This week, our Universities toolkit launches – designed as a tool to support those who are interested in the options for setting up a Parkour society at their university or college.
Alongside this, we have set up a facebook group for parkour university societies to connect here.
The group will be supported by Hugo Knowles and Sonia Marshall – two practitioners both involved in the development of parkour while at university. You can see their profiles below.
Sonia has kindly taken the time to talk about why she thinks that university parkour opportunities are important:
If you haven’t looked into it before, you may be surprised how many parkour clubs and societies are already set up in universities across the UK – at our latest count we have found 17 – all providing a way for students to discover the sport and find a community of like-minded people. With the support of Parkour UK we’d like to build stronger connections between these existing clubs, and help students in setting up new clubs and with any barriers faced when running clubs.
Often students arriving at university have moved to a new city and don’t know the area well or have any friends there. Parkour provides a way for students to get to know the city and own the space by exploring all the spots, and a way to make friendships that may last throughout their time at university.
Based on our experience at the Edinburgh University Parkour Club, there are a variety of ways students find out about the club. Sometimes people want to start parkour and assume there is already a club. Sometimes people don’t realise there is a parkour club, discover our stall at the sports fair and immediately sign up because they always wanted to try it. Sometimes people have never even heard of parkour before seeing us, get a bit curious and end up joining in. Some students join as a form of exercise once per week, some end up living the whole parkour lifestyle – watching videos, travelling to train in other cities and countries, attending bigger events… and wherever they are on that range, they’re a valuable part of the university parkour community, and the wider parkour community too.
The (usually) small parkour clubs and societies are a great way of introducing people to the wider community. Students can start training with the smaller university group, where lots of the others are new to the city as well, and can get comfortable with that. Then gradually they can get more involved through jams with the local non-student training community, club trips abroad, and meeting students from other universities.
In April 2019, around 40 students from 14 different universities gathered for a weekend of jamming, classes and socialising. Students travelling from other cities were hosted by local practitioners. This was The Big Edinburgh JUMP – the first UK-wide inter-university parkour event. Although it must have been the rainiest parkour event any of us had ever experienced, that didn’t dampen our spirits and we managed to have a smashing time, and make some great connections.
We look forward to strengthening this network of clubs and societies, so each can support the other, and most importantly, outside of pandemic times, meet up and jam together.
We encourage anyone who is training parkour at a university where there isn’t an official club to get in touch, ask for advice – and go ahead and start up that club! With the support of your university you’ll be amazed at how many new students you can reach, and spread the love of parkour.
Hi, I’m Hugo and I study for a BA in Theatre & Performance at the University of Leeds. I’ve trained parkour for 6.5 years and used to coach with Project Z Parkour in Manchester. As a bisexual parkour practitioner, I’m passionate about inclusion and diversity in the parkour community – my DMs are always open for anyone wanting a chat and/or a safe space to discuss these topics! Although Leeds doesn’t have a parkour society, I do research into parkour/space/performance as part of the Laidlaw Scholarship for six weeks every summer, and recently presented my research at the uni’s Undergraduate Research Experience conference. I’m buzzing to meet other university parkour people and (post-COVID) travel to your unis to train – we all know uni campuses have the best spots!
Hello, I’m Sonia, a fourth year student studying Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. I started parkour aged 10 and I’m still just as excited about jumping around! I am the founder and president of the Edinburgh University Parkour Club, and a coach at Access Parkour. I love to travel to train in different cities and countries and meet other parkour communities. I can’t wait to get back to jamming and making more connections between the university communities across the UK.