Story transcripts

Go Jump

Sunday, September 16, 2007
The latest James Bond film fights were inspired by a wild street sport called parkour — a craze that's firing the imagination around the world.
Reporter: Liz Hayes

Producers: Stephen Rice, Garry McNab and Margaret Kerr

Now, if you've seen the latest James Bond movie there are two things you'll remember — Daniel Craig, and that spectacular opening chase sequence.

If you haven't seen it, let me tell you it's exhausting, truly breathtaking.

What's more, all that running and jumping was for real, no special effects. It was inspired by a wild street sport called parkour. Which is kind of like skateboarding without the skates.

The fastest way to get from A to B on foot, taking every obstacle in your stride, quite literally.

And when you see the experts fly, you'll understand why this craze is firing the imagination of kids right round the world.


LIZ HAYES: You've probably seen it and never quite knew what it was. It's called 'parkour' and it's not for the faint-hearted, where streets become a kind of urban assault course for those with plenty of testosterone … and it's arrived in Australia.

ANTHONY: Yeah, it's totally mad! Running, somersaulting, and hair-raising leaps across impossible concrete and steel terrain.

ANTHONY: I just love the fact that you can pretty much express yourself and do whatever you want and there's no rules or regulations.

LIZ HAYES: Parkour is the stuff that makes for heart-stopping scenes in the latest James Bond movie.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Like you see the gibbon do this. If you can even imagine the feeling of it - how it's just like in the air - it's exactly what I try to reach and try to teach. And like also the cheetah, you know, when you see, like slow motion like in the air, like this.

LIZ HAYES: Sebastien Foucan is the man who helped create parkour, and the villain who gave 007 a run for his money.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Let's say we start together we can only start like this, you know. You know, something like this.

LIZ HAYES: Do, do you want me to go with you, Sebastien?

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: It's all about imagination. You're just here and just find a way.

LIZ HAYES: You know, because normal people would just say, ‘Stairwell, walk up the stairs’.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Yeah, normal people.

LIZ HAYES: Normal people.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Yeah. But when you do free running it's ... you want ... like kids, you're more like kids and you try to, um, to move, to move with your environment. It's like, there is a road here, there is a road here, but you can go here too, you know.

LIZ HAYES: It's all about speed, efficiency, and style. When it's done well, it is spectacular, athletic and elegant. Parkour was born in the ugly back streets of Paris, home to millions of dispossessed migrants and a breeding ground for violence and anger. Bored kids who turned their harsh urban backyard into a gymnasium without rules.

LIZ HAYES: You're a rebel.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: You're right, I'm a little bit rebel. Yeah, because it's like you say, because we had nothing to do, we create something. This is how we happen.

LIZ HAYES: Sebastien Foucan came from these very suburbs, a street kid who now makes a living from it. Parkour has given him fame and fortune. That's Sebastien up there on stage with Madonna. And Sebastien says there's a little parkour in all of us.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: You see, it's very natural.

LIZ HAYES: It starts so early in life, doesn't it?

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Yeah. It starts like this — you just start climbing. It's in our gene, you know, like the origin, everybody can do it. This is how it starts, it's very natural. It's like trekking, or like you're on a mountain …

LIZ HAYES: This man's unstoppable, and it's hard not to get caught up in his passion for it. And you can see why kids all over the world, including Australia, want the dangerous thrill of being chased by James Bond.

MATTHEW: So today we're going through some of the basics of parkour, what it is, and some of the training techniques we use.

LIZ HAYES: This is parkour practice for kids from inner-city Melbourne, and the appeal is instant.

ANTHONY: I just love being able to walk down the street, and just being able to jump over a bench or do a vault over a bench and, you know, no one's going to come up to me and say, ‘What are you doing? Stop doing that’. They just look at you and they think, ‘Oh, that was pretty cool’. A lot of good freedom.

LIZ HAYES: And, even better for these kids, it's a healthy past-time.

PARKOUR ENTHUSIAST: The skills that we've learned, we can definitely use in everyday life. If you're getting chased — at full speed — and you need to jump a block or something, you can — we've learned how to jump that block at full-speed instead of slowing down and stuff like that, so, yeah, it could help you.

LIZ HAYES: What do you mean ‘If you're being chased?’

PARKOUR ENTHUSIAST: Well if you're being chased by a bunch of boys who don't like you, you're not going to hang around and have a chat.

LIZ HAYES: It's not that you're on the run, it's just if you're in a sticky situation, huh?

PARKOUR ENTHUSIAST: Yeah, we're good boys.

LIZ HAYES: One of the features of parkour is getting from 'A' to 'B' efficiently, which means that these guys here reckon that they can beat me to just about any point in the city. Now, we're going to test that theory — we're going to race to Opera House. And I reckon they've got none and Buckley's because I've got the car. Cheeky! And cheating! What's worse? Bugger! Lights. Oh, please, yes. Why don't we just start walking now? Oh, oh, please. Please! Yeah, no problem. Red light. Come on, come on, come on ... Ah, yes! Yes, why not? Yes, of course! Brrrrr! I don't believe it! You cheated! And there you have it - exactly what the French intended when they created this sport.

STEPHANE VIGROUX: Ah, we tried to convince people that we were not doing, ah, anything bad outside. We we're not hurting people or burning cars or destroying architecture. We care about the architecture.

LIZ HAYES: Stephane Vigroux is a parkour professional. And there's no magic to this, is there? No secret? It's hard work.

STEPHANE VIGROUX: No, there's no secret it's all about hard work, like everything in life, that's what I believe.

LIZ HAYES: You don't expect such an extreme 'art' to be found here ... This rather unattractive sculpture outside Paris, the Dame du Lac, is the shrine for all parkour devotees. Have you lost much skin here?

STEPHANE VIGROUX: Yes, and a lot of skin, and a lot of shoes insole as well.

LIZ HAYES: And it's here where Stephane cut his teeth and grazed his knees learning the sport. You don't think I'm too old for parkour?

STEPHANE VIGROUX: No, no, it's just like if today your want to start yoga, or anything, you start at the beginning level, with the basics, but you can still start tennis or ping-pong, there is no age to start.

LIZ HAYES: But a word of warning — parkour isn't as easy as it might seem. It's dangerous?

STEPHANE VIGROUX: Yes, it's dangerous.

LIZ HAYES: For all those kids sitting at home watching you thinking, ‘I'm going to do that’, what would you say to them?

STEPHANE VIGROUX: So, that's cool you want to do that. Now learn. Learn how to do it safely.

LIZ HAYES: The best parkour practitioners are elite athletes, And while all that jumping around looks easy, it takes years to get it right.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Running, jumping, climbing - everything is so natural.

LIZ HAYES: It's almost like a religious experience for you, isn't it?

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Oh yeah. For me it's like I'm addicted.

LIZ HAYES: You are addicted?

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: (Laughs) Let's go!

LIZ HAYES: Addicted and out of control! There's no way you can get Sebastien Foucan to sit still for a second.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: After you think everything else is boring, when you're just like, ah, just walking ...

LIZ HAYES: I know, my life has been changed from this moment on, Sebastien. See, back at the hotel, I'm not going to take the stairs ...


IZ HAYES: ... I'm going to slide down the bannister! Sebastien sees the world a little differently. For me, he's really just a kid with lots of passion and energy to burn. I think you've had too much red cordial.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: What, too much what?

LIZ HAYES: Red cordial. As a child, you've had too much sugar.

SEBASTIEN FOUCAN: Ah, it's true I eat a lot of sugar. Maybe this is a problem. It's like — I have to stop sugar, see?

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