From Gangtok to Goa, street culture in India has risen with indomitable fervour from the ground-up – and parkour groups across the country have grown with as big an appetite as any. A physical discipline where practitioners use creative manoeuvres and movements to get across an obstacle-ridden space, parkour is more than just a sport or activity, but an entire culture with life of its own.
In the words of parkour pioneer Châu Belle, it is “a type of freedom or kind of expression – a state of mind rather than a set of actions – that is about overcoming and adapting to mental and emotional obstacles as well as physical barriers.”
While this versatile, fascinating medium has developed with local spins in many Indian communities, the origins and techniques of parkour as a global sub-culture don’t seem to be as widely known to the general public. In fact, it’s only the tip of the iceberg for what is sure to be an extremely exciting, adventurous and rewarding journey with the potential to transcend social, cultural, and economic fault lines.
Storror, a collective of seven athletes from the U.K., known for their world-class parkour skills and compelling visual storytelling, is in India to explore and engage the growing parkour culture here. Their electrifying, progressive content is shaped with as much narrative fluidity as technical skill. Their fresh approach to extreme and daring stunts will leave you captivated and thoroughly entertained. With over 290 million total Youtube views, a full-fledged apparel store and a Netflix movie in the works, they are truly a force to be reckoned with.
They will be giving a talk at the 10th edition of the TEDxGateway Conference in Mumbai this December. A global forum that brings together the world’s most inspired thinkers and changemakers, TED is a true testament to the power of ideas. Homegrown talked with Storror to give you a glimpse of their thrilling journey and some insider insight into the many successes and challenges of parkour.
Storror will also be hosting a public meet-and-greet on November 27, 2018 at Bandra Fort in Mumbai between 3:00pm – 6:00pm. Find details of the event here.
HG: What is the most exciting thing about parkour for you?
Storror: Parkour was introduced to us in 2005, thanks to a TV show called Jump Britain. This was our first experience parkour as a form of sport and there was something different about it. Almost straight away we all independently took it upon ourselves to get outside and emulate what we saw these guys doing. We were hooked, not on the adrenaline but the love of moving and the sense of achievement we got from it.
There is a bond that comes from meeting people who are passionate about the same thing that you are, this is what happened when the seven of us got together to train and have fun. We quickly became the STORROR boys.
Looking back, it seems insane we believed so strongly in something we couldn’t explain. But I think it was because we were all so completely committed that it gave us the freedom we needed to create content that really resonated with people.
HG: What does parkour mean to you? Why is it a special medium of expression?
Storror: It is a physical outlet for unlimited creativity. That’s what makes it special.
HG: How is parkour and street culture changing how we understand society, particularly amongst global youth?
Storror: Something we highlight in our talk is that how embracing movement, in every sense of the word, has changed our lives.
There’s a general trend now in modern life that people move less, especially young people. A child’s passion for unrestricted movement over time is forced into regimented sports with timers and strategies and competition. This more often than not is what turns people off. We want to help combat this through our work as Parkour athletes and advocates.
Parkour is free. It is a sport that doesn’t cost any money to take part in. It promotes freedom of movement and expression. All over the world there are kids that do parkour, from first world to third world. We experienced this during our trip to Israel and Palestine, where the divide was evident but kids crossed a border and were united by Parkour. We are all the same really – moving together as people and having a good time no matter what your cultural background or political beliefs may be.
HG: What are some of the biggest challenges and misconceptions you face about your work? How do you overcome them?
Storror: Most common challenge is dealing with hundreds of thousands of kids watching our content and feeling like they can mimic what we do in the right way. Portraying the process behind our performance and training in the most realistic light possible is how we tackle this on a regular basis.
The controversy behind our ‘death-defying’ content surrounds the same issue. It comes down to breaking down why what we do is not as crazy or dangerous as inexperienced individuals may think.
HG: You have some very exciting projects in the works – what impact do you hope they will have on wider audiences? Where do you see the future of parkour going?
Storror: Our style has never pushed toward the format that a lot of athletes now believe is the only road to success – competition. We like to think that the creative concepts planned for the future fuel the idea that Parkour is ‘yours’ and not just about ticking all the boxes on a certain judge’s scorecard.
We have managed to build a sustainable career for ourselves doing what we love, 2019 is all about what can we do for the world? Our aim is to inspire 1 million people to start moving. Whether that is from our videos, learning parkour in our future training facilities or even from our clothing. It would be a great thing if more people in this world moved, this is the foundation of our TEDxGateway talk.
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