Fri, 2012-05-25 12:41
Over the past 8-weeks, I have been teaching a course at UCLA. There are two sessions per week, 1.5hr each. The course is the first of its kind in America (as far as I am aware). It mainly takes place in doors at UCLA’s large gymnastic gym; however, we have had the opportunity to head outside for three of the classes. The students have excelled and shown surprising steps in the 8-week period.
Getting the course started has been a long, but very informative process for me. Hopefully, this will help shed some light to others on how we can spread parkour more efficiently and get it recognized for what it is!
There is growing concerns in America (and probably elsewhere) with parkour due to liability issues. Everyone is worried that a practitioner will get injured and follow-up with a law suit because that is the ‘American’ way. Universities are no different, and it’s often the case that campus security/police will ask traceurs to vacate the area because training is not allowed on campus.
UCLA was no different in this matter as I originally was running a Sunday afternoon class on campus and towards the end of 2011; we had to stop the class. Since, there was a thriving community and a large interest on campus, I approached the recreation department to determine if we could set-up something up officially with the school.
As one would expect, there are a lot of politics involved especially when parkour is mentioned, and the process moving forward took several months. During the initial meetings, the administrators with whom I spoke, mentioned that the university had been considering banning parkour because they didn’t know what to do with it. They were worried about people injuring themselves and were unsure how to develop a safe environment for parkour.
A couple months after the initial meetings, we were running several focus groups to determine the interest on campus and to see how a parkour course could be run in a safe environment. The focus groups were very successful and the students were itching to get something more going.
While, the focus groups did not completely move fears of injuries, we were then allowed to run this 8-week course as a trial.
Now, why do I mention all this?
In my opinion, parkour is still misunderstood all around the world. Whenever, I meet someone for the first time and mentioned that I do/teach parkour, the first words out of their mouth are “You’re crazy!” They immediately ask if I jump off buildings and why I would do such a thing.
One of the most important elements that I believe allowed to get this program kick-started was my A.D.A.P.T. certification. Most involved on the administration side had never heard of a parkour certification. I firmly believed this opened the door for me and kick-started the whole project. I believe it was an eye-opener for all those involved that there was an alternative approached that could be taken to handle parkour as opposed to flat out banning it.
So, what does this mean?
America is certainly lagging behind in appreciation and understanding of parkour. The more practitioners that get involved with spreading the knowledge, the sooner everyone will appreciate parkour as a discipline as opposed to an extreme/reckless sport.
A.D.A.P.T. is certainly one way to bring light to the discipline as it can open people’s eyes!