When running on flat ground isn’t enough.
You have definitely wished there was a way to get to places faster without having to drive. Using your own body and natural surroundings, parkour has been flown all the way from France to introduce to you the answer. Tracing paths in a fluid motion and easing the way past obstacles with attention-grabbing tricks, Malaysians are ready to take extreme to a new level—in style. You will be flipping through courses as fast as you want and feeling the power of doing things you never thought you could. Be ready to jump and flip your way to the next parkour meet!
PARKOUR: BE THE MOVEMENT
You see them in movies, you see them on YouTube, and you definitely see them in parks and just about anywhere you can jump off from. These daredevils defy the laws of gravity with their stunts and moves that make one gasp for breath. What they are doing is free running, also known as parkour. Originated in France, parkour, the ancestor art of free running, was first developed from military obstacle course training and practiced by Raymond Belle and his son David Belle, starting with self-styled Yamakasi. However, parkour is more than just seeing fearless practitioners perform groovy stunts. It actually is a way of passing obstacles in a fluid movement without any limitations.
Parkour is no stranger to Malaysia, as we have seen our young countrymen flipping off tables, doing handstands, and performing backflips. A visionary youngster and practitioner, 21-year-old Hatta Yang saw this as an opportunity to expand the sport in the country. Through having a curious mind, Hatta picked up tricks and styles from fellow senior practitioners and couldn’t stop practicing them ever since. Along with two of his close friends, Ilmi and Iman, parkour started becoming a big deal amongst the Malaysian crowd. Parkour jumped into the local scene in between 2006 and 2007, taking over gymnastics in the popularity standings. It started out with a small group of roughly 10 people, who formed the community known to us as Parkour Malaysia (PKMY), and it has been growing fast throughout the country since.
AOXM FLIPS INTO MALAYSIA
Hatta isn’t just a practitioner of the sport but also an entrepreneur who founded the Malaysia’s first parkour-orientated gymnasium called Art of Extreme Movement (AOXM). AOXM was established in March 2014 in a warehouse around Sunway, with the idea cooking in Hatta’s mind since early 2012. What drove this idea was the fact that there were no safe places to practice such a sport that is prone to injuries. The 18-year-old Hatta started saving and collecting money with his friends to make his dream of a gym come true.
AOXM is a fully equipped parkour gym with every essential for safety. Parkour started off as a hobby for Hatta and his friends, a group of youngsters practicing the sport over a few years, and now AOXM has become a home for all who love the sport.
In the dawn of a new era, sports are getting riskier and more dangerous than before. Parkour is no different as it requires proper momentum, core strength, and agility to perform. There are many kinds of skills that parkour can equip you with. For example, the first ever skill is the Yamakasi, which translates as the strength of one person performing the art of movement.
Another would be the ‘traceur’, which would mean to trace a path. Other stunts consist of precision jumping, cat leap, wall run and wall flip. These stunts are commonly used in parkour films like Malaysian-made ‘Rentap’, hence intriguing people to learn and practice. Parkour is seen to be cool as it allows you to perform and cross-difficult paths in a quick and nifty manner, based on one’s capabilities.
No sport is without injuries. No sport is perfect without constant practice, which usually leads to numerous bumps and bruises. As you have seen on movies and YouTube videos, stunts performed by parkour practitioners are hard to follow and dangerous if not done the right way and preparation. Injuries that are commonly incurred are injuries in the knees, ankles, thighs, as free runners are required to jump distances and off high grounds.
Dangers lay in the risks that you take as parkour challenges the laws of gravity by playing with different levels of heights, impacts upon your legs, and even problems to your ACL and UCL if unprepared for landing.
There are proper warm-ups needed to be done, leading to your run. Squats are best for knees and ankles, while rope-jumping and simple jumping exercises are great for strengthening legs. On the other hand, push-ups and pull-ups are imperative as they improve your upper body strength and hand grips, which are needed to pull yourself up from ledges and walls. The stronger your muscles are, the less likely you’ll obtain injuries. Parkour is not just about warming up selected areas, as it is a sport that requires energy from all parts of the body. Another way of preparing yourself is by going for a good quick jog or run to heighten your adrenaline. In parkour, the faster you run, the further you jump. Practitioners practice the technique of striding, which is to run with bigger steps to strengthen your leg muscles.
You don’t need expensive gears or apparels to do parkour. Your environment is your playground. Everything you see around you can be used for stunts and tricks. It’s a matter of perspective where you see high ledges as dangerous, while practitioners see them as steps for tricks.
Parkour is all about your willingness to learn, not just physically but mentally as well. Fear is the common threat that holds a person from performing. One needs to be mentally strong before one can do something. All you need for parkour is your courage, comfortable clothes—ones that don’t restrict free movement—and a pair of light, soft and flexible shoes with strong grip. Best place for a beginner would be trampoline parks like JumpStreet PJ, next to JayaOne, and Flip Out at Space U8 in Shah Alam, as well as gymnastic gymnasiums. The trampolines allow extra air time for people doing flips as they give you more time to understand your body and think of the best body positioning.
As flips are usually the first set of tricks people want to learn, you need to know the idea of how to do backflips before doing it. It has to be done with the proper techniques to avoid unwanted injuries, and that’s why trampoline parks and gymnastic gymnasiums are best for that reason and provide you with safety pads. In AOXM, they practice a 3-men-support technique when teaching beginners how to do flips: one does the flip, while the other two support and assist.
It has been said that parkour started becoming famous in Malaysia since the Fit Malaysia event 2014/2015, which aimed to promote a healthy lifestyle through the Get Fit For Life campaign. AOXM travelled around Malaysia and was even hired to introduce parkour, where they taught the crowd how to do tricking, free running and street workout. Major parkour events in Malaysia are Fit Malaysia, organized by the Ministry of Youth & Sports; Hari Sukan Negara, an event to promote and expand extreme sports; and the Annual Jam that is hosted by AOXM at the end of the year, inviting practitioners from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Germany, among other countries, for a parkour-community jam out session. AOXM has even been cast in the theatre production of Puteri Gunung Ledang.
Parkour has turned from a hobby to a career for the group as they foresee future collaborations in movies, commercial videos, events, performances, and have been hosting workshops and classes in schools and gymnasiums. AOXM has transformed from a gym into a group who teaches people interested in the sport and performs at events.
Closing their warehouse gym in Sunway, AOXM now collaborates with JumpStreet PJ to teach interested participants under two categories: Parkour/Freerunning and Tricking classes are offered on Fridays and Saturdays, with prices ranging from RM40 for 2 hours per class. AOXM offers a package deal for classes as well: classes for RM160 (RM32 per class) and 10 classes for RM300 (RM30 per class). You learn to do the basic tricks like backflips, front flips, side flips, dive rolls, aerial, cartwheels, side roll, precision jumping and striding, among others.
Parkour isn’t as hard as it seems. Parkour is in your daily lifestyle, only done slicker and faster.
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