Take Flight®

Stay Humble. David Belle Doesn’t Owe You Anything. (Part 1 of 3)

by on Aug.15, 2012, under Adam Dunlap, Articles, David Belle

David Belle - Founder of ParkourThe last blog I wrote for Take Flight was Should Parkour be in the Olympics? Absolutely. Part 1 of this post received a comment that I felt deserved a response because I don’t think the sentiment behind it is unique in the Parkour community. And it’s a negative sentiment. This blog is my effort to help put to rest many of the disrespectful and self-entitled thinking that still seems to frequently permeate the Parkour community worldwide.

The comment that was posted was this:

Yes, David Belle is important for obvious reasons but he said that his word shouldn’t be treated as gospel. That desire and his actions of, essentially, deserting us makes his opinion far less critical and relevant…

I’m going to respond to this comment in a very simple way, and in that hopefully dispel many of the most common misconception about David Belle, his discipline, and his legacy:

David Belle is the founder of Parkour, and he doesn’t owe you anything. It’s that simple.

I think  a couple issues come into play when we start looking at comments like the one left on my last blog and the sentiments behind them:

#1. Comments like, “Yes, David Belle is important for obvious reasons but he said that his word shouldn’t be treated as gospel,” show that the writer doesn’t understand Parkour, and they feel that the discipline of Parkour can be molded by any person that is now ‘part of the Parkour community’ (a reference not made here but something I see a lot of nowadays). David is the founder of Parkour so when it comes to defining what Parkour is, his word IS gospel. It’s not the community’s right to define – which is made up of individuals that have since joined around to partake in practicing the discipline -, and it’s certainly not any individual Traceur’s right to define it. Each of us is just another Traceur following in David’s footsteps, and that includes me.

So train hard, stay humble., and don’t think you have any right or influence to say what Parkour is and what it isn’t. That’s David’s right and David’s alone.

#2. When people say things like, “…and his actions of, essentially, deserting us makes his opinion far less critical and relevant,” this shows a lack of humility; a lack of understanding of who David is and why he has been quiet in past years; it shows an attempt to undermine David’s history and current influence over Parkour; and it shows a feeling of entitlement (and possibly resentment) as if David owes you something or should have done things differently. David founded Parkour and with that, what most people fail to acknowledge is he also chose how to present and give Parkour to the world. And this is something he is still doing! His method for sharing Parkour is his, just like his movement and training is his. And if you don’t like it, practicing the discipline doesn’t make you entitled to anything nor does it give you the right to influence or try to control how David shares Parkour.

So train hard, stay humble, and remember that it’s much harder to make a key than it is to copy it. You have an influence over how you train and the meaning you take from Parkour, but don’t confuse that with influencing the higher ideas of what Parkour is.

(to be continued…)


Adam Dunlap is the founder of Take Flight. In addition to his ongoing role at the company, Dunlap is currently working as David Belle‘s brand manager. Dunlap is also working with Belle in films and on other projects in order to advance Parkour in the US and around the globe. Previous projects of Adam’s include starting the Revolution Parkour gym in Portland, Oregon, and running various Parkour blogs. Dunlap is an avid Traceur and can often be found training both outside and at Parkour classes in whatever city he finds himself. Dunlap currently takes no salary from his work with Take Flight.

24 Comments for this entry

  • deontae word

    i absolutely think hes right in this article. when i started practicing the art i was heavily infuenced on david belles philosophy. because that was all i knew and what i was trained up on. david bell is and lways will be the best traceurs there is.

