Stunts, Parkour, Action!

Updated: 2015-04-24 11:25

By Matt Hodges in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Stunts, Parkour, Action!

For stuntmen like Shanghai-based entrepreneur Kyle Shapiro, parkour has become an essential part of their toolkit. Photos Provided by Dimitri Daniloff to China Daily

Canada's Kyle Shapiro is helping city slickers unleash their inner ninja warrior while conquering their inner demons as parkour comes to town

Kyle Shapiro has ticked a few boxes since moving to Shanghai five years ago: He has started his own business (tick), worked on a major blockbuster with Jackie Chan (tick), done a TV ad for Sony (tick) and set up the city's only Ninja Warrior program (tick).

He specializes in parkour, a hyper-kinetic art that involves navigating street-side architecture in a daredevil fashion using only your body parts.

"It is about calculated risks," said the 27-year-old. "I'm not saying I wouldn't jump off a bridge or out of an airplane, just for the thrill of it, but that wouldn't be parkour."

He launched Somartics Movement Group as a full-time business in 2013. Like his business partner Martino Chen, whose chiseled physique could easily grace the cover of Men's Fitness, he is deeply plugged in to Shanghai's burgeoning parkour scene.

LINK Parkour is one of the company's three divisions. The others are KungFu Wires, which focuses on wire-flying stunts for movies and live-event performances, and an under-development dance division, which also teaches tricking (all those cool flips and rotational twists), gymnastics, movement development and stunts.

District 13 (2004) star David Belle founded the physical art in the Parisian suburb of Lisses in 1990. He also co-authored Parkour: From the Origins to the Practice last year, when the edgy discipline began shifting from the streets to indoor gyms across the US.

"Ego is the enemy of parkour," he said in a French-language interview last year. "It is wellbeing. And when you feel well, you want everyone around you to feel well, too."

Like his father, Belle was inspired by the military-style obstacle course training that was popular among firefighters in France in the late 1980s. The French military had another name for it, parcours du combattant, from whence the name parkour derives.

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