San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Student finds solace in free-running parkour

Student finds solace in free-running parkour




All photos by Paige Nelson, Photo Editor

Imagine racing through a concrete jungle, heart pounding to the beat of every footstep. Sweat drips down the nape of your neck. The wind blows gracefully through your hair and you become one with the elements.

The adrenaline rushes through your body. You don’t know what’s around the next corner, but nothing can stop you from reaching your destination. You rush up a staircase, climbing faster until you come to a balcony. You look around and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere else to go. Without an ounce of fear or a second thought, you go to the edge of the balcony and jump.

This is what life is like for San Diego State art freshman Gabriel Tabaldo. From the description above, one may imagine Tabaldo as a bit of a risk taker. However, he’s actually taking part in a sport called parkour, also known as free running.

Parkour first began in the early 1900s when French naval officer George Herbert traveled to the Caribbean island Martinique. While on the island, Herbert was inspired by how easily the native islanders navigated through their environment. He returned to France, where his teachings became the standard of physical training for the French military. However, modern parkour is credited to David Belle, who combined the basic foundations of parkour with his martial arts and gymnastics.

SDSU students can spot Tabaldo running through campus. When he isn’t tumbling down Campanile Walkway or jumping out of trees, Tabaldo studies multimedia art.

He said, as a child, he loved to run and climb, and felt most at home when he was outdoors.

“I think we all do parkour as kids…I just never stopped.”

Tabaldo started training in parkour two years ago. He watched YouTube videos of parkour enthusiasts, wishing he could copy their movements. Once Tabaldo tried it, he couldn’t stop. Tabaldo said it allowed him to express himself and feel free—he felt unstoppable—as if his movements were infinite.

Although Tabaldo may seem like a superhero effortlessly racing around campus, he said he gets scared, especially when trying new moves.

“The first move I ever tried to conquer was called a speed vault, where you go over an object sideways, sort of parallel to the ground, and the only thing allowed to touch the object is the palm of one of your hands,” Tabaldo said.

He explained that although conquering the move was easy, it was still nerve-wracking not knowing whether he would fall or land it at first.

Tabaldo recently attended a “jam,” an event where parkour athletes gather to practice and learn new moves. San Diego Parkour hosted the event, held at Balboa Park. The jam was the perfect place to try out new moves, challenge other parkour runners and gain more experience. Tabaldo said more than 150 people with varying skill levels attended the jam.

There were only two rules to follow at the jam, Tabaldo said: Stay in your groups and don’t damage anything. Tabaldo said the event was an experience of a lifetime that made him want to pursue parkour further. He said he’s been attending gymnastics classes to enhance his skills.

Tabaldo encourages everyone to try parkour.

“Go out and try it, but be safe and try not to do anything too dangerous,” Tabaldo said.

Tabaldo said parkour is a complicated sport that requies a lot of determination and self-control, but can open a new world for aspiring athletes.

In the future, Tabaldo hopes to make a career doing parkour. Until then, you can catch him free running around campus.

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Student finds solace in free-running parkour