A radical and efficient way of navigating urban spaces, the art of parkour is very much alive and kicking. Singaporean parkour practitioner Denester tells us more.
When did you first get into parkour?
Back when I was 14, I was over at a friend’s house watching the movie Yamakasi. It’s a French movieabout parkour done by the pioneers of the art itself. After watching the movie, we went downstairs and tried to mimic some of their stunts at a void deck. Soon, it became an everyday after-school activity — we would hang out at this playground near school and try climbing up walls and jumping off them.
How did your family members react when they found out about your interest in parkour?
They were generally accepting, and they trust that I know what I’m doing despite having had accidents and injuries. They support me in my travels and my passion in this, which I’m very thankful for.
Speaking of injuries, you must have sustained some during the pursuit of perfection.
I’m glad to say I have not suffered any really severe injuries, such as fractures or broken bones. The most horrible “fail” I had was missing a three-storey “cat leap” and having to take a huge drop onto a staircase. I landed on my feet but the impact was too heavy on my back and I sprained it in the process. I was still able to move during the next few days, but it was definitely a bad memory that I’ve learned from!
You’ve been practicing for nine years now. What’s a typical parkour routine for you?
Most of my free time is spent on training. I just go to a training spot and drill some jumps, find new opportunities and challenges and attempt to get it. I usually try to have fun and push myself every time to achieve something new!
What are the common misconceptions about parkour?
Everyone thinks of parkour as jumping from buildings to buildings, doing flashy flips and being able to take a three-storey drop. The media over-sensationalize parkour; what you see in the movies is vastly different from the actual practice itself. Parkour is only as dangerous as you make it up to be. We build up our basics from the ground up and work a lot on our foundation strength and landing technique before we progress to bigger jumps.
Now that you’re based in Melbourne, does it affect the way you parkour?
It’s pretty much the same except that it’s much colder, which is better, but sometimes it gets overbearingly cold. The scene here isn’t quite as active in Singapore I guess. Melbourne still has pretty awesome spots to train at, and I’m doing a lot more strength training in the gym than actually training parkour, as I have to juggle my passion with work and school. It’s still great though, no complaints!
What is that one move that you’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t master?
Not parkour related, but freerunning-wise, I’m really bad at twists and I wish to improve! There is a big difference between parkour and freerunning — parkour does not consist of flips as it’s more of fast efficient movement, while freerunning incorporates the flashy aesthetic elements of movement with parkour.
There are some other critically acclaimed traceurs out there on YouTube. Who are the ones that inspire you?
There are so many parkour and freerunning athletes in the world that I look up to, but my current favorites would be Endijs Miscenko, Dimitris “DK” Kyrsanidis, Alexander Schauer, Bob Reese and Pavel “Pasha” Petkuns.
Do you personally think that parkour is experiencing a resurgence?
I’m not quite sure if it’s experiencing a resurgence, but I guess people are gaining more awareness about it as time passes.
What advice would you give to aspiring parkour practitioners?
Parkour is a lot of hard work. But that does not mean you can’t get good at it! Do some research online and watch video tutorials, get in contact with your local parkour community and join them in their parkour jam sessions to learn a thing or two. Everyone and anyone can try this out. But make sure you start small as foundation is king.
This interview with Denester has been edited and condensed.