  • David Ivey

    There are many things to address in your post but I’ll stick with the main points.
    Parkour was originally defined as non-competitive.
    The Parkour community isn’t trying to redefine Parkour, nor are we trying to mold the definition of Parkour because we want it to stay the same.
    You say that “ it’s certainly not any individual Traceur’s right [to define Parkour]” but you claim that David Belle, an individual Traceur, has the right to define Parkour. This is contradictory.
    Onto the not-treating-his word-as-gospel thing. Pkdanno interviewed David Belle and he, Danno, later wrote “This is one of the biggest problems in Parkour he said, that people aren’t free anymore when infact Parkour [is] to liberate; they are not free to chose what is right and wrong to them, they are told. He infact doesnt even want people to treat his words like gospel”
    We don’t want to be told what is Parkour because we know what it is. It’s non-competitive.

    Based on David’s post I can’t help but wonder if you’re twisting his words to serve your agenda. He clearly says “I don’t believe that my philosophy is meant for everyone. It’s more important to follow your own path than to follow someone else.”
    Stop trying to trample on our right to follow our own non-competitive path.

  • Jason Paul

    David invented Parkour and actively spread it with the first few TV reports which people still quote today, after these shows he wasn’t doing ANYTHING to spread Parkour.

    “He chose how to represent and give Parkour to the world”, if you mean by doing as good as nothing, except if there’s money involved (Events, movies, …) you are probably right. Even now that he starts speaking up it took a brand-manager to be involved. What’s up with that?

    “Each of us is just another Traceur following in David’s footsteps”
    How am I following David’s footsteps if he didn’t leave any traces over the last 7 years? Not even fucking Winnetou could track that shit.
    Of course, people start doing their own thing.

    People tried to follow him for a long-time, but David never spoke up or did anything, so now that he does it’s simply too late.
    Nobody cares that much about what he says anymore, he became irrelevant to the Parkour community and everybody is doing their own thing.

    It’s like abandoning your child after birth and then coming back when it’s a teenager. Of course you’re the dad, but you lost the right to be a part in the kid’s life.
    If the kid wants you in his life all good, if not it’s your own fault.

    I wonder if selling the kid shirts with your name on it is the right way to win his heart over, or it might be better to give before asking for something.

  • Take Flight

    David, thank you for your comment.

    We think you may have not understood Dunlap’s stance. It may become more clear in parts 2 and 3. We can clear up a couple things until those two are launched (supposedly part 2 drops today and part 3 tomorrow).

    -Dunlap does feel that many are trying to change the definition of Parkour to meet their needs.
    -Dunlap was saying that Belle is the exception in that he does have the right to say what Parkour is. No one else does. That was his point.
    -Regarding competition, that would be under the Olympic posts #1 and #2 linked here


    Question: Danno apparently spent an afternoon or maybe a couple days with Belle. Dunlap on the other hand has been working very closely with Belle for more than a year and he apparently see Belle almost every day. So why is someone who saw Belle on one occasion years ago carrying more weight than Dunlap? Belle and Dunlap are very close friends. Danno and Belle apparently met once or twice…? There really is no comparison.

    More important, this last point again seems to stem from a lack of understanding of Dunlap’s point about what liberties Traceurs have to make Parkour their own, and what liberties they have to say what Parkour is. Dunlap has explained this to us very clearly, and we think he’s going to include it in the 2nd and 3rd parts. Stay tuned for those.

  • Take Flight

    Thank you for your explanation. Dunlap is writing this post to help end the negativity that you show very clearly. If you don’t agree with him then there is no reason to get emotional. Just move on or take it up with him.

    Also, please refrain from homosexual slurs and expletive language. We respect all views, but often delete things when people are respectful to others.

    Lastly, we recommend reading part 2 and 3 when they come out, as that might spread more light on the issue.

  • Karl Fow

    Greetings from Caracas, Venezuela.

    It’s really important to this paper and important what jason says paul, you have much reason friend.

    Currently all the parkour community has sought its own path, not just by david bell, but also with the help of Daniel Ilabaca for this. why?

    He took the same steps as David, began, I help people as he found what he wanted and then pulled away, the truth I do not understand why everyone does this … When parkour itself teaches you that this is to share and develop it for good, do what you always focus on it.

