Taking to the streets (and walls and roofs) of Jozi: What is parkour?

Posted on 3 November 2021 By Anita Froneman

Some people thrive on adrenaline, and are always seeking their next big thrill. Parkour, or freerunning, is another exhilarating sport that’s taking the country by storm. Even though it’s been around for years, many talented athletes are now making the sport popular in South Africa.

We interviewed the extraordinary Red Bull parkour athlete Dominic Di Tommaso to find out more.

But first, what exactly is parkour?

Parkour athletes aim to get from one point to another without any equipment by running, jumping, climbing, swinging (other epic moves) across an environment. It is usually practised in urban spaces, but can be done anywhere and athletes see the world as their obstacle course.

Athletes study their environment and plan how to best navigate it by moving around, across, through, over and under its features.

‘It focuses on developing the fundamental attributes required for such movement which include functional strength and fitness, balance, spatial awareness, agility, coordination, precision, control and creative vision,’ explains Parkour UK. ‘It is a sport that encourages self-improvement on all levels, revealing one’s physical and mental limits while simultaneously offering ways to overcome them.’

Here’s what this looks like:

We chatted to Australian freerunner Dominic Di Tommaso who recently took to the streets of Johannesburg. Di Tommaso saw a video of parkour on YouTube in 2007, and never looked back. ‘I started straight away and never stopped!’ he says. 

What motivates and inspires you when you’re out doing your courses?

The community and other athletes around me are my biggest inspiration. There is always a personal drive to progress and get better but it doesn’t compare to the inspiration I get from parkour people. 

What are the risks of parkour and how can you mitigate them? 

Like everything, parkour has an inherent risk. One of the beauties of the sport is learning to manage the risks and assess all aspects before doing any jumps. 

What is your favourite part about the sport?

My favourite part of the sport is doing jumps! I know it sounds simple but it brings me the purest of joy. It is a very good way to learn to use your body and understand its limitations. It’s also a great way to get in good physical shape plus it’s really fun and a great outlet of energy. 

Pictures: Red Bull Content Pool


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