More Than Just Guys Wearing Big Sweats

I am an interpreter, and I am a traceur too. Usually, those two elements would not come together, except for the fact that I managed to mélange my job with the discipline that I love. I have been lucky enough to be a liaison between prominent members of the worldwide #parkour community and the people of #Mexico, and that is the story I will tell you about today.

Initially, I was hesitant to attend our national jams because, although I train rather frequently, I feel like moving has never been my strong point. I would rather be defined as that scrawny kid that sat around, accompanied by the book all day, every day. It felt as if a national jam, a celebration of movement in itself, was not the place for me to be. What would I do there? I remember having a chat with Danee Marmolejo about this, and he told me, “Well, perhaps you can’t move as well as you would like to, yes, but what makes you think that you do not have a place there?” As you can probably assume, this got me thinking, and a couple of days later, I had a chat with Daer Sánchez, the main representative of the Urban Runners team in Mexico City and one of the organizers of the jam. I had heard that some very talented foreign traceurs would be attending the gathering, and it struck me. I did have a place that fits perfectly in the needs of the #community.

The day of the event came around, and what I thought was going to be an irrelevant job turned out to be of paramount importance in the success of those hectic two days. Every minute, I fed the words of Daniel Ilabaca, Josh Yadon, Joey Adrian, Niko Pal, Natalia Ivanova, Andrew Obenreder, and Yoann Leroux to the eager lot of young and old freerunners that attended the jam. These people had come from all around the country (Mexico is a rather big place) to see these athletes. English literacy is not a big thing in many parts of Mexico, especially in less wealthy areas, like where most of the attendees came from; nevertheless, these people had come to catch a glimpse of their idols and, if they were lucky, to tell them “thank you, you inspired me with your videos.” Dumbfounded and humbled, I devoted all my energies to translating every word and every nuance that came out of our guests’ mouth as accurately as I could. I interpreted motivational speeches, personal conversations, many words of thank you, a dispute or two, and even a jam-wide prayer circle for Marco Massutier, a member of the Urban Runners team.

Why am I telling you a story that sounds more like I am trying to show off my work to the world? It is but simple: I realized that we all have an essential role to play, as all of us are pillars of the parkour community. We are all part of a big team. Even those who at first glance might come off as weak, untalented—or even unmotivated—make up the foundations of our circles. Allow me to explain why I think it is essential to talk about this, and why I stress it as much as I do.

I saw first hand the great benefits that came from doing something that I like, but this also allowed me to see little details in the fabric of our community that I had never seen before. You know that moment in which you see how a stone column has minute pores, and you realized they were there just because you were too close to its surface? Well, those pores started acquiring faces for me, the faces of people from all walks of life that contribute to our scene. The best part of this is that the vast majority of them do not even invest a significant amount of time into training. They are just people that happened to be really proficient and passionate in whatever it is that they do, whether it be some God-given talent for fashioning good (and BIG!) sweatpants, or just being a dab hand at stitching precisions landed with the shins.

This situation is important because the majority of the community has little to contribute in regards to new and perhaps better ways of movement since the parkour scene originated as a grassroots movement native to the Internet, seen only in a fistful of YouTube channels. The sport grew at blinding speed over the last years and, let’s face it, most new video submissions show various repeated—albeit excellent—movements. Only a few traceurs come up with new and original moves, so that small contribution role is already taken. What about the mass production of parkour media? That is also already taken care of by, again, big channels like Storror, Storm, GUP, and Jestion. Videos and merchandise are getting better by the day, and online movies and tours such as From Here To There are already getting the job done. Letting people know about parkour to make our community bigger? Training centers like Apex Movement and Tempest Academy are attracting youngsters and deceivingly less capable adults in droves. People everywhere know more and more about parkour each day through publications like this and Farang Mag. The parkour scene is already a world in its own, and it thrives today more so than it had ever done. What is the importance then of all those seemingly run-of-the-mill practitioners that have not yet, and probably never will, stand in the limelight?

Why bother mentioning all other individuals that are not part of this elite? Because they are the building blocks of our community! If there were no one to buy merchandise, Take Flight would crumble. If there were no one to press play on videos, there would not be an audience for Pasha to awe. If there were no one to attend parkour showings, Jesse LaFlair would be broke. If there were no one to enjoy the beauty of movement, Daniel Ilabaca would no longer have a purpose in our community.

This article is for those who buy the big sweats and follow Phosky on Instagram. That might even be you, the newcomer that cannot stick a precision; or for you, the slightly older practitioner that, like me, still has not learned to kong pre properly after five years of training. Let it be known far and wide that YOU are the most important piece of the puzzle. You, amongst all others that think that you have not gone far enough, are what keep us standing. You are the real Most Valuable Player.

I can only speak for myself. The only thing that I can guarantee is that I used to be scared of everything. Heck, I still am; nevertheless, I have learned to overcome my fear. I have learned to be in contact with myself. I have learned to go one step further. That is exactly why I am proud to be a part of you. It is through you that people like me can grow and thrive, and more importantly, enjoy ourselves. That is why I am proud to be a part of this community, because not only have we managed to go really far in the path of personal growth and self-improvement, but because we have also managed to create a culture of our own. We have everything that defines a new race, a new mindset. We have everything that dictates freedom of the mind, of the body, and the soul. All of us should be proud. We have achieved everything that we ever wanted personally. So, you know what? Continue to be that kid that cannot stick a precision. Continue to land hard and, perhaps, on your heels. Continue to be afraid of reaching the top of that high wall. But every day, continue striving to become better since only by bettering yourself you will be able to make the world around you a more enjoyable place to live in.

Photos © Andrew Obenreder

Follow Seb De Los Cobos on Instagram.

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