    Then you have to leave us for more complications and philosophy that we seek to summarize this is always the same. ” Be happy with what we do, and help your promoan”

    Carlo ”Karl FOW” Peraza

    Spanish Traduction.

    Saludos desde Caracas, Venezuela.

    Es realmente importante esta nota e importante lo que dice jason paul, tienes mucha razon amigo.

    Actualmente toda la comunidad de parkour ha buscado su propio camino, y no solo por david bell, Si no tambien gracias a la ayuda de Daniel Ilabaca para esto. porque?

    El tomo los mismos pasos que david, se inicio, ayudo a la gente mientras encontraba lo que buscaba y luego se aparto, la verdad que no entiendo porque todos hacen esto… Cuando el parkour te enseña por si mismo que esto hay que compartirlo y desarrollarlo para bien, hagas lo que hagas siempre se centrara en ello.

    Entonces hay que dejarnos de complicaciones y que por mas filosofia que busquemos esto se resumira a lo mismo siempre. ”Ser feliz con lo que hacemos, y ayudar a tu progimo”

    Carlo ”Karl FOW” Peraza

  • Tim Burton

    To the whole of Point #1: How on Earth can you make the claim “his word IS gospel” when Belle himself stated it should never be treated as such? Belle has said several times in interviews and articles that parkour is not about emulating and copying other people’s movement, its about finding your own way. The trend he was so against wasn’t movement-based, it was people risking themselves for media and for money. Even more so he didn’t want others staking claim in his name or stamping his picture over websites to make money. He, at least at one point in time, was very against the idea of a site like Take Flight. Not making any claims here, but this dramatic change in stance leads one to wonder how much Belle is aware of Take Flight’s business ethic.

    Also, any reason you asked for an explanation but didn’t actually respond to any of Jason’s points?

  • Danno

    Adam, stop posting as someone else in the 3rd person it’s super annoying man! We all know its you that makes all posts, it’s you that control all the content on all these sites, and it’s you that post up a whole wack of bullsheeet.

    As a French speaker I can tell you half the crap on twitter and FB isn’t from a French guy at all.. I don’t believe it for a second that it’s David talking to people at all. Anyone who believes Adam with anything is having the blanket pulled over their eyes BIGTIME.

    I used to have David Belle on my msn and we would talk together, I had his cellphone too and we exchanged txts. I can’t believe after him having the opinion I wrote about for over 3 years of me keeping in touch with him it all of a sudden changed because he wants to sell tshirts. NO WAY!!!

    I was directly involved with the Federation that Guy and David’s Brother were trying to organize as well, these were not their views either. I was directly involved with Pawa and all that crap as well and they didn’t act like this either and they were bad bad bad.

    You say in 1 post you have worked with David since 2008, in another 1 year, just “announced” it recently after you took a short trip there… Really man no one believes you. If you were working with David you would do something with David, you would have content with David, you would have videos, material, you would be trying to aid the scene.

    ou are doing nothing because you have nothing.

    Borrrrring. Zzzzz. But you know these posts give me SUCH a good laugh!

    Greetings from Toronto where we have a really open mind about Parkour.

  • Ash Morrison

    I have to agree with Jason on this matter, David hasn’t been around publically to guide how Parkour has ‘evolved’ in the 21st century and the whole subject hasn’t been helped by all these so called teams who make income from the art, both Parkour and Freerunning. (Such as Urban Free Flow) who caused all the confusing behind the definition of Parkour in the first place. The internet is littered, mainly on youtube, with arguments of what people think Parkour is, and the majority are confusing it with Freerunning. However I believe Parkour is what David said it was and I preach that to everyone who says otherwise, but I think it would be beneficial for David to get involved in the community again, perhaps some public appearences or video interviews etc, around his busy time schedule of course.

  • Parkouranon

    Where is Danno’s comment? Surely you won’t limit free speech.

