The 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.