Madison Parkour Highlight

By: Zachary Taylor

 UW-Madison Film Project!

This past weekend, Wisconsin traceurs and traceuses gathered together for the purpose of filming a pair of documentaries – courtesy of two UW-Madison film students. Their goal was to provide an accurate glimpse into our training, for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with parkour, by simply observing a “normal” session. Thankfully, the beautiful weather held up (though it was sketchy at times) and everyone was able to have a blast working together, and towards the common goal of educating the community.
Before long, however, we had a run-in with a member of the campus physical plant. Now, I can only assume that as he was driving by, he noticed us training and thought one of us might get hurt, so he stopped to talk. Most of us weren't quite able to hear the first thing he said, though it was apparently something to the effect of, “You know you might get hurt....” Being slightly sarcastic, one of the Madison-crew responded with, “Well, we're trying, but we haven't seemed to be able to yet.” 
In response, (and being on the look out to avoid a potential lawsuit) this particular gentlemen said he would call the campus police; and unfortunately, by the time one of our group approached him to actually explain our intentions, he had already driven away – cellphone to ear. None of us really knew what was going to happen, but sure enough, within fifteen minutes a campus police officer visited our training grounds.
[Side Note: All of our encounters with Madison police and campus police have been positive, so we assumed that at worst, we would be asked to move on as a technicality.  What actually transpired was beyond anything we could have expected.]
Initially, the encounter appeared to be standard fare; investigation of the “problem” by the officer, and then we would be asked to move on to another spot. Where it began to differ was when the officer asked to “see what we could do” before they left. Eager to please, a number of us demonstrated some of the more flashy maneuvers – which really sparked the officer's curiosity! Then, for the next two and a half hours, the officer asked us questions about who we were, what we were doing, how we got into parkour, and most importantly, told us great cop stories! The entire session was really natural, and the two film students couldn't have been happier, as the police officer's genuine curiosity inspired the exact questions that they felt would connect with their audience.
As all good things must come to an end, so did this impromptu session with the police officer. After exchanging names, business cards, and some other references, we had the privilege of taking a few pictures of our group and the officer. (One of which is shown.) If for nothing else, this provided an excellent lesson on proper etiquette when dealing with the authorities for anyone who hadn't had the opportunity before. It is vital to portray parkour in a positive light, and I feel that as a community in general, we do an excellent job of this. However, we must make sure that we continue to pass on these same ideals to everyone who comes after us; I don't think anyone wants to have the negative “skateboarding  label” attached to our sport.
Over the rest of the weekend, our activities were mainly kept away from the campus – but Madison has no shortage of excellent places to train. Between Library Mall, GEF 3, and the city courthouse, more than enough footage was captured for the documentaries, and we all just had a huge amount of fun! Any time of the year, Madison has people and places ready to train; and if you haven't experienced it before, I highly recommend that you do.
Hotspot of the Month - The GEF 3 Buildings:
Situated on the corner of Webster and King, under the watchful eye of Wisconsin's majestic state capitol building in downtown Madison, the GEF 3 buildings have long been a Madison-area parkour hotspot. In fact, it was there that Alissa Bratz (founder of Madison Parkour, and “Muse_of_Fire” for those of you on the forums) first began her parkour journey, as well as being the first place I trained outdoors with the Madison crew. Needless to say, it epitomizes the term and designation of a “hotspot”.
Like most areas, almost every skill you could think of can be trained at the GEF 3 buildings, though here, you don't have to apply your “creative gene” to see where. Precisions on the spirals, kongs over the tables, rail “qm”, running cat leaps to muscle-ups, wall-runs, and most importantly, flow work, can all be worked to death – without ever getting bored! Other skills can also be trained around the other sides of the buildings, so go look!
As far as security is concerned, it is a government building, so workday training is not recommended, and you will most likely be asked to leave if you attempt it. On the weekends, however, the buildings are empty and you can train to your heart's content! Police officers will often drive by the buildings every thirty-minutes or so as they go about their routes, but we have never been asked to leave, (thanks in part, to Madison Parkour's positive relationship with the mayor and the police force) and we now tend to think that the officers just enjoy watching us do our thing.
GPS Coordinates: N43° 4.51', W089° 22.7962'
Upcoming Events:
Madison: Tuesdays – 6 PM at Monkey Bar Gymnasium. Thursdays – 7 PM at Badger Gymnastics
Waukesha: Sundays – 1 PM at Waukesha YMCA. Saturday April 10th at Salto Gymnastics.
If you have any information about other area training sessions, please email them to and I'll see that they are included.
If you would like to see your community highlighted, please send your ideas to!

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Written by Janine   
Friday, 02 April 2010 19:00
Last Updated on Saturday, 03 April 2010 09:18