Clubbin’: Parkour Edition

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Carolyn Ruvkun horsed around with the Equestrians and wielded swords with the Kendokas, but no club has quite kicked her ass like Parkour.

Ninjas walk among us. For the members of the Columbia University Parkour Club, New York City is a jungle gym with endless opportunities for death-defying jumps, leaps and tumbles. Parkour combines philosophy with physicality; traceurs, those who practice the extreme sport, aim to travel from one point to another as efficiently as possible. After all, why take the elevator when you can scale a wall?

A derivative of parcours, French for ‘course,’ the term originally referred to the obstacle course style of military training created by naval officer Georges Hebert. But, David Belle, another Frenchman, is credited with founding the urban sport. Thrill seekers all around the world soon embraced the extreme display of efficiency. Parkour YouTube videos amassed millions of views; even The Office parodied the international obsession.

For Columbia’s traceurs, Parkour is no passing trend. One club member, Hussein, displayed Tarzan-like abilities even before arriving on campus. “I’ve been lost in the Tanzanian jungle three times,” he revealed in an opening getting-to-know- you circle game. Parkour club co-head Chris Jordan, CC ’13, grew up climbing around New York’s concrete jungle. He enjoys leaping between the connected roofs of Brooklyn brownstones. Chris has even climbed a multiple story building along the outside. Applying physics to his daring stunts, Chris takes calculated risks. Amazingly, he’s never broken a bone— only once taken a bad tumble. “I was running off the side of one structure then jumping and trying to land on a bridge, but I missed and fell on my back.” No, Chris didn’t watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid. “I grew up surrounded by circus people,” he explains. Gypsies babysat young Chris. “They bent spoons with their minds.”

Chris co-heads the team with his former RA, Phillip Dupree, SEAS ’11. They both train with professional Parkour practitioners and teach Columbia’s traceurs. Unsurprisingly, the Parkour club attracts a motley crew of daredevils.

Practice started with intensive conditioning: walking planks along Low steps, sashays around Alma Mater and “explosive” Parkour crunches.Warmed up, we jumped walls. A basic wall jump involves running to the wall, kicking up off it, and grabbing for the top ledge to push yourself over. It’s counter-intuitive to run at a 10 foot concrete wall, but a well-executed wall jump is fluid and elegant. Eventually, Public Safety asked us to move. (This just added to the Ninja factor). We headed to Uris, where tourists marveled at our monkey-like maneuvers.

But what goes up must come down. Properly dismounting from a wall is as fundamental a skill as getting to the top. The proper Parkour roll absorbs the impact of the fall, while protecting the neck and head. Plus, practicing this crucial landing is a fun excuse to roll around in the grass.

So what’s the ultimate Parkour goal? Getting on the roof of Low.

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  1. Anonymous  

    umm ... that video was seriously lame. soo many better videos on youtube.

  2. when  

    does this club meet? I want to join!

  3. Anonymous  

    JORDAN DOES PARKOUR?!?! My mind has just been BLOWN.

    Seriously, Chris. You rock!

  4. lil azn girl  

    I MISS YOU GUYS. See you Wednesday, Phil.

  5. Surfin' UWS  

    I just used a chain of pencils to bring my plate of dumplings closer to me because I didn't want move.

    Goddamn I feel like a fatty reading this.

  6. Harmony Hunter  

    You think these guys can teach me to leap from my Harmony window to street level?

  7. seas kid

    shit, i've been climbing all over columbia since 2006. no parkour club back then, it was just me.

  8. Anonymous

    How is scaling a wall more efficient than an elevator? These morons are going to make everyone's student health fees/insurance rates go up with their addiction to risky behavior, it's just a matter of time before the concrete wins.

  9. the blue magii  

    hah ive already been to the roof of low and i didnt have to climb the facade to get there... go to the north side of the second floor and keep on walking up the spiral staircase. eventually you'll reach the roof, where you can then climb up to the top of the dome.

  10. Chris Jordan  

    is a BAMF.

  11. real cool

    do brazilian jiujitsu next!

  12. I have

    a feeling these guys are going to get seriously hurt one of these days. There's a history of stunt-related injury/death on campus, if my recollection is correct. Hopefully they won't join the list.

  13. finally!  

    finally! an article on parkour. i have been waiting since monday.

  14. Brandon Yanofsky

    That's way cool. I want to see more videos of these guys. I've been wanting to try this for a while and wish we had a club like this at my school.

  15. dying to do it, but might die trying  

    so what if you haven't spent 3 years in a Tanzanian jungle or ANYTHING like that. aha. can you still join?

  16. hey finally

    this article was worth the wait.

  17. Anonymous  

    am I the ONLY one who thinks this is a really cheesy/lame/nerdy club?

  18. Anonymous

    Uhh does anyone know if Phillip Dupree is single? I might possibly have a huge crush on him..

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