Saturday, April 16, 2011

Final Reflections on Parkour in Chile

The long bus ride home gave me a chance to reflect on the action-packed weekend and on my previous 3 weeks in Chile. Thinking back on it, the jam served as the perfect ending for my time in Chile. The “vibes” that I felt going through the traceurs throughout the weekend were very similar ones to what I had been feeling my entire time in Chile. While Chile doesn’t have a large parkour presence on the internet compared to some of it’s other South American neighbors, the atmosphere surrounding the parkour scene that I had seen is perhaps one of the most unique and inviting that I’ve experienced. Danny Ilabaca (widely seen as the best traceur in the world at the moment) said something similar after his visit to Chile a few months before I went there, but there is definitely something special about Chile. While I hesitate to refer to it as “innocent” or “pure” it definitely seems to have been “untainted” by a lot of the commercialism that seems to have affected the sport in other countries.

While the Parkour School in Viña del Mar and Santiago is a testament to this (totally free, open to anyone, training in urban or natural environments) this is far from the only example. The work being done by other teams like Nelquihue in La Concepcion also shows this spirit of openness and resourcefulness (the 2-day jam cost 1000 pesos, about $2). While part of this may be due to the fact that there seems to be a huge resistance to “paying for parkour” in South America, I think that it is also due to something about the “Chilean personality” and the fact that this part of the world has been largely “undiscovered” by the rest of the parkour world. After all, it was only after much perseverance and resourcefulness by Carlos and other traceurs in Chile that Ilabaca came over in the first place, and my stop was because I wanted to take advantage of a free stop on my around-the-world ticket.

Although the timing of my visit was pure chance, I managed to be in the country at what now looks like a turning point in Chilean parkour. A few weeks after my visit, Parkour School opened up its third branch (Viña del Mar, Santiago, and now La Concepcion). The connections that were made at the jam between the different cities and organizations have been very important, and as usual, Carlos’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious. From the pictures and updates that I’ve been getting from friends in La Concepcion, things seem to be going very well and the “school” has been very well received by the city’s youth.

One of the goals of my project is to go around the world and see how different parkour organizations work and to try to take the parts that work well back with me to the States in the eventual goal of opening up a parkour academy in Boston. While there are a lot of things that I’d like to take back with me from Chile, unfortunately a lot of them are cultural, and would be pretty hard to bring back to the States. That being said, things like Carlos’s EVAUTILE program are possible to bring with me. Yes, there are a few modifications that would need to be made for cultural differences, but on the most part, it’s a model that can be followed in most countries around the world.

A big shout-out and thank you to Carlos for all his help throughout my visit.  Muevete!

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