  • Jeff

    A well written and wonderful piece of fiction, looking forward to reading the rest of it.

    Also, best and most accurate typo ever,
    “We respect all views, but often delete things when people are respectful to others.”

  • Take Flight

    Only when people post profanities, slurs, and things of this nature. Otherwise we never delete stuff.

  • Take Flight

    Ah good call! “When people AREN’T respectful to others.” Respect is the environment we wish to promote. We often delete things when people don’t respect others as in post profanities and slurs and things of this nature. Thank you for catching that!

  • Take Flight

    Well said. We agree 100% with your view not including the totality of Jason’s post.

  • Take Flight

    Thank you for your comments.

    So why aren’t you working with Belle anymore?

  • Adam Dunlap

    Hi Danno, Adam here. Your appetite for denial and conflict is insatiable. If you want proof just ask humbly and you will receive : ) There are some exceptions to what I can and am willing to provide, and to be quite honest I’m not interested in pressuring David to make a video or take photos to prove that I am his brand manager and I see him almost every single day, and we train together, and work, and talk etc etc etc. Neither of us have anything we feel we need to prove to anyone. And in any case, I don’t get the impression that anything will appease you personally. I’ve dealt with people like you before and nothing ever does appease people with your attitude. In fact trying just seems to have this odd way of making things worse! If you won’t accept the truth and evidence that has been presented in the last year then why would anything change your mind now? Plus the stakes build with every comment as more pride and credibility is put at stake. But if you aren’t concerned about that and if you have an open mind then let me know what you want, and I’ll see what I can do.

    The reason I’m even responding here, and the reason I’m willing to try with you is because of your place in the Parkour world. Plus I remember reading your post a few years ago when I was more of less first getting starting in Parkour and finding my way. Your experience was inspiring and I took a lot from it. Annnnd, I admit I was a bit jealous at the time that you got to meet David and speak with him. But now you’re turning a special time with him into something negative by using a small event and some old, distant contacts to try to bring yourself up by discrediting others. Look at David’s most recent post on Facebook. That came out of our discussion 2 hours ago regarding this continued negativity public attempt to discredit and defame me every time I open my mouth to defend David and the true history of Parkour. David’s post is pointed at you and the others that post and spread similar doubting and judgmental mindsets. And you’re not the caravan.

    “Les chiens aboient, la caravane passe.”

    I just want peace and respect. That’s all I ever call for in my posts. Why they cause so much controversy and why it causes any controversy from those that respect David and credit him as the founder is something I really, truly don’t understand. I’m open to advice as always. And for those that just want to bark that’s fine too because we’re moving ahead.

  • Adam Dunlap

    I’m in the commenting mood lol! It’s easy to pick and choose parts of interviews and try to peace together an image of David. It’s much different to understand his view fully.

    In defining what Parkour is David’s word is gospel. This is referenced continually when he defines Parkour. In what you take from it and how you do things there is lots of freedom to follow your own path. That is the difference between where David has say, and where he has given Parkour to the world to make what they want from it.

    David is not against the business concept of Take Flight or companies like Take Flight. David wants clothing and shoes for Parkour as well as gyms and parks and many other things. He understands that it’s businesses that create that, and he understands that some people will make their living on that. That is fine with him as long as they give respect, and follow the rules, spread the right message etc etc. Otherwise they shouldn’t use the word Parkour.

    I saw Jason’s message and actually sent him a private message. Not everyone is qualified to answer all the questions created from a post I make, but they do their best.

  • Danno

    You have lied and tried to deceive too many people over the internet Adam, and this is why I post the way I do. You didn’t see me posting about you or against you before, I really didn’t care about your tshirt business; if that was what you wanted to do, all the power to you! Me and you do very different things in the Parkour world and I do a pretty good job ignoring all the BS.

