You may have seen them leaping from low walls in Plaza Italia, jumping fences in Parque Centenario, or doing backflips down the streets of Buenos Aires. Calling themselves, ‘traceurs,‘ these urban athletes practice a sport (though some would call it a lifestyle) known as parkour: learning to move through their environment efficiently, stylishly, and safely, all while constantly improving themselves through discipline and diligent practice.

As popularity for the sport has grown, however, the community is experiencing growing pains, coming face to face with a difficult problem— do they allow outside influencers to enter the community and host official parkour competitions? Do they band together and start their own league in order to compete with each other? Or do they turn their backs on the temptation of sponsorships, cash-rich regulatory bodies, and other outsiders in order to maintain their community spirit?

A parkour artist jumps towards the camera as two other traceurs in Buenos Aires. Photo by Jason Sheil
Three ‘traceurs,’ the preferred term for a practitioner of parkour, work on technique during a community meeting in Avellaneda. These meetings, called ‘jams’ are an important chance for the growing community to come together and learn from one another. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A parkour traceur in a gray, Freefly Parkour, shirt jumps down from a large obstacle. Photo by Jason Sheil
A traceur descends from an obstacle in front of the Area X sign in Avellaneda. This parkour space, paid for by the city and maintained by the parkour community, contains obstacles of all shapes and sizes. Being able to descend safely from these obstacles is an essential skill for traceurs attempting to move efficiently through the park. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

Many traceurs practice parkour together in Avellaneda. Photo by Jason Sheil
A small sample of Avellaneda’s Area X Parkour park swarming with traceurs during a community ‘jam’ in March. Over 50 parkour enthusiasts showed up to learn from each other, meet new members, and talk about their shared love of urban acrobatics. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A female traceuse with a blond braid next to Juano Fernandez, a male traceur and coach, in front of a large obstacle. Photo by Jason Sheil
Juano Fernandez, a parkour traceur and instructor, works with a student as another female traceuse climbs the obstacle in front of them. While the community is overwhelmingly male, there has always been a strong group of female practitioners in Argentina; a segment that is steadily growing as the sport becomes more popular. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

Two men jump through the air in a parkour park south of Buenos Aires. Photo by Jason Sheil
Two traceurs in mid-leap. Originally, parkour was developed in order to move as efficiently as possible from point A to B. Learning to jump large distances is a critical component of a traceur’s training. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A young woman climbs over an obstacle at Area X Parkour Park. Photo by Jason Sheil
A female traceuse completes a ‘vault’: a technique for moving efficiently over low walls, bars, and fences. Moves like these are necessary skills to practice in order to have more freedom of movement in an urban environment. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A man backflips over the flag of Argentina as his friends watch. Photo by Jason Sheil
A traceur performs a backflip in front of his nation’s flag. The parkour of today has evolved beyond its practical, point-A-to-B beginnings and now includes flashy, stylish moves like flips, spins, and other acrobatic eye candy. Some purists make a distinction between these kinds of moves and true parkour, grouping superfluous movement into its own discipline: freerunning. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A man flies through the air after leaping of a car tire lying on the ground. Photo by Jason Sheil
A traceur performs a front flip off of a tire. Traceurs learn to use all elements of their environment to practice the sport. Area X gives them this opportunity by including a wide range of obstacles with which to practice. (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A man with long dark hair, Brian Rosenfeld, prepares to vault over a low blue wall. Photo by Jason Sheil
Brian Rosenfeld, a longtime traceur, vaults over an obstacle. Rosenfeld, who owns a parkour gym in Buenos Aires, loves the community. “We have something special here, we don’t want to destroy it.” At the moment, there’s a debate bubbling beneath the surface of the community regarding competition. Should Argentine parkour artists compete against one another? Rosenfeld thinks not. “Our community helps each other and supports each other. Competition will only ruin that.” (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A man jumps through the air as his friends watch from a platform behind him. Photo by Jason Sheil
A traceur completes a complicated aerial maneuver as community members watch and lend support. The traceurs at this ‘jam’ were overwhelmingly supportive of other parkour practitioners and the community spirit was palpable. However, while some feel this spirit might dissolve if official competition is introduced, others aren’t so sure. “There are some that want to bring parkour to the Olympics,” says Rosenfeld, “I think they will do it. I think they will win. What can we do?” (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A man raise his arms triumphantly and smiles, having just completed a difficult jump between two metal bars in the streets of Buenos Aires. Photo by Jason Sheil
Juano Fernandez, bottom left, cheers on another traceur during a practice session in February. Fernandez is a strong proponent of introducing competition to the parkour community. “Other sports have competition and they still have a strong community. If we’re smart about it, we can do the same.” (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A man in a white shirt that reads, "Nautra Jam 2018" watches his friend jump between metal bars in Plaza Italia, Buenos Aires. Photo by Jason Sheil
Juano ‘Rabbit’ Fernandez watches a friend jump between metal bars in Plaza Italia. Fernandez is currently looking to work with the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), an athletic body that wants to bring parkour to the Olympics. However, he’s cautious, as he’s received plenty of pushback from the community. “We have to be careful,” he warns, “our community has grown on its own so far… We don’t want to move too quickly and lose that spirit.” (Photo via Jason Sheil)

 

A man jumps through the air with the flag of Argentina waving in the background. Photo by Jason Sheil
Juano Fernandez and other traceurs watch a community member at March’s community ‘jam’. Despite differences of opinion regarding the future of their discipline, the spirit at March’s open jam was open, friendly, and welcoming. Traceurs like Fernandez and Rosenfeld put aside their feelings about the Olympics, the FIG, and the evolution of their community in order to practice, learn from each other, and have a great time. (Photo via Jason Sheil)



Publicado en Bubble.ar el
2018-04-14 09:00:03

Autor:
Jason Sheil

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