Australian traceuse and writer Amy Han has recently publish a beautiful blog post about her experience within the Australian PK community during the last year. Particular as it relates to F.I.G. latest grab for control of the artform. We think it's well worth the read, and have included an except here.
On Community, Leadership, and Parkour: what I have learnt from the whole FIG saga and the Australian parkour community
“He said that [we] already have competitions. However, the competitions are not ones of war, battling for who is better. The competitions are about helping. Who can help the most people and spread their knowledge. There are no medals or prizes. The competitions are when different people meet up and share their views in order to teach and learn from each other. By doing this, you become the best as you show you are useful and helpful. The more people you help, the more useful you have become…you win.” – from Cali Meets David Belle, 2006
In 2006, the Australian Parkour Association (APA) was founded and inspired by the best information it could access at the time. It was before ‘YouTube Parkour’. Before Generation Yamakasi was easily accessible in English. Before Facebook groups and events. It was before any of the founding members of the discipline ran official workshops anywhere, let alone all the way on our side of the world. Since then, the Australian parkour community has grown to include hundreds of practitioners, and several community groups, all over the country.
‘The whole FIG saga’ I refer to in the title is basically the story of how an ‘innovative, urban sport’ (parkour) was ‘brought under the aegis’ (read: protection, control) of the Federation of International Gymnastics. Read FIG’s statement for the ‘I’m sorry, what?’ version, or this Guardian article for a nice summary of the full story.
This year has felt a little like watching an addictive Netflix series, at least in the parkour side of my life. I have questioned why anyone would want to be leaders in anything when it exposes you to so much criticism from people who are not willing to try to step into your shoes. I have questioned what community even means if it is divided into many pockets. I have felt torn between wanting to stay in what feels, at times, like ‘the ring’ – being visible (and vulnerable), sharing what I do, what I love, to help it reach others who might also gain from it – versus stepping away from it all, simply training in my own zone, in peace: no classes, no events, no social media. I have felt incredibly inspired, and also deeply disappointed. The two extremes of all my thought processes cancel each other out, leaving me with nothing but to ask: how do you really feel? What do you believe?
From the muddiness and growing pains that come with change, a few sentences keep returning to the surface. As with most things ‘parkour’, they aren’t just about parkour, but are applicable to almost everything.