(Updated with Slideshow) Parkour: We Try to Become Our Very Own Leaping, Spinning, Pipe-Grabbing, Pedestrian-Avoiding Jason Bourne
A small crowd gathered nearby, watching our sweaty mass acrobat from across the Wortham's walls. Some shouted encouragement. Some children couldn't quite place us. We moved along a circular route -- more walls, a switched landing, lighter footwork. Landing that first reverse twist -- easily the most difficult maneuver of the day -- built up the confidence of which Hamner warned, which is promptly deflated when your toe slaps the wall too low, sending your nearly tumbling into your instructor's arms. Slower next time. More sure. More controlled.
Thirty minutes of this -- or maybe longer? Parkour has a funny sense of eliminating a sense of time and schedule -- and it's time for the cooling stretches. One of the toddlers watching us joins in. And it's funny, actually, that these kids passing by did take such an interest. Certainly made us laugh a few times. But it makes sense, because, after all, we're just doing what they're doing. We're just jumping around, because it's a beautiful day, and because we can, and because it's as much fun as it is focus. We're just exploring a playground most of us simply pass through.
"I've never really done parkour before -- a couple of these classes, but that's it," said Jonathan Kung, a 24-year-old participant. "But I was a kid, right? So I've done this. It's been awhile, but I've done this."
And you're wiped at the end, but you're wired. You suddenly start seeing these routes popping up from the piping and scaffolding and bayou canals surrounding you. You suddenly realize you don't have to wait for the light, or for the sidewalk to turn. You can cut this way. You can skip that line. You aren't stuck in whatever grid or route or way.
Yeah, it can help whenever you need to close the gap between you and the thief with the stolen blueprints. And it can also be used to piss off the security guards who've let their power run to their head. But that's not what parkour's for. It's for being, and for lasting. It's for a philosophy. It's for allowing in a new framework -- even when there's no framework to speak of.
"It's an adventure, sure," says Hamner. "But this adventure's long-term. And that's why it's about lasting. That's why it's a philosophy. That's why we do parkour."