Stunts, Parkour, Action!

Updated: 2015-04-24 11:25

By Matt Hodges in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Stunts, Parkour, Action!

Shapiro (center) is directed by a Chinese stunt coordinator on the set of Jackie Chan's Dragon Blade last fall.

The Dam du Lac (Lady of the Lake) in Lisses is the Mecca of parkour. Most practitioners hope to make a pilgrimage there at some point in their lives. Chen did it last year with some other team members. They now speak in glowing terms of this manmade "Great Wall" nestled amid a picturesque French lake.

Amid an ever-evolving movement, Belle confirmed his status as a parkour purist during an interview with English freerunner Timothy Shieff last year.

He said the "sport" has two sides: The acrobatic tricks and clowning around part, which he compared to fixed routines, or kata, in martial arts; and the physical conditioning and navigating obstacles with maximum efficiency part - the sparring or fighting, which he prefers.

"Will I do competitions? No," he said. "But I never wanted the status of a boss who says, 'You must do this, you must do that."

"I just took a step back to see how parkour was evolving," he added, explaining his long sