Friday, December 2, 2011

Watson: Year 2 – the return to London and Rendezvous 2011

So after a few weeks at home I returned to London for two months.  While this was done under the general premise of continuing my research into parkour, I also wanted to attend some key events, get a lot more instructing experience with Parkour Generations, and to learn more about how a “parkour company” is run and organized.  I returned to London on the day before Rendezvous and arrived in the city just in time to catch the tail end of the instructor’s meeting at Elephant and Castle.

Photo courtesy of Jun Sato.

Group conditioning with the other instructors.  Photo courtesy of Jun Sato.

Taking over a local restaurant for dinner (and lots of press-ups).
While it was great to see a lot of familiar faces from my travels, it was also slightly disconcerting to see many of them standing side by side and interacting with each other.  This feeling was compounded the next day with the official start of Rendezvous VI, which featured a very diverse group of participants, among them people that I had last seen in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, or Italy.  While it took me a little while to get used to, I left the event with the distinct feeling of being part of the “community fabric” of the sport, which was a pretty cool feeling, especially when looking back to Rendezvous a year ago when I knew almost as many of the French guys as I did anyone else at the event.  It was also really good to see how far my “generation” (no pun intended) has progressed over the past year.  While I’m sure that the steady improvement is pretty standard in the sport, I do get the feeling that the group of people that I started training with in London has made a particularly concerted effort to get better and “make something” of their parkour.

In my initial plan to come back to London for Rendezvous, one of the reasons for this had been that the event was also supposed to coincide with the opening of the L.E.A.P. parkour park and training facility at the Westminster Sports Academy.  However, due to a combination of problems with the builders and municipal bureaucracy, this was not to be.

Checking out the park.  Photo courtesy of Ludo. 

So nice, yet so unfinished...  Photo courtesy of Ludo.

To be re-visited.  Photo courtesy of Ludo.
Despite the absence of the “headliner”, the event was still a big success and included nearly 200 traceurs from around the world. During the two-day event participants were given the opportunity to partake in a number of different workshops that were led by a variety of specialists from around the world.  Some were parkour training specific such as strength training and body-weight training with Chris Keighley and Blane, while others dealt with issues such as proper stretching routines, nutrition, and even some presentations by Julie Angel and Andy “Kiel” Day, the renowned film-making and photography duo that are probably some of the most knowledgeable people about the history and development of parkour today.

A stretching session led by Awsa.  Photo by Philippe Gaya.
The rest of Rendezvous was filled with two long days of the hard training that has come to be synonymous with the event, which was only exasperated by the presence of Williams Belle.  While it was later confirmed that he did everything at the event with two broken shins bones, he still managed to move around with a grace and fluidity that was inspiring to witness and which left pretty much everyone, including a lot of the more experienced guys, struggling awkwardly to master the new movements.  This was the first time that I managed to successfully cross paths with Williams in my travels and I was glad to finally be able to meet and train with him.

For me, this year was an interesting contrast with my participation in last year's event, mostly because I was wearing a white "Instructor" shirt this year.  While the absence of Chau and Laurent, who seem to have an innate ability to make people do quantities of exercises that they would not normally perform voluntarily, was definitely felt, the mantles of "hard-ass" were quickly taken up by some of the Parkour Generations instructors who seem to have perfected the art of self-inflicted physical misery as well.  Needless to say, I’m sure that that there were a lot of people that woke up very sore the following Monday and Tuesday.  All in all it was another great event and was a testament to the ever-increasing popularity of parkour around Europe.
Trust falls.  Photo by Philippe Gaya. 

Forrest leading the stretching at the end of the second day.  Photo by Philippe Gaya.

Brian getting some extra exercise.  Photo by Oliver Thorpe.

Training in the skate park next door.  Photo by Oliver Thorpe. 

Photo by Jun Sato.

The instructors of RDV 6.  Photo by Jun Sato.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Blake

    You've been famous! ;)

    Aksel, Gerlev