Parkour leaps from obscurity around valley

If you’ve seen any action movies in the last five years or so, chances are you’ve seen parkour, whether you knew it or not. It typically shows up when someone is being chased or trying to get somewhere quickly.

“I was in the military overseas when I stumbled across it on YouTube, and some movies,” said Devin Gregoire, who is teaching a parkour class through Las Vegas Movie Mastars Action & Entertainment Nexus, 2700 E. Patrick Lane, No. 16. “I saw it in ‘District B-13’ and a few foreign movies.”

In the films, what the parkour athletes do often seems impossible as they leap over obstacles, jump across gaps over dizzying heights and run up walls to get somewhere efficiently.

“That’s really what parkour is,” said T.J. Quicksilver, Las Vegas Movie Mastars instructor. “It’s just getting from one place to another in the best, safest manner and quickest.”

Safe and legal are two of the more important aspects Quicksilver stresses.

There are thousands of parkour videos on YouTube and similar sites showing parkour enthusiasts breaking the law, trespassing and taking seemingly impossible leaps that would result in injury or death if a small error were made.

Las Vegas Movie Mastars instructors do not encourage that sort of thing, and they limit runs to public property such as parks and discourage the more reckless behavior and jumps.

Gregoire has practiced martial arts and BMX most of his life, so he was in excellent physical shape when he began researching the basics of parkour on americanparkour.com.

“It’s viewed more as a discipline rather than a sport,” Gregoire said. “There’s strong conditioning, learning your body, aerial awareness, knowing what your body is doing and is capable of doing.”

Gregoire and Quicksilver wanted to stress the difference between parkour and freerunning. Both use similar moves and techniques, but freerunning involves more moves done just for style, including back flips, midair spins and other tricks. In practice, freerunning resembles skateboarding without the skateboard.

Parkour classes are scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, with sessions alternating between conditioning and training, at Las Vegas Movie Mastars’ studios, and field parkour practice is offered at a number of sites across the valley. For more information, call 883-1171 or visit moviemastarsnexus.com.

Those who attend classes at Las Vegas Movie Mastars make up just one local group getting into parkour.

North Las Vegas parkour enthusiast Josh Lockwood started a team with a few of his friends. The Urban Aces have been leaping through parks, public spaces, college campuses and gyms for about a year. Lockwood, 16, said he sees the activity as more than just fun.

“I haven’t really been good at anything else in my life,” he said.
“I tried (parkour), and I’m pretty good at it. It’s not really a hobby for me — it’s more like a sport.”

Lockwood sees parkour as potentially leading to competitions, product endorsements or even film stunt work.

The teen recommends that people interested in the sport visit the Urban Aces YouTube page at youtube.com/urbanaceslv.

Las Vegas Parkour maintains a calendar at lasvegasparkour.com to inform participants which valley venue members intend to tackle next. The group meets informally for freerunning during open gym hours from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays at Nevada Elite All Stars, 3265 W. Post Road. There is a $10 fee to enter the gym.

The group is in the process of moving to another gym and constructing obstacles, such as vault boxes and precision bars, to make the space more suitable for parkour practice.

Recent field practices have taken Las Vegas Parkour participants to area parks and UNLV. The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at Greenspun Hall at UNLV, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway.

“We just started having people sign liability waivers, so if they’re younger than 18, they have to bring a parent,” said group co-founder Sylvia Maguina, 21.

Maguina said the group’s meetings are free and open to the public.

“Our coaches — Brahim Meslem, Tej Limlas Ly and Teng-Meng Ly — are professional acrobats for Cirque du Soleil’s ‘KA’ at MGM,” she added.

Las Vegas Parkour is scheduled to host a booth and put on demonstrations at the Community Health Education Empowerment Fair set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Henderson Whole Foods Market, 100 S. Green Valley Parkway.

Contact Sunrise and Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 380-4532.

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