parkour

Sign up for Advanced Stage Combat plea #4

And the reason this time is:

Strange and unusual weapons.

At Metro, the beginning Stage Combat class covers the basics of both unarmed and rapier techniques. And as you might imagine, the whole 16 weeks’ worth of time is necessary for the introduction and especially the practice, of the bare basics.

In the advanced class, everyone enters knowing the basics, basically (we of course do a review session on our first day), and so we can use that knowledge to move forward into other stuff. This coming semester, we’ll be doing broadswords and staffs, as you’ve already heard about.

But there’s other stuff we’ll cover, too: some have to do with harder versions of the basic weapons. For example, large group fights, sword fighting up and down stairs a la Errol Flynn, circular or erratic footwork in sword fighting, advanced taihenjutsu like dive rolls, simulated (and real) martial arts throws, falling from a height, etc. (See me below, playing around on a climbing wall with a past advanced class–we learned some aerial dance rope stuff as well as basic climbing, plus falling from a height.)

In the past, I’ve also done micro-units on martial arts styles and found weapons (which are normal everyday objects used as weapons–something that pops up in current theatre far more often than, say, swords), and then of course one can also use classic weapons techniques to inform other, more unusual ones.

For example, a knowledge of basic Japanese katana technique will make you pretty decent at wielding a lightsaber (and staff knowledge helps with that double-bladed number Darth Maul had).

This coming Fall (if I can get 12 students signed up), we will be doing a video-game fight unit. And wouldn’t it be cool if I got UCD’s renowned film department in on that project. Is mo-cap, animation, or film technique in our future? Will I bring this class (as I have done for one of our summer private courses) down to one of the Parkour studios in Denver for specialized training? Time will tell. That’s if I get the enrollment numbers.

A reminder: anyone can audit, but anyone attending the three schools on Auraria campus (MSU, CCD, and UCD) can sign up for this course. As of last time I checked, I had 6 enrolled, which is half the required number I need for the class to go.

So. What are you waiting for?

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Revisiting the MinInterviews

On the blog that was, lovely lurkers, I did a Magic Five Question Mini-Interview with a plethora of pretty awesome creatives. Since those have dissolved into the ether, I have decided to re-publish them at my discretion (and depending on which I still have in my document archives). Here’s the first in the rebooted series.   ~Jenn

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5 questions: RYAN FORD              Interviewer: Jenn Zuko Boughn

1)      Why Parkour? Why not martial arts, gymnastics, or dance?

My athletic background consists of mostly team sports like soccer and football but also some individual sports like track and field and tennis. I never got into martial arts, dance, or gymnastics as a kid, but now I wish I did because of the application of similar body awareness skills in Parkour. While I never really considered most individual sports, Parkour was different because I could automatically relate to what was going on in the first videos I saw; climbing trees, jumping rocks, and exploring my surroundings were things that I always did. I think Parkour is so alluring because while it seems like something only superheroes do, there is a little part in all of us that relates it to the things we used to do as kids.

2)      What was the process like to open your successful Parkour studio? How were you able to open the Boulder branch? How are the schools different/same?

Opening a successful Parkour gym was definitely a labor of love. The hardest part of making it a reality was the lack of precedent. We were the 3rd Parkour gym in the world so it was difficult to find any guidance or models to help us learn how to make it work. After teaching out of other gyms for several years, we opened our own gym in downtown Denver with the money we had saved up. After a year of being downtown, we moved to a much bigger space in Englewood. Several months after that, we opened our gym in Boulder. The 2 schools are very much alike in equipment, curriculum, and other aspects because a core group of people have helped them grow and evolve together. Ford

3)      What is the difference between Parkour and Freerunning? (I’ve also heard “street gymnastics”)

Parkour is an art of movement in which you train the body and mind to overcome obstacles in an efficient manner. Freerunning is more creative and allows you to find your own path. Simply put, Freerunning is creative and aesthetic while Parkour focuses on efficiency and utility. It is good to know the differences, but they share many of the same movements, philosophies, and benefits. With APEX Movement, we try to teach them equally and also encourage people to explore all other kinds of movement related activities.

4)      Since I’m a stage combat/stunt fighting specialist, I have to notice and ask: have you noticed that most fight scenes in film have a Parkour aspect to them? How do you feel the two fields combine? Do you like or dislike the theatrical combat/Parkour correlation?

I think it is great to have them combined. Fight or flight go hand in hand so it makes sense to have the lines blur in Hollywood action scenes. In fact, I think it makes the action much better when there is a creative use of the environment. I would much rather watch Jackie Chan flowing through his environment while kicking ass than 2 thugs going at it in a hand to hand pummel-fest.

5)      So I’m a woman about to become 40* with bad knees and years of dance, martial arts, and aerial dance experience. Is it too late for me in Parkour?

It’s never too late to start Parkour. People ask me when did I start Parkour so I ask them, “When did you stop?” Parkour was in every single one of us as a kid. The core philosophies and movements are very instinctual and were what our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to do to stay alive. Parkour should be done by everyone, at varying scales, because it keeps you healthy and challenges your mind. It is not about comparing yourself to others, it is about establishing your current level, and improving your abilities from there. Whether it is through basics or advanced movement skills, there is something for everyone to accomplish and improve upon.

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*I’m now about to turn 42. But then, that’s life, the universe and everything, so.