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南華早報 - (Running wild)
2007-03-14 Young Post Y1
If you see a group of guys scaling down the side of a building, jumping over rails, or somersaulting over paving stones, don't be alarmed - there's is a good chance they are members of the free running group Zippies.
Free running, or parkour in French, is neither a sport nor martial art, but a blend of both with a touch of urban edginess.
Created by Frenchman Sebastien Foucan and David Belle and introduced in Hong Kong about two years ago, free running incorporates death-defying, but beautiful, jumps from rooftop to rooftop, sprints interspersed by leaps over railings, and flips and kicks off walls.
Some argue that free running and parkour are separate disciplines: free running highlights the style and fluidity of movement while parkour enthusiasts aim to reach a destination as quickly as possible.
But fans of both will agree that free running requires a passion for sports and a high tolerance for adrenalin overload.
With these two traits, a pair of protective gloves and shock-absorbent shoes, anyone can learn free running.
It's not a sport most parents would be thrilled with, however.
But Zippies members say they always take precautions.
"Safety always comes first, artistic value comes second," said Caspar Keung Kam-kui, a 19-year-old free runner who is also a professional stuntman.
"Passers-by may be worried that we'll hurt ourselves. But, before we make any daring moves, we calculate precisely our speed, the pressure we will feel when we land and where we land, and how long we will be in the air."
The boys say none of them or anyone they know have had any serious injuries resulting from free running.
"We practise in stadiums before trying out in public areas," said Joe Chan Chi-wing, 26, who is also a professional stuntman.
"When we do it in public, we choose a time and place where there are fewer people around. We don't want anyone, especially kids, imitating us when they don't know how much preparation we've put in before doing the stunts."
While many free runners around the world are attracted to the sport because it is active and fun, members of Zippies say their interest developed from their job.
As stuntmen, they incorporate the moves and ideas they read about on free running websites into their work.
They believe that free running is a skill every stuntman ought to have.
"Free running takes a lot of practice.
"To develop the guts to do a move, overcome your fear, and end up being able to complete it with confidence takes hours and hours," said Chan.
"Yet the satisfaction you feel is something that simply cannot be described in words."
One of the philosophies of free running is to overcome the obstacles you face. It tests your limits as well as your confidence.
"Team spirit is also important to the sport," said Nash Law Kwok-wai, 21.
"We may do the stunts individually, but there are always peers protecting us from the front and behind."
With cars and pedestrians everywhere, the free runners claim it is difficult finding the right places to practise.
"We look out for suitable places wherever we go. We choose areas with little traffic or pedestrians. Cheung Sha Wan, Choi Hung, So Uk and Shek Kip Mei are some of our favourite places," said Keung.Source(s): Wisenews database