The Parachute Regiment’s Private Alister Craig meets three pro Parkour athletes to see if his Army skills translate to the urban movement.
“It was absolutely fantastic to come to London’s South Bank and have a go at Parkour, something I’ve never tried before.” Says Alister. “The guys showed me how to do some moves like vaulting over walls, a jump and grab up tall walls, and jumping from one wall to another, and then I’d have a go.
“We then put into practice everything I’d learnt over the day doing a Parkour line – I approached a wall, got up, jumped over different obstacles then ran across to vault over a wall, and finally a dive on to the grass. It was really cool to put together all of the things we’d done into a sequence.
“I think you’ve got to be pretty fit to do Parkour, it’s hard to manoeuvre your body over hard obstacles that are much bigger than you. But we do a lot of fitness in the Army, like cycling, swimming and running, which keeps me fit, so I didn’t find today too physically challenging. It’s more the mental side you have to overcome, jumping over a large gap, for example. But jumping out of planes has given me the confidence to overcome challenges like this.
“I’ve learnt a lot of other new skills since joining the Army a few years ago. I trained at Army Foundation College Harrogate for a year, and as part of this you get to take up two sporting skills – I did running and scuba diving, which I got my diving qualification for.
“Then I went on to join the Paras, one of the toughest regiments there is. A lot of the moves I learnt from Max and the other guys weren’t that far off some of the things I’ve done in training. The roll I did on the grass at the end of the sequence, for example, is something we do in the Army. Jumping up on to high vaults is another.
“I really enjoyed learning some different skills from the guys. I’d like to carry on practising Parkour in my own time and hopefully bring it back to the battalion.”
Private Alister Craig
Location: All over
Occupation: Soldier in 2 PARA
Experience: 3 years
Experience: 7 years
Inspiration: I watched loads of YouTube videos as a kid and came across Parkour and thought it was so cool. I already did breakdancing so was into urban movement and it just sparked it off.
Biggest achievement: With Motus we did a USA tour last year, from Boston to Vancouver; that was probably the best time in my life.
Favourite city for Parkour: Seattle – they have Freeway Park that has random concrete blocks scattered around; it’s like it’s built for Parkour.
Experience: 6 years
Inspiration: I started as a kid in the playground, vaulting over some walls, and watched some videos online of pro athletes doing it and thought it was really cool and wanted to do it myself.
Biggest achievement: The Imax in London. I did a move that nobody else had done before called a Double Kong.
Favourite city for Parkour: London, all the buildings are so close together and the architecture here is perfect. So many people train here in England so there’s a strong community.
Experience: 6 years
Inspiration: I did a bit of gymnastics when I was younger, and then a friend invited me along to a Parkour class in my hometown and I absolutely loved it.
Biggest achievement: I’m quite well known for doing flip precisions, which is doing a flip from one wall to another. A year ago I did it to a rail, which was scary. I had to bump up the precision.
Favourite city for Parkour: I get to travel a lot doing something I love. London is great for Parkour, as are Vancouver and Copenhagen.
PHOTOS: SCOTT BASS