The weekend of December 13/14 2008 saw the third annual international gathering known as Rendezvous 3, bringing together many of the most experienced practitioners of parkour/art du deplacement in the world for an open seminar in London. Not only did it see Yamakasi founders Chau Belle-Dinh and Yann Hnautra leading the training but several of the Art Du Deplacement Academy instructors from France alongside all of the Parkour Generations collective as well as experienced practitioners from as far away as America, Australia, Brazil and all over Europe. It was set to be the biggest yet of the Rendezvous gatherings, and the most ambitious, and it did not disappoint.
But the weather did! The first day was an outdoors training day, hosted by the iconic Southbank Centre who gave us full use of their entire 21 acres along the river Thames in central London, and it was by far the wettest day in the whole of December. Rain lashed the city in the morning, bringing already cold temperatures crashing down, and we knew that the hundreds of people who had been praying for dry weather that day were to be ignored by the mischievous London gods..!
We had the option of training in the dry. There were several areas within the grounds that are under cover, particularly a skate-park below the Royal Festival Hall, and we could have just about run the majority of workshops sheltered from the elements. However, that option wasn’t even entertained on the day. And strangely, the adverse weather we had hoped would not materialise actually ended up making the day a greater success than we could have planned for.
How? Well, firstly for simple practical reasons. The poor conditions and slippery footing made everyone concentrate that little bit harder on what they were doing, made people think about every step and every move, and kept that focus sharp all day long. With large groups of practitioners let loose on such a great training area, it is common to see the training fade away as people socialise or watch others who are keen to display new skills for an appreciative audience. Not this day. Throughout the five rain-soaked and freezing cold workshops, everyone maintained an impressive level of attention and focus on their actions, everyone looking out for each other and keeping safety at the forefront of their minds. And amazingly, one or two minor bumps aside, there was not one injury of note the entire day.
The poor conditions and slippery footing made everyone concentrate that little bit harder on what they were doing, made people think about every step and every move, and kept that focus sharp all day long
Yet what really made the event a success was that, as everyone pushed through the cold together, it became clear that this day was as much about training the spirit as it was about the body. Parkour is not just about physical prowess and feats of skill and control: these things are relatively easy to learn and to exhibit with good training and a bit of time and effort.
What sets parkour apart is how it shapes the spirit of the individual, how it liberates the mind and brings new vision and perspective on oneself and one’s environment. Part of that spirit is firmly centred in fun and enjoyment, and expressing the simple joy of being alive and full of energy and passion without motive. But another part is rooted in self-reliance, in determination and discipline. In facing what is and overcoming it through harmony and adaptation.
Cowering from the elements and bouncing off a few walls is not what makes a parkour practitioner. Being at the whim of circumstances is not what the art of displacement teaches. That is reaction, to have choice taken away. Parkour is action. It is having the self-will and strength to choose to master the elements and one’s environment, not to be mastered by them.
And clearly there were many parkour practitioners present that day, as not one person complained or shied away from the training – not even when Forrest had everyone sliding along the waterlogged and mud-covered Jubilee Gardens before their routes! What we saw that day was nature laying down its daily challenge, and over 150 people rising to it and showing great character as they did so. It was a pleasure simply to be part of.
The second day seemed like a bonus after that. Held indoors at the Westminster Academy Sports Centre, even the morning conditioning sessions passed easily and lightly in the warmth and comfort of the main hall. With a cleverly constructed scaffolding structure in place for everyone to explore and all sorts of gymnastics equipment covering the room, the place was a veritable playground and both participants and instructors alike wasted no time getting to grips with it.
After the exertion of the first day and the spirit that had birthed among all the participants, the positive vibe on the Sunday was obvious to see and, again, what a pleasure to be part of. We can’t thank everyone enough for putting so much into the training on both days, and we like to think everyone took a lot away from the event. The feedback we have had has been incredible, and it’s worth sharing some of it in the form of a simple email we received the day after from Luca, who came all the way from Italy to take part:
“I’m Luca (from Italy), one of the guys who had the fortune to participate in the fantastic RDV3 of the preceding days. Despite the pain that permeates my body I wanted to find the strength to write you thanks for the great event that you have organized and for all the things that you have taught there and shown. With this event I learned many new things and above all I am starting to really understand what it means to have a true method of training, and I’m increasingly motivated to engage and work hard to improve and reach new goals. Thanks again, and I hope to join soon another event organized by PKGen and Majestic Force!”
However, it really is for us to thank everyone out there who journeyed from near or far to share the experience with us. Seeing that spirit alive and carried from so many countries and different walks of life was a true honour and quite inspirational. If Rendezvous IV can top that, it should be one wild event…
Parkour Generations would like to thank everyone who made the day possible, including Tamsin Ace and the Southbank Centre and Tacita Wallace and Westminster Academy Sports Centre, Eugene Minogue of Westminster Sports Unit, all the team who put so much into organising and administering the event, Majestic Force for giving up sunny France for a weekend, Paul, Mick and Julie for capturing everything on camera and anyone else who helped make it what it was.