Featured in i-D’s Art and Commerce Issue back in 2007, former model Laragh McCann returns to i-D, this time behind the camera. Laragh grabbed her disposable and dived into the extreme world of Parkour. Starting as a total beginner, she documented all she encountered on a physical and spiritual journey through a sport that pushes its players to the limit.
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Since moving to London one of the most exciting things I’ve discovered is Parkour. Over the past few months I have been attending daily classes held by Parkour Generations (one of the major Parkour organisations worldwide). I quickly became interested in the practice and the people that do it. I think it’s visually stunning to watch and extremely fun to do. It is expressive, non competitive and challenging for both mind and body, and is a great place to learn forms of independence and creativity, in a social, supportive environment.
People practice Parkour for simple reasons: a love of the sport, determination to achieve goals and overcome fears, and to experience freedom. There are no rules or limits to parkour. Anything is possible. All that matters is how the individual can fully express themselves, even in the face of personal fears. For a serious traceur, Parkour can have a spiritual dimension and serve as a sort of moving meditation. Traceurs will put a great amount of time and sacrifice into mastering their ability to move fluidly and confidently. And as I was watching the coaches practicing in the park, I witnessed moments of perfect flow, where they looked like they were flying. They travelled with grace and power and made moves that most people would assume were impossible, look effortless.
‘Parkour Rendevouz’ is an annual event held in London involving a weekend of fitness, flexibility training, jumping, leaping and climbing trees, walls and buildings. This year was my first time attending. At the event, there were over two hundred people who came from all over the world. The motto of the weekend was: “We start together! We finish together!” David Belle and Sebastien Foucan, who were part of the original founding Yamakazi group, offered advice, helped and encouraged people to achieve certain jumps and were generally part of the crowd. There were men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Everyone was united in the simple task of trying for their personal best – supporting each other and constantly edging each other towards getting over their fears. At one point I was struggling to get up a high wall and when I eventually got up I heard a huge cheer from behind me. I was embarrassed and delighted.
In parkour there’s a real sense of the sweetness of falling and getting back up again. Fear loses its ability to control and no longer stops us from trying. During a class there is both incredible support and the recognition that each traceur is independent and capable. Each is encouraged to try things that he/she never thought they could achieve, and to face deep fears. We are constantly discovering how much fear limits our actions. Practicing Parkour makes me feel stronger as a person and excited about what I am capable of rather than afraid of what I am not. What I have discovered through both Parkour and my modelling experience is the tremendous value of having a sense of independence and self confidence. So go trip over that wall.
Text: Laragh McCann
Photography: Laragh McCann except for the final two images by Nicholai Fischer