Women’s Day Jam, traceuses for the win!

yesterday, 9 August, was women’s day in south africa. in a not-so-completely-unrelated event, the parkour girls of johannesburg got together to start a group on facebook. hopefully this will mark the beginning of a new future for traceuses in-country. all are welcome to join (even traceurs) and we hope that this will serve as a resource for knowledge, support, links, pictures, jam dates, and training sessions, both in johannesburg and throughout the country.

i hope this group will be a solid contribution towards the growth and development of the whole pk-fr community in south africa, but i’m skeptical about creating terms like ‘girl parkour’. boys don’t do ‘boy parkour’. girls do parkour just like everyone else, the only difference is that we’re called traceuses. i think that dividing the sexes, even if it’s only a word tagged onto ‘parkour’ (or anything else for that matter), creates  a mental manifestation and division in the heads of all practitioners.

let me use an example from yoga (of course). we don’t have ‘boy yoga’ and ‘girl yoga’; everyone takes the same yoga class and does the same yoga postures. sometimes men struggle with the flexibility aspects of the practice and women battle with the strength aspects. sometimes it’s the other way around. in the end, it’s OK because yoga works mentally, energetically, and physically and everyone walks out of the room feeling fabulous (kind of like a good parkour session)! as a yoga teacher, i don’t teach men and women differently- they all have to do the same warm-up, posture sequence, and cool-down regardless of their ability. and i work with a student’s inflexibility or lack of strength the same way regardless of gender. in the end, it’s not about the asana (or the trick), it’s about what yoga is doing to your energy and your mind. i think this is something we’re forgetting about parkour.

originally, in india, yoga was only taught to men, only recently has it become dominated (at least in the west) by women. yes, women are practicing an art originally invented by men, for men and kicking ass at it! yoga is also a great example because we can imagine what it might be like for a guy to walk into a room full of women showing off their… assets and… flexibility… and stuff. it’s that same feeling we’ve had when arriving before a jam session and the guys are already tricking.

women do have a steeper ability curve when beginning parkour. (that’s after a lot of them have gotten over the obstacle of precisioning into a male-dominated activity.) there are specific areas where, initially, the physical female body is at a disadvantage with regards to the demands of the discipline. but i think, as pictures, and video, and even real-live women prove, no parkour element is outside of the range of ability for women. what it gets down to is the mental discipline to condition the body to do what is asked of it. and i think we’ve all evolved beyond the need to argue that women and men are equal in terms of mental capacity?

how many times have you heard that parkour is actually a mental challenge? that it demands that you think differently about your environment and how you fit into it? that a fear of heights, or a fear of falling is what needs to be overcome, not the trick itself. so why are we so focused on physical ability? (don’t worry this happens in yoga classes all the time.) physical ability is just another obstacle to overcome. so i’m going to be training with the guys (and girls) because i know it’s just a matter of time (discipline) before my body is allowed to go where my mind already is.

‘do your practice and all is coming.’sri k pattabhi jois


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