Danziel Carre talks to Tah Riq about Parkour … and his visions for the sport in Bali. Photos: Natasha Serezhnikova.
Tah, what is parkour, and when did you first get into it?
Traditionally, parkour is the discipline of negotiating any obstacles in your environment with just the faculties of your mind and body, to move most efficiently from point A to point B. It began in the suburbs of Paris in the 1980s with a group of teenagers who, inspired by their fathers’ military and fire-fighting heroics, developed a whole system of movement techniques and really took it into a sport of its own. About seven years ago I discovered it through the video game, Assassin’s Creed – imagining how cool it would be if people could move like in the game. Upon discovering it was real, I was compelled. It was the first sport I’d been drawn to in 10 years.
What else got you hooked?
The idea of being able to overcome anything in your environment using only your body and mind. The idea of overcoming obstacles – in any form – is something that people go through in life. Whether it’s “I’ve hit a wall at work” or, “I need to take a leap into a new career”, people are constantly analogising their hardships and circumstances. I think what parkour does – especially if you make the link conscious – is give you the tools and aptitudes to overcome obstacles. If you consciously link a challenge that you face in your life to a physical representation of it, by virtue of overcoming one challenge, you dissolve the other and create real change.
Sounds powerful … where in your own life has this practice and outlook proved itself to help overcome challenges?
I was in Liverpool on top of a church roof and the idea of jumping off the roof absolutely terrified me. At the time, I was living in the UK selling computers after graduating with a degree and Masters in 3D animation, and I felt desperately stuck … like I needed to take a leap of faith. And, a weird thing happened – I thought, “what does this jump remind me of elsewhere in my life?” That was the real pivotal turning point in my understanding of life and obstacles.
I thought, “it would be like quitting my job tomorrow, not knowing how I’d pay my rent or bills – because both are a leap of faith”. I vowed to jump off the roof … and if I did I would quit my job, never thinking for a second I’d actually do it then. But over the course of that weekend, I’d pushed past so many mental barriers and stood looking at the jump with bleeding hands from a move I’d just tried, disconnected from any physical pain or what my eyes could see, feeling very strong from what I’d just done … and I threw caution to the wind and jumped … successfully. True to my word, I walked into work the next day at 9am and resigned. It was hugely empowering. The funny thing was I was on such a high from having just quit, three hours later while talking to a customer I accepted his higher-paying offer as an animator.
Since then, I’ve taught overweight, shy kids who, over the course of their training, have lost weight and become confident in their bodies and with themselves. One student wanted to beatbox but assumed it’d be too difficult – when he began looking at what he’d accomplished in class, he started believing more. I taught him the absolute basics in minutes, and two weeks (and a lot of practice) later, he came back killing it! There have been some pretty profound transformations and cool successes.
Where can I do parkour in Bali?
It tends to be more of a big-city thing because of the labyrinthine design of cities with confined spaces, walls and railings. At the moment parkour can be practiced at the Parkour Playland at 3V in Canggu, which I designed just over a year ago, or in Denpasar with the local 20-somethings around Puputan Park. I’ve got something special in the works opening soon, which may be a real game-changer for the sport …
How’d you go from doing it in the UK to becoming Bali’s “parkour ambassador”?
After a couple years of excessive partying and drinking here, I was pretty chubby and out of shape with crappy stamina. When this opportunity presented itself, I saw there was potential to do something different in Bali that hadn’t been done before, but didn’t trust myself …
If quitting my job was like a leap of faith, starting a parkour venture was more like climbing a mountain. So when the owner of 3V, Franck Girardot, invited me to climb Mount Agung, it was exactly the kind of uphill struggle I needed to prove to myself I could do it. At the time it was the hardest physical thing I’d ever done but I vowed unless I could get to the very top and come back down,
I would not do parkour in Bali. If I had somehow managed to find it in me to get to the top and back down, I’d earn the right. That became my motivation. And any time I just wanted to quit, I’d just say, okay, just keep putting one foot in front of the other at your own pace. When I got back to the bottom, falling every five steps because my legs kept giving way under me, I felt I’d really earned it. Over the ensuing six months, I shed all the weight, got in the best shape I’d ever been in, and really became the ambassador for parkour.
The idea of being able to associate real change with real challenge is very much how I live my life. You have to choose the right analogy for your challenge and if you do that, then you can overcome the life challenge by overcoming the physical challenge, simply by pre-associating them together. And it does work.
What’s the deal with your newest venture?
Well … drum roll please, I’m building the first MTM Superhero Factory. A parkour-inspired, indoor, movement-tainment zone where you can play-test your superpowers safely. It’s a space where anybody of any age can come and explore their boundaries in a controlled environment. Some will play, others will train – it’s really open to your own interpretation, but the idea is to grow superheroes.
It will develop into a real-life platform game, where instead of just jumping for badges and points, you’ll actually get real, tangible rewards, especially for helping others. There’ll be ranks, assessments and you’ll be able to see all your progress documented … all kinds of things that’ll make it a very engaging experience.
There’s a lot of innovative ideas going into this that haven’t been done anywhere, I’ve checked. When all these pieces are put into this one formula, it’s gonna make something really special. The ultimate goal is to create a hub for people to become good at anything – workshops, invited gurus etc included.
Using physical ways of training, we’ll show people where their mind is at and how to overcome, first, their mental obstacles – which they can then apply to the rest of their life to lead more fulfilling lives in other areas. It’s going to be huge!