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Gymnastics + Parkour = Awesome
May 25, 2009 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Damien Walters combines fantastic gymnastic ability with innovative parkour techniques. His ShowReel 2009 impressed me. He and the Derby City Gym Lads just "messing around" amazed me. But he and his incredibly talented kids horsing around made me a fan and made my day.

All videos contain loud-ish music, but some great choices in my opinion.

Bonus Video: His ShowReel 2007.
posted by lazaruslong (48 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
2:40 seconds in the "kids video" made me burst out laughing.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2009


I love how the kids actually look like they are having fun. A bit different from most of the (Olympic) gymnastics we are exposed to.
posted by grouse at 1:13 PM on May 25, 2009


A lot of what Walters does is called Free Running.

Be sure to check out Levi Meeuwenberg's Free Running show reel.

Popular Science: The Physics of Free Running.
posted by ericb at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2009


Sébastien Foucan and Joss PAWA on the meaning of "free running."
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on May 25, 2009


Channel 4 documentary: Jump Britain [49:13].
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on May 25, 2009


I'll bet this guy is a great diver too.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 1:35 PM on May 25, 2009


So is this going to be the next genre for the Step Up / FormalvsInformal dance/art/etc. love story?

Professional male gymnast falls in love with the parkour / free running woman, who then gives him the extra twist to his routine to win the big state championship, or what have you.

(that being said, I think these videos are awesome)
posted by mrzarquon at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2009


Professional male gymnast falls in love

No, that wouldn't work because of the general public suspicion that all male gymnasts are gay. She' have to be a classically trained gymnast from the rich part of town, and he a street-wise parkour-running guy from the wrong side of the tracks.

You could save a lot of money as well, by just pasting bits of script from, say, Flashdance & Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:19 PM on May 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


(besides, you can't do parkour in leotards. she'd need to be in a gym for the eyecandy factor. he, on the other hand, can run around abandoned factories in camo urban assault shorts with his shirt off; that way, everybody's happy)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:21 PM on May 25, 2009


Amazing stuff, although some of it looked like you could do yourself some damage by a borked landing.
posted by panboi at 2:21 PM on May 25, 2009


I bet he is really, really dizzy.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 2:24 PM on May 25, 2009


I remember doing this as a kid. Glad it is finally getting the recognition it deserves. They used to call it "resisting arrest".
posted by hal9k at 2:36 PM on May 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


Am I too old to learn how to do this?
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:17 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, that wouldn't work because of the general public suspicion that all male gymnasts are gay.

Totally. Now, dancers, on the other hand...
posted by Sys Rq at 3:21 PM on May 25, 2009


I've always thought of parkour as, to a certain extent, an extension about what it was like to be running around as a kid. You just buzzed all over and anything could be turned into something to bounce off of (and yes, often fall on/into) and zoomed across. Those kids know what is up, I tell ya.

Heck, when I was a kid we did stuff like that! In the snow! On roller skates! Uphill both ways! Eating trans fats and processed sugars! On lawns! Without helmets!
posted by Salmonberry at 3:58 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hoooooly 1:18, Batman.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:17 PM on May 25, 2009


nice.
posted by brevator at 5:00 PM on May 25, 2009


When does the "Parkour Isn't A Crime" revolution start?
posted by FormlessOne at 5:11 PM on May 25, 2009


Am I too old to learn how to do this?

Uhh... how old are you?
posted by delmoi at 5:25 PM on May 25, 2009


No, that wouldn't work because of the general public suspicion that all male gymnasts are gay. She' have to be a classically trained gymnast from the rich part of town, and he a street-wise parkour-running guy from the wrong side of the tracks.

No no, you're missing out on the new narrative possibilities opened up by the acceptance of gays. The girl from the wrong side of the tracks convinces the gymnast not only to funk it up, but also of his own heterosexuality!
posted by delmoi at 5:29 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fantastic post. I've watched a number of parkour, acrobatic and mixed acrobatics vids now, and these have to be some of the best I've seen. More than muscle power; that man has serious grace.

My main question is, while I can understand incremental increases in skill from merely nearly super-human to full on super-human, how does one begin such a thing without breaking their neck? (I suspect the answer is be made of rubber, aka: age 6)

Second, can anyone in the know tell me if straight-up acrobatics has, like other athletic pursuits, been the subject of much improvement generally over the years? I don't recall seeing anything as high energy as that kids video in my youth (yes, I know it was sped up; I'm talking about the transfer of energy from one move to the next).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:38 PM on May 25, 2009


delmoi: "Am I too old to learn how to do this?

Uhh... how old are you?
"

38. And it's an honest question. I missed out on sports as a kid, and have only recently realized that I like running around.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:53 PM on May 25, 2009


My personal suggestion? Don't try it in the library.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:12 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cirque de Soleil won't be wanting for world-class performers, that's for sure. I look forward to seeing what these kids can do in five to ten years.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:55 PM on May 25, 2009


Also, I watch these stunts and every joint in my body aches in sympathy. Getting old...
posted by five fresh fish at 6:57 PM on May 25, 2009


Stuff like this usually makes me feel astonished that I share the same, you know, SPECIES with guys like this.
posted by Richat at 7:48 PM on May 25, 2009


Wow! I live in Canada and have watched with interest while that new Obama guy sets about putting his stamp on the US of A. But watching this, I realize I missed the day he enacted the Repeal of the Law of Gravity. Nice to see some folks are already making the most of it. Amazing what you can do when you're not hamstrung by the universal constant pulling you towards the centre of the Earth, like we still are up here on our half of the continent.
posted by Mike D at 8:14 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


My main question is, while I can understand incremental increases in skill from merely nearly super-human to full on super-human, how does one begin such a thing without breaking their neck? (I suspect the answer is be made of rubber, aka: age 6)

Parkour has gained enough momentum that I am sure you could find a specific training course to pursue to that effect. Barring that, I think it's certainly possible with enough cross training and gymnastic training to "begin" as an adult.

