Dallas Morning News, April 25, 2008

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Here is a recent article on the dallas section of Texas Parkour done by the Dallas Morning news!

The Original Article can be found Here

 

Freerunners Jump, Twist and Spin through Dallas Architecture

by Jon Nielson

 

Jonathan Tapp sprints toward the 10-foot stone wall as if he’ll run right through it.

At the last possible moment, he hits the brick with his foot and springs to the top. Grabbing the ledge with his hands, he pulls himself up and over to the other side.

Gone in a blink.

 

Mr. Tapp is summoning his inner Spider-Man, spinning, climbing, leaping and bouncing off urban architecture like it’s his personal playground. It’s called freerunning, an art form that combines the athleticism of gymnastics, the mental discipline of martial arts and the daredevilry of a stuntman.

Think Matt Damon inThe Bourne Ultimatum, or the opening scene ofCasino Royale.

Freerunning evolved from a less-flashy European form called parkour.

Whereas parkour is meant for the actor, or traceur, to move from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible using physical skill and cunning, freerunning involves the same fluid efforts but with flips, twists and spins.

This is a sport without bounds. It attracts those who want the freedom to roam.

“I played basketball and all those other sports. There’s nothing difficult about a ball and a hoop,” said D’Ondrai Jones, a 16-year-old from Duncanville. “In freerunning, you’re constantly pushed to your limits. That’s what makes it fun.”

After just a few minutes out on the streets of downtown Dallas, Mr. Tapp and a dozen of his freerunning friends attract curious onlookers. Passers-by slow their cars to catch a glimpse.

Darren Lucas crosses the street to check them out.

“When I was growing up, we called that goofing off. I guess they have a name for it now,” Mr. Lucas says.

He watches Mr. Tapp stand on a handrail, then leap onto another about five feet away.

Mr. Lucas stands amazed, his mouth agape.

“Dang,” says Mr. Lucas, eyeing the distance. “My son is in the car sleeping. I’m glad he’s not seeing this.”

Mr. Lucas thinks freerunning is dangerous. And to the untrained, it can be.

Many novices spend months training in gymnasiums and studying videos.

“You do small jumps; you build up your muscles,” said Mr. Tapp, 19, of Addison. “Once you build up and get confident, then you move on to bigger things.”

Traceurs say it’s no different than climbing trees or doing back flips off the front porch railing as a kid.

“A lot of people who fall in love with it have been doing it since they were kids,” said Myke Gardetto, a 19-year-old from Fort Worth.

When people stop to watch, their first question is usually, “What are they doing?” The next question is, “Do they get in trouble?”

Something about jumping on downtown buildings doesn’t seem legal.

At the back of the Bank of America building, a waist-high gate is locked, blocking a stairway that leads down.

Ruger Carstens chuckles. He’s been scaling 10-foot walls all day. The gate isn’t much of a deterrent. Hurdling it could open up a new playground.

But unlike skateboarders who sometimes flock to their culture for rebellion, these freerunners move on.

“Skateboarders would just go in there. We have to keep ourselves respectable,” said Mr. Carstens, an 18-year-old from Greenville.

“We don’t try to damage any of the things we’re working on,” Mr. Tapp added. “We want to flow with our environment, not crash against it.”

But not everyone knows that.

At the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas, the traceurs praise the church’s masonry exterior and yards of handrails.

Then a security guard rounds the corner. There’s a wedding inside, he tells the bunch. It’s not the time to be bouncing off the church walls.

“Next time we have to come back when there’s not a wedding,” D’Ondrai said.

The traceurs apologize and walk away to find their next challenge in this downtown playground.