18-year-old Kelan Ryan from Kemsing has been practising the art of Parkour for over six years, and he wouldn’t change his experiences for anything, as he tells us how this extreme sport has changed his life for the better.
Kelan Ryan started the art of Parkour around six years ago when he was 12. He didn’t go to any classes as they simply didn’t exist at the time, so he trained by watching Youtube videos of other free runners and copying them in his back garden on his trampoline.
Parkour or Freerunning (a version of Parkour that adds acrobatic moves that are purely aesthetic) or L’art du Deplacement (the art of displacement) is the primarily non-competitive physical discipline of training to move freely over and through any terrain using only the abilities of the body, principally through running, jumping, climbing and quadrupedal movement. In practice it focuses on developing the fundamental attributes required for such movement, which include functional strength and fitness, balance, spatial awareness, agility, coordination, precision, control and creative vision.
Parkour includes a mixture of running, jumping, flipping, climbing, falling and vaulting and you can practice it anywhere as there is no equipment needed, just a good pair of trainers. The sport encourages self-improvements on all levels as it helps you to understand your mental and physical limits while simultaneously offering ways to overcome them. You could say it trains your body and mind in order to move efficiently in any environment.
The sport aims to build confidence, determination, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility for one’s actions. It encourages humility, respect for others and for one’s environment, self-expression, community spirit, and the importance of play, discovery and safety at all times. Kelan says that Parkour has changed his life completely since starting at the age of 12. He said “I have travelled all around the world, meeting so many amazing people who practice the sport as well”.
As with any sport you compare them to other disciplines and this is not dissimilar, as Kelan continues: “I have noticed the Parkour community is completely different to other sports. Whilst football fans argue with their opponents, free runners with all different backgrounds and skill levels train and socialise together. I have never seen any sort of rivalry in my 6 years of training.”
“Nearly every sport has competitions and Parkour is no different. There are various competitions that happen around the globe every year where freerunners gather together to overly just have fun and train with each other. I try to attend as many as I can.”
Kelan recently took part in Project Underground, an indoor competition held in Rotherham, and finsihed a respectable 5th in the adult freestyle.
Making a living
Parkour has also offered Kelan commercial opportunities as companies and brands are attracted to the sport through social media. He recently had a paid job promoting the clothing company Superdry.
He said: “People can also make money from coaching or sponsorships. I am sponsored by the Motus Projects who produce clothing for Parkour athletes. They paid for me to tour America in 2017 and also provide me with a lot of clothes and other opportunities. I am also paid to upload my own videos to an app called Worm which specialises in slow motion videos so I gain income from this as well.”
Coaching the art of Parkour
To become a coach of Parkour you need to complete a recognised course that teaches you not only the correct way of practising this extreme sport, but also added elements such as child safety and first aid.
Kelan has already completed part 1 of this course and intends to complete the second part enabling him to teach Parkour anywhere in the world.
This is, after all, a responsible sport that prides itself on recognition from all five UK sports councils, including Sport England making the UK the first country in the world to officially recognise Parkour as a sport.
This means organisations such as Parkour UK, which led the initial application for its recognition in 2009, can now apply for government grants and National Lottery funding. The sport could also soon be practised in schools after it gained support from both the Youth Sport Trust and the Association for Physical Education, who described it as exciting and motivating.
Statistics show that there are actually less accidents doing this sport than other popular sports and that the danger aspect is a big misconception as a lot of people confuse Parkour with Urbex (climbing high buildings and scaling buildings). The majority of Parkour and free running is low level activity. However, we strongly suggest you find a local group where you can be taught in a safe environment.