Bryhanna Greenough doesn’t recommend jumping over buildings.
Parkour is an art where your obstacle course is your city. Buildings, trees, fences, walls, park benches, whatever. You pick a direction, start running, and maneuver through, around, over, or under whatever appears in your way with grace and skill. It’s a martial art that originated in the suburbs of Paris that requires quick-thinking, physical dexterity, and maybe a good pair of running shoes.
(If you’re having trouble imagining, think of a chase scene in a Jackie Chan movie. Or if you still can’t picture it, I’d compare it to the way my cat hurries his way through the fenced yards when I call him in for dinner.)
Recently, just to see what would happen, I googled “Parkour Newfoundland.”
The first thing that came up was a video on YouTube with the curious title “Fierce Battle (Ninja Moon Part 4).”
The opening shot shows a twenty-something guy in what looks like a tongue-in-cheek Bruce Lee headband doing a one-handed vault over the Masonic Temple’s wrought iron enclosure. He’s being chased. Later, he flies off a dumpster in a spinning roundhouse kick. The dark green exterior of the LSPU Hall flashes by. He launches off The Ship’s white concrete planters and over a fence, then a few martial arts kicks are exchanged. One scales the wall with the Shawnadithit graffiti, then heads back up to the fire escape on the CompuCollege building on Solomon’s Lane.
It’s, basically, a Hong Kong martial-arts flick set in downtown St. John’s.
These guys aren’t fooling around. They have real strength, real guts and real skills, but what makes this especially interesting is the fact that their choreography is set to the familiar features of the city.
Hey, I’ve never imagined going down Solomon’s Lane without using the stairs before. I don’t know about you.
St. John’s local Dash Malone (Yes, that is a real name) is Ninja Moon’s lead actor and director. He talks a mile a minute, and it’s obvious he loves what he does.
“When we were doing the movie last summer we got so crazy,” he says. “We were doing parkour every day and we got what we called ‘parkour vision’ – everywhere we looked we were seeing jumps and stuff. It makes your gut tighten. Driving around you see a jump and you get an adrenaline rush just from imagining it.”
The MUN Religious Studies major has been doing martial arts for a long time -Kung Fu, Muay-Thai, Jit Kwon Do, and others. He’s even traveled to China and Thailand to study it.
Like Bruce Lee, Dash’s philosophy is to use everything he knows rather than limiting himself to a single doctrine.
On one part of the video Dash does a really, really big rooftop jump. When I bring it up he laughs and says “I promised my dad I wouldn’t do anything like that again. And that’s pretty reasonable.”
He explains you can easily burn out your body doing big tricks. He compares it to breakdancing, where if you do power moves all the time you probably won’t have a long career.
“But if you do popping and locking, and throw a few power moves in, it’s still good,” he says.
Likewise, Dash says Parkour is a martial art that’s more than just jumping off buildings. And it’s not about fighting. It’s about escaping bad situations.
“Parkour is a useful tool that can help you keep healthy, help you be in beautiful form and help you escape scenarios. It shouldn’t be hurting you or other people.”
These days Dash is in production with a new film, an homage to Hong Kong movies and anime. While Ninja Moon was mostly a parkour demonstration video, he hopes this one will be a bona fide film.
“It will be the difference between showing you’re able to do a physical feat and being able to present it in a Charlie Chaplin sort of way.” When it’s finished, he’ll be pitching it to the film fests.
“For me parkour doesn’t just mean doing the intense stuff, it means physically expressing my body.
“It is something I want to do all my life,” says Dash. “On days where I feel really bad I want to still be able to do an aerial cartwheel or vault a rail.”
Illustration by Kira Sheppard