    That being said, I really don’t have time for this internet nonsense, but when you start claiming you are the law, you are the community, and you are the one making the rules… Then I feel its time for me to speak-up for the thing I love and do every day. Too many people waited around for David Belle for years, and nothing came of it. Too many of us tried to talk him and his brother into being part of the community and nothing came of it. We tried, it’s in the past, and because of it the sport has moved on. It’s not a matter of respect, it’s a matter of personal dignity.

    You have a lot of nerve to bring David’s name back into the scene and the hopes up of a lot of people out there that think he’s going to come back and make a difference. You and I both know where he is personally. He’s not coming back to help the community. Shameful of you.

    I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life helping Parkour grow in one way or another, and besides the thank-yous I’ve given David in person many times, he doesn’t deserve much else, he knows it too and doesn’t want it. He had the power to do whatever he liked before, but he gave the power to people like me, Jason, even you… on purpose! Was his choice.

    The internet is a place where you can continue to deceive others, and as long as you hide behind it and do nothing but talk, you will be treated as so because your reputation and past actions will always haunt you. When you aren’t humble to others Adam, you can’t expect us to treat you the same way.

    When you want to do something actually good for Parkour, ACTUALLY GOOD, there’s many communities always looking for more involvement. They don’t need tshirts, dumb articles and false hope. They need hands on help!

    Until then, stay away from OUR Parkour and have fun with your Tshirt business! Like I said, all the power to you if that’s what you want to do. Not my thing.


    What if I go reconnect with David and his family now? Are you positive they are going to tell me the same stuff as you write about him? I donnn’t knnnoooww… =P

  • Ying

    Adam, we ALL know it’s YOU posting as Take Flight and compimenting yourself on your own article. It’s really quite pathetic that you can’t get a single person to comment on you positively, so you do it yourself under the Take Flight username. You are a sad, sad little man. Grow up.

  • Jeremy Hansen

    I don’t even know what just happened…first of all I agree with this post David got parkour from his dad and as far as I could tell never thought it would be this art that could save lives and bring so much passion. Non of us would even have this without David so why Is everyone so disrespectful to him and sebastion for that matter. I met Adam in Portland Oregon and he’s a nice guy thinking of him going on twitter and making fake posts sounds really stupid. To be honest I’m always true to parkour and freerunning but sometime I like going out and just moving no matter what I call it I’m not for money or fame when I move I move because one night I was googling how to kill myself saw a man jump from a roof my self thinking he was going to die then he rolls and is fine for some reason that roll spoke to me and the passion in what he did was what I was missing. David belle saved my life and for that I’m thankful. So why are you all turning something so positive into something with so much hate?

  • Adam Dunlap

    Yes, I am absolutely positive. I asked David about you and he said he only met you once. He had nothing else to say.

    Keep barking.

  • Take Flight

    Thank you for all the comments thus far! I thought I would weigh in on this, though keep in mind these are all my personal beliefs and don’t necessarily reflect Take Flight’s philosophy.

    I was a student of Adam’s for a while, and learned practically everything I know about parkour from him, but even then, there are still many points I’m confused on, and I don’t think I’m the only one.

    However, if you say parkour belongs to the community now and David Belle’s input isn’t worth any more than your own…? Well, I’m part of the community too and I say you’re wrong.

    If David Belle tells me what I’m doing is not parkour, I’ll take his word for it. If my teacher, Adam, tells me what I’m doing is not parkour, I’ll take his word for it. I now teach students of my own, and when I tell them that what they’re doing is not parkour, they take my word for it. If David Belle tells my students that what I’m teaching them is not parkour, I sure hope they’ll take his word over mine, no matter how deluded I become. It’s a chain of command, and David Belle is at the top of it. Parkour is of his making, after all.

    If you want to make your own offshoot and give it a new name with its own philosophies, feel free. But parkour is parkour.

    Again, these are just my personal beliefs. Overall, I’m happy to see all the discussion this has spawned, though I wish we could all remain just a little more civil while doing it.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks for this entry

Leave a Reply