Girls and Parkour

By Ann Kaczka   The decision to begin conditioning and training is an easier commitment for guys to make because, in many cases, they already have an armor of fitness...
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By Ann Kaczka

 

The decision to begin conditioning and training is an easier commitment for guys to make because, in many cases, they already have an armor of fitness that allows them to easier adapt to the specific type of conditioning that parkour needs. I have talked to women here in the States who have an interest in practicing parkour, but because upper body strength is so important, because conditioning taxes your body so harshly and (perhaps most importantly) because the communities are dominated by men, it turns many females off.

When I finally decided to train parkour, I felt really intimidated by the male-dominated, global community. I felt utterly outnumbered despite the enthusiasm and encouragement I got from many traceurs. There are many out there (male and female alike) who feel content in leaving criticizing comments on youtube and in discussion forums, but in the end, there are the people who go out and train, and those who do not. There is a great quote by Hunter S. Thompson that is quickly becoming my new motto:

“Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

Ann Kaczka, Dame Du Lac, France.

In watching videos of the parkour elite, I think it is a little scary for a woman to think she could emulate their method of movement because men and women are built so differently. We all approach physical and mental training differently, regardless of gender, but there are biological differences between the males and females that force us to train and approach obstacles differently.

The female community has a long way to go over here in the States. Of the approximate 80 traceurs to come out for the Generations training day here in New York, there were only 4 women. When David Belle came in October for the New Yorker Festival demo and training day, of about 45 traceurs, I was the only woman who participated! Being that I am just beginning my journey in parkour, I recognize that I have a ton to learn. As a woman, though, it is difficult to emulate David, Stephane, Forrest or any of these guys, because of said physical differences. At the same time, I am sure it is difficult for Forrest to emulate Stephane or vice versa, because they are built so differently. All traceurs and traceuses need to find their own way to work and express themselves, but because there are so few established females figures to look up to in parkour, we females need to find inspiration and encouragement from each other. That is why I really believe in this web site and what it is trying to accomplish. To build a global community for females is something that we need, not only for tips and information, but also for inspiration. There are good traceuses out there, and not just because they are good when you consider they are women, they are good because they train hard and hold their own.

Ann Kaczka, Dame Du Lac, France.

 

As a woman beginning her parkour journey, I still wonder how it will change my body. When you begin training out on the concrete and you start getting cuts all over your hands and arms, you are sweating and in pain…it’s not exactly feminine. After the New Yorker jam, a co-worker saw the bruises on my arm and cuts on my hands and asked what happened to me. I, very tired and without thinking, simply replied, “David Belle.” The co-worker then said something about a battered women’s shelter and how I shouldn’t take that from my boyfriend. Ha!

What I am getting to is that everyone should understand why they are doing what they are doing, not just in parkour, but also in life. It is all too easy to get hung up on the spectacle of parkour and get caught up in following the bible of David Belle or Sebastian Foucan…flips or no flips, tricks or no tricks. As far as I’m concerned, if you are happy doing it, then you don’t have to explain anything or answer to anyone. All you must do to be a successful traceur or traceuse is to simply train hard, train safe, train with conviction and passion, in the right spirit and always for the right reasons.

 

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