The 'bad boys' of parkour fight back

Parkour enthusiasts from local academy Superfly Monkey Dragons (clockwise from bottom left): Mr Daniel Rojas, 41, Mr Michael De Leon, 31, Dr Derrick Siu, 44, and Mr Tareesh Ismail, 19.
Parkour enthusiasts from local academy Superfly Monkey Dragons (clockwise from bottom left): Mr Daniel Rojas, 41, Mr Michael De Leon, 31, Dr Derrick Siu, 44, and Mr Tareesh Ismail, 19.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Parkour may have a bad reputation as some enthusiasts tend to break the law, but its practitioners here say the perception is undeserved.

They said flashy moves are only one part of the overall parkour training, which includes building physical and mental strength.

Parkour, which has been variously described as a movement, a discipline and a sport, was in the spotlight again last week, when a police report was made about stunts done by a foreign parkour group in the Marina Bay area.

The Esplanade said last Tuesday that it was investigating the Nov 2 incident with the police.

In a 12-minute video on YouTube, at least three members of Team Storror were seen jumping between two flyovers and climbing the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre.

This was not the first time that the sport has received unfavourable media attention.

In September, a police report was made after an online video showed practitioners scaling the roof of Eastpoint Mall in Simei.

Such thrill-seekers and potential lawbreakers are a small group and should not be taken as representative of the community as a whole, said parkour practitioners.

National University of Singapore undergraduate Nyan Lin Cho, 23, the president of Parkour Singapore, said: "Parkour Singapore was established to cultivate and govern the sport, and we do not condone practitioners who engage in lawbreaking activities."

The group was set up in 2004 to promote the sport's values such as progress and respect for other practitioners and public spaces. He estimates the community here to number about 4,000, including both active and less-active practitioners.

Dr Derrick Siu, 44, director and founder of parkour academy Superfly Monkey Dragons, said that there is no reason "parkour and the community cannot co-exist harmoniously".

Despite its portrayal in movies like Casino Royale in 2006, showing athletes leaping from one tall building to another, it is not something practised in Singapore as most parkour is done and trained at ground level, he said.

 

He added: "Maybe it is due to a lack of understanding from less experienced practitioners, but doing things like conditioning exercises and strength training are as important as practising the moves."

Parkour instructor Tan Chi Ying, 31, who runs academy A2 Movements, said parkour is about overcoming both personal and physical obstacles. "There is better understanding of the activity over the years, with its practitioners seen as people of good sense who bear no ill intention. Hence, there isn't a need for over-regulation."

Said Dr Siu: "While we cannot control what other individuals or groups do in the name of parkour, what we try to do is to impart some of our guiding principles, including respecting our environment, other people, and having basic common sense and courtesy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2017, with the headline 'The 'bad boys' of parkour fight back'. Print Edition | Subscribe