The urban subculture of parkour is said to exist somewhere between martial arts and sport.
For most people, it’s an activity that probably brings to mind images of super athletes leaping and flipping off rooftops and walls.
But there’s another less dangerous and more controlled side to the discipline, which was on display in Newcastle on Sunday at The Station – once the end of the line for trains into town.
Renew Newcastle is renowned for making use of vacant spaces, most notably empty shops, at a time when the city’s revitalisation was still in its infancy.
Now the not-for-profit organisation has the task of bringing The Station to life. So it gave some space and time to the parkour enthusiasts, who did exactly this.
Newcastle Parkour co-founder Jason Phua said parkour was about “overcoming obstacles, whether they be physical or mental”.
“It’s a way of living and seeing the world,” Mr Phua said.
“We train ourselves to be ready for emergencies.
“Imagine you’re being chased by a big dog. You’ll be running, climbing and vaulting to get out of there as quick as possible.”
Jerra Williams, 14, was among a group of teenagers involved in the parkour display.
Jerra said he’d become much fitter since he started the activity about a year ago. It had improved his strength, endurance and coordination.
“I saw it on TV and YouTube and wanted to give it a try,” Jerra, of Toronto, said.
“It turned out to be loads of fun. You can do it anywhere.”
Civic, Nobbys, Honeysuckle and Bar Beach tend to be favourite spots for outdoors’ parkour. But it’s also done indoors at classes at The Ninja Parc at Howzat in Cooks Hill.
Newcastle Parkour co-founder Alex Rzechowicz said parkour gives people confidence.
“It helps them become more coordinated,” he said.
“One of the kids we trained was riding downhill on a bike and his front tyre got stuck. He went headfirst over the handlebars, but the skills he learned at parkour meant he rolled and didn’t break any bones.”
The group now has a female instructor and an increasing number of girls involved, which he said was quite an achievement given it had been a male-dominated activity.