As far as the neck thing goes, that got me too! I imagine being fit and strong with good muscles in the neck helps with that too.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:17 PM on May 25, 2009


Second, can anyone in the know tell me if straight-up acrobatics has, like other athletic pursuits, been the subject of much improvement generally over the years? I don't recall seeing anything as high energy as that kids video in my youth (yes, I know it was sped up; I'm talking about the transfer of energy from one move to the next).

Did you realize they're on a trampoline-like floor in a lot of the gym shots? It's a training aid and allows the super high jumps that let people learn the flips and twists better and also reduces concussion.
posted by fshgrl at 8:35 PM on May 25, 2009


38. And it's an honest question. I missed out on sports as a kid, and have only recently realized that I like running around.

I know that feeling, and I'm only 25; I have a bone-structure problem in my legs that has zero effect on my life day-to-day but prevents me from ever running or playing almost any sports. Drives me nuts sometimes. Lately I'm finding that biking makes up for a lot of the lack.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:24 PM on May 25, 2009


Watching that demo reel made my knees bleed.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:38 PM on May 25, 2009


Is it my imagination, or does the way the video was cut suggest that not a single one of those kids managed to stick the landing?
posted by darksasami at 10:39 PM on May 25, 2009


contain loud-ish music

loud clipped.

SQUARE WAVES ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND
posted by flaterik at 12:26 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some science fiction author (I think Heinlein, but I'm not sure) described a gymnastic activity performed on the moon. One swung and bounced about amongst bars crossing a high, open expanse of air, gracefully ascending and decending.

These videos bring that to mind, and also bring to mind my own dreams of flying, which often kind of resemble gymnastics.

And let me take this opportunity to raise a pet issue: Why aren't gymnastic athletes the most revered in our society? It seems perfectly clear, to me, that they are the most all-round fit and capable of any athletic discipline. And that is apart from the fact that this results in their being the most good to see.

I look back on the horrible relationship I had with "sports" as a kid, and consider the alternative. Had they showed me videos like this, and said, "Kid, you wanna learn to fly?", I'd have abandoned my bookish ways in a flash. Instead, it was "Kid, you wanna become a 250 pound brainless hulk?".
posted by Goofyy at 2:50 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


First time I ever saw Free Running was in this scene in Casino Royale. I found it interesting that they had Bond keep up just by brute force, bashing his way through things.
posted by Ber at 6:19 AM on May 26, 2009


I look back on the horrible relationship I had with "sports" as a kid, and consider the alternative. Had they showed me videos like this, and said, "Kid, you wanna learn to fly?", I'd have abandoned my bookish ways in a flash. Instead, it was "Kid, you wanna become a 250 pound brainless hulk?".

This touches on something very visceral for me. Huh.

We really should do more to move past typical stereotypes. I would have been very very excited by watching something like this as a child.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:44 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling that I wouldn't have lived past 15 if I'd seen videos like this as a kid. (But I woulda gone out having fun!)
posted by LordSludge at 8:15 AM on May 26, 2009


...that new Obama guy sets about putting his stamp on the US of A. But watching this, I realize I missed the day he enacted the Repeal of the Law of Gravity.

Damien Walters lives in the U.K.
posted by ericb at 8:19 AM on May 26, 2009


First time I ever saw Free Running was in this scene in Casino Royale.

That's stunt double Curtis Rowland Small who worked in the film with Sébastien Foucan (mentioned above), considered the founder of Free Running.
posted by ericb at 8:27 AM on May 26, 2009


I am so incredibly turned on.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 8:46 AM on May 26, 2009


Parkour is **so** mid-'00s.

Personally, I don't want to see another parkour anything, unless it involves them falling off buildings, at least twenty stories.
posted by markkraft at 9:16 AM on May 26, 2009


Did you realize they're on a trampoline-like floor in a lot of the gym shots?

I noticed but thought of it more as a spring board replacement than a trampoline. But that does probably account for it. The bounce of a trampoline without the air time.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:12 AM on May 26, 2009


The enjoyability of a youtube video is often inversely proportional to the enjoyability of its music.
posted by hpliferaft at 10:39 AM on May 26, 2009


Only somewhat related, but hole-leeee crap!
posted by LordSludge at 11:19 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why aren't gymnastic athletes the most revered in our society?

My guess is because it's a sport that favours twelve year old girls? Not that the physical achievements of pre-pubertal females aren't worth celebrating, or that males aren’t good gymnasts, but I think it’s tainted by association.
posted by Phalene at 7:50 PM on May 26, 2009


I am so incredibly turned on.

You and me both. Those men...
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:01 PM on May 26, 2009


Damien's gonna be doing stunts on Kick Ass.

(I used to live in Derby... never saw anything like that at the time, pity)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:36 AM on June 3, 2009


Just watched another video. The dude lives in the world of the Matrix. Some of his stunts just don't seem possible.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 AM on June 3, 2009


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