Written by Alan Tran
Published on Friday, 09 September 2011
Storytime children! The following information has always been here, just never recorded into a single piece. The history of the North Carolina community and the athletes that have come and gone with the wind are both completely irrelevant to the development of the sport but it is something that I hold incredibly dear to my heart. Although it holds very little importance, it can help serve as a platform of vision, giving insight on how and why things have shaped the athletes of North Carolina – whether they are traceurs, freerunners, and anything in between.
The story starts with the recent launch of both YouTube and Facebook in 2004, parkour began to infiltrate the tubes that make up the internet. A few guys around the state began to take interest in the new sport through watching videos and figuring out the basic movements. Charlotte and Burlington are the first two cities, to my knowledge, that began their training through the internet. What’s incredibly important to take note of is that the only resource they had at the time were the e-mails, comments, and forums used to communicate with either the French or English athletes. There were no gyms, coaches, regular meet-ups, etc. The only way to learn what others were practicing could only be done through these means of communication – something that took work to not only keep in touch, but to find different approaches, ideas, and theories. Personally, I believe this is what defines the third generation of athletes and there comes a sense of pride knowing that many of us began the practice through self-learning and communication.
In late Spring of 2005, I had learned of parkour and began heavily researching the recent developments. At the time, Parkour.net, the UrbanFreeFlow Forums, and AmericanParkour were the groups to go to for information on anything. Parkour.net was moderated by a few of the French and English offering a very strong approach to efficiency and speed. There was no doubt that Parkour.net offered an international safe haven for those who seeked good information from reputable athletes. UFF brought in thousands of new athletes every week looking for local practitioners and jams. EZ worked incredibly hard to draw the attention to his team of professional athletes and the experience he hald. APK was pretty new at the time but began building a community for those overseas from the capital (France) for all of North America.
On June 25th, an old friend, Alex Carradine, and I took the opportunity to meet up with the Burlington and Charlotte crews. At the time, I didn’t know how the groups knew of each other’s practice but the gathering of these athletes ignited a fire in me. At NCSU, Cliff Boswell, Ian Garner, Manan Banerjee, Steven Erdmanczyk, Duncan Germain, and Luc Dunn were a few of the athletes that had come to share and learn. I don’t want to go into much detail but there was already a community between them all, something was being shared and I wanted in. These were the Charlotte guys and Burlington guys, here I am, with nothing to offer asking to join in, and they did. They not only allowed the Raleigh kiddies to watch but asked us to join in.
Immediately the day after, I signed up on every big parkour community avaliable at the time and began collecting e-mails, usernames, AIM screennames, etc… whatever I could find, whoever was interested, and people I wanted to learn from. This was the start of North Carolina Parkour as an online community, a connection between those who have something to offer and those who were interested in listening, those who were looking for local athletes and those who wanted to train, those who wanted to learn and those who wanted to share. At the time, APK served as the home of the local groups so there was some negative feedback on the project. Many outright refused to sign up in the beginning but we only asked for a chance, a bet that this would be something greater.
At the time, I was only a sophmore in high school with my time being dedicated to both studies and running so I signed up on the first host that offered me space and a url for the trade of advertisements. NCParkour began with IPB before we moved onto GoDaddy on December 27th, 2007. After persuading my mother that the internet was safe and punching in her credit card, I would call this the birth of the community. When I put down the money earned from various odd jobs, a commmitment was taken that would sweep me off my feet…