Take away the machine gun-wielding thugs, and I would wager that le parkour might be a fine way to pass an afternoon. I’ve found myself wondering whether it is the sort of thing one could learn. It’s really just gymnastics with a grittier, urban edge, and without the crash mats. I think there’s something rather noble about the idea of using one’s strength and wits to overcome the detritus of civilisation. And in making videos of one doing it. I would love to make the sort of parkour video of which the YouTube community might think ‘this vid is tiiiiiight’.

It was with some regret that I realised I’ll never be able to do anything like this. At 27, I’m a touch on the old side for starting this sort of thing, so I suspect that the good ship HMS Parkour has well and truly set sail. After all, you’ll never get a gymnast worth their salt starting out at 27.

So. I’m guessing that my gangly limbs will never be put to this interesting and exciting use, which is a little bit sad. But in my hour of desolation, who better than YouTube to keep me in touch with reality and thus provide me with emotional solace? I’ve got two particular keywords in mind:

parkour accident

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4 Comments on “Young Hearts Run Free”

  1. J Says:

    It is cool izznit? If you like it, make a point of renting the French film Banlieu 13 (a.k.a. District 13) if you want to see Parkour done by the inventor.

    J

  2. neebsuk Says:

    Good reference to “Bad Santa”… it did not go unnoticed;

    Funny how things turn out eh?

  3. Doug Says:

    J – I keep meaning to see it. Having had a look on YouTube, I wonder if the above link is a scene from this film?

    Regardless, it’s next on my list.

    Neeb suk – Well spotted. Yes, it is funny how things turn out. Not in Bad Santa, though. It certainly ain’t no Anchorman.

  4. J Says:

    Yes – it’s from the film.

    It gets better!

    J


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