Parkour training in Delhi
In July this year, Red Bull decided to send one of their parkour athletes, Mohammad Al Attar, also known as Double Trouble, to India to conduct a parkour workshop. His destination was not Mumbai, or Delhi, or Bangalore, but Rampur, in Uttar Pradesh. It was the Kuwait-based Al Attar’s second trip to India. In November last year, he had visited Mumbai to judge Red Bull’s first parkour competition in India. Participation was limited, but 9 of the 16 contestants, and 2 of the top 3, had come from Rampur, which is becoming the unlikely hotbed for Indian parkour enthusiasts. “I found the boys from Rampur very enthusiastic, ” says Al Attar. “They are talented and unique and have a bright future.”
So, how did Rampur, which is mostly known for its sugar-refining and cotton-milling industries, start practising an urban sport invented in France? Most of the credit must go to Mujahid Habib, 22, who, in 2007, began imitating stunts he saw Jackie Chan perform in movies. Habib was jumping and vaulting over walls and staircases, but he didn’t know what he was doing was a sport till a friend showed him YouTube videos of parkour. Habib began gaining admirers of all ages — from 14-year-old Aman Kumar to 29-year-old Firsat Ali — and founded a parkour team named Team Leonine. In November last year, Habib won Red Bull’s Indian competition and he will be going to Greece this October to watch Art of Motion, the world’s premier parkour and free-running competition.
Not everyone was supportive of Habib when he began practicing parkour. Many told his team there was no future in parkour and that they could get severely injured trying it. Habib says no one has been seriously hurt so far. Moods would eventually change when people saw Team Leonine’s skills on display in the movie Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and advertisements for Mountain Dew and Thumbs Up.
Unlike other sports, parkour does not require a training ground. All an aspiring free-runner needs is a soft surface to land on —either a landing mat or sand. In fact, the more complex the layout, the better. “It is not a complicated sport. All you have to do is use your imagination and utilise your surroundings, ” says Habib. “Parkour is both physical and mental. However, it’s not the physics you study in school; it’s the physics that your mind can imagine, ” says Al Attar.