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Parkour Connoisseurs
Text and photographs by Zhou Jiamin

 

Practitioners of parkour not only sweat a lot, they are also vulnerable to injuries.          Practitioners of parkour not only sweat a lot, they are also vulnerable to injuries.          On weekends, parkour traceurs are frequently seen practicing in Rihu Park, Ningbo.

An important aspect of parkour is its coolness. So, making movements clearer and more jaw-dropping is what all traceurs pursue. “But don’t think of this as simply showing off,” Zhu adds. “It is more about challenging yourself and surpassing your previous limitations. This is what parkour, an extreme sport, is meant to do. Just as we nimbly overcome various barriers in parkour, we face similar roadblocks in daily life, and the sport helps build confidence and morale in every aspect of life.”

These young people come together because they share the same love for the sport. They hail from every part of the country and work in different trades. They also face internal problems. For example, some core members have had to leave because of employment or graduation. Also, they lack funding for group drills. “We need some commercial performances in addition to training and charity performances,” Zhu concedes. “In some big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, some traceurs have quit their day jobs. They pay the bills merely through commercial training programs, commercial performances and endorsements. But in second-tier cities such as Ningbo, traceurs cannot survive on commercial performance.”

However, Zhu’s biggest headache is the lack of a fixed training venue. In parks and squares, void of training apparatuses or protection facilities, it’s easy to get hurt. Beginners are even more likely to get injured. Recently, Zhu has organized training in a venue where he works when it’s vacant. “Some somersaults are very dangerous,” Zhu sighs. “If a traceur falls, he’ll probably break bones, but a practice facility with foam-rubber cushions guarantees safety.”

Zhu and his fellow traceurs are constantly brainstorming solutions to the myriad problems facing their young discipline. Zhu says that they will work on commercial training, organizing commercial performances and shooting movies and TV programs. Zhu has been talking with investors about constructing a new parkour training venue. A fixed location for training would attract even more young people to join.

To parkour practitioners, the sport has become an indispensable part of life. They love the sport, work hard at it, become more active in life, and believe they can climb to greater heights that were once unreachable.  

 

 

 

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