The Path of Frequent Resistance

Michael Zernow

“It’s a summer night in Oz Park and Michael Zernow, whom everyone here knows as “Frosti,” is undressed for action. Wearing nothing but black shorts, yellow sneakers, and a black skullcap, he stands on a two-inch-wide plank and prepares to run a precarious route on, over, and around the play lot equipment he’s using as an obstacle course.

Frosti takes a flying leap from the top crossbar of a wooden play set to a ledge on another playset several yards away that looks like a castle rampart. His feet land with perfect precision. He then winds in and out of the structure’s various openings like a centipede. After crawling along the exterior of the play set, he takes another flying leap, about four feet down to the ground. His landing makes barely a sound. His bare torso—inscribed with a tattoo that says change yourself, inspire the people, save the world—is glistening with sweat.

The discipline he has just demonstrated is called parkour, which in France, where it originated, means “obstacle course” and is also known as “the art of displacement.” Parkour is based on finding ways to get from point A to point B in the quickest manner possible. Typically, that means jumping over, climbing on, or flipping off of any obstacle in your path. Frosti’s version of parkour also incorporates elements of “freerunning,” a variation that emphasizes stunts more than speed. If you saw the 2006 Bond movie Casino Royale, you saw Daniel Craig chase the creator of freerunning, Sebastian Foucan, up, down, and around a construction site, including the cranes.”

(via The Chicago Reader. h/t: APK)

4 Comments

  1. Here’s a better article about parkour:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/04/16/070416fa_fact_wilkinson
    I can safely say it’s better because they actually talk with David Belle, the founder of the discipline.
    Besides, I’ve got tons of links for parkour-related material laying around. Wrote a essay about it last year. It’s in Swedish though, and I don’t have the time to translate it atm. Might pop up eventually though.
    Here’s a blog post from one of earlier practitioners first trip to Lisses:
    http://thomadventures.blogspot.com/2007/05/memories-of-early-parkour-experiences.html
    I could mail you all of the links if you want to?
    I suppose I could post them in comments as well, but that’d be a very long comment, and a bit hard to get a good overview of when writing it.

  2. Thumbs-up for the parkour interest

    Mike’s from my hometown in Michigan. Did a brief on Survivor when they featured in China.

  3. Thanks for the links Illogic! Klintron’s working on a “submit a link” form for the site. I’m sure he’ll post about it as soon as it’s up.

    Good to know there are readers interested in my adventure/extreme sports posts. Thanks for the feedback!

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