Onlookers in and around IU these past few weekends may have noticed a curious mix of students and adults climbing on walls, jumping over ledges and practicing backflips.
A weekly parkour training session has had its introductory meetings, open to both parkour veterans and newcomers alike. The first meeting took place at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 14 outside of Smith Hall, and Saturday’s meeting began at 12 p.m. outside of the Monroe County Courthouse.
The 90-minute sessions were instructional courses involving basic parkour techniques, offering long-time parkour enthusiasts the opportunity to teach and show off to newcomers. The instructor, Bloomington resident Vincent Brown, is a mostly self-taught parkour enthusiast who wants to inspire the community to take up his passion. Brown first learned about parkour in 2012.
“I saw some stuff on YouTube, and I wanted to try it out myself,” Brown said. “There were people at my gym who encouraged some action, but for the most part it was me going out and working on stuff.”
Brown described parkour as “getting from point A to point B in the fastest, most efficient way possible.” This distinguishes it from the similar activity freerunning, which he defined as “a version of parkour that includes acrobatics that are purely aesthetic.”
The first session was attended by four other enthusiasts. Techniques were limited to introductory parkour concepts, such as ledge-climbing and vaulting, which involves safely and efficiently climbing onto and leaping over ledges, climbing walls and safe landings.
The second session, which began at the courthouse before moving outside of the First Christian Church, built upon previous techniques taught during the first session. The session involved mostly combining vaults, leaps, landings and rolls into creating impromptu obstacle courses with concrete furniture around downtown Bloomington, such as benches, railings and staircases.
Brown’s sessions are the first attempt to kickstart a parkour community in Bloomington since the IU Parkour Club disbanded two years ago.
“There’s absolutely no parkour presence in Bloomington, and I’m surprised because most colleges around America have a very strong parkour following,” Brown said. “I came back to Bloomington from Taiwan where I was living, and I wanted to see a parkour community started here again.”
Brown’s parkour training session will meet every weekend at varying times, depending on Brown’s schedule. Information regarding future times and locations can be found on the “Parkour Training/Learning Sesh” Facebook page.
CORRECTION: The photo attached to this story originally misidentified the instructor as James Brown. His name is Vincent Brown. The IDS regrets this error.