INTERESTING. NOVEL. PARKOUR IS INCREASINGLY GAINING POPULARITY, EVEN IN THE RATHER PHYSICALLY SEDENTARY SINGAPORE. TRAINING BOTH THE BODY AND MIND, SHOWCASING VISUALLY AESTHETIC FEATS, PARKOUR IS MORE THAN JUST A QUICK WAY AROUND OBSTACLES.
Effortlessly flipping over barriers and jumping across walls, parkour instructor Tan Chi Ying makes short work of obstacles before him. An avid fan of parkour since childhood, the 30-year-old is also the founder and manager of his own parkour academy A2 Movements.
Chi Ying’s students range from as young as 4 to over 80 years old, thus proving that parkour has no age limits. Instead, it utilises values like endurance and creativity to perform the fluid movements involved, which flow more naturally than the rigid everyday postures of the body.
Darryl Chan, a first-year student at the academy, is an upholder of such values, demonstrating the ability to overcome obstacles like railings in various ways. Creativity in seeing new uses of everyday objects is a skill most traceurs develop with practice, proving that it's not only the body parkour benefits.
Before he started training in parkour, Darryl, a school student, spent most of his time studying at home until his mother eagerly wanted him to 'get out of the house'. The Darryl we meet today has a rare maturity for a sixteen-year-old, a testament to the discipline necessary in parkour.
Kyra Rawat, 7, and Tan Quan Pan, 20, are challengers of the attribution of parkour only to men. While Kyra, a kids' class attendee, and regular-class participant Quan Pan do experience slight physical inhibitions in the practice, with enough training they are just as capable as men in executing movements.
According to Quan Pan, a university student,
"[When] You come here you don't just learn parkour. It's also [about] making friends, learning the tradition, this way of life, this movement, together...you just bond and help each other...it helps you to be a better person, not just physically but also emotionally."
Parkour, established in 1997, is indeed relatively young, but it has, in recent years, through popular movies and games like Assassin’s Creed and District 13, become increasingly popular locally and internationally. Contrary to popular belief, it’s nowhere as dangerous as portrayed to be, provided that it’s attempted under proper guidance.
Though small, the parkour community is burgeoning, with more people willing to push themselves to explore their physical limits, discovering the practice to be an exhilarating break from the routine stresses of life. However, according to Chi Ying, there is a lot more that can be done.
Spreading awareness and the practice of parkour in the local scene, Chi Ying frequently promotes it in public events such as the recent SHINE Festival organised by the National Youth Council. According to him, "[You can't just look at parkour.] You need to experience it to know what's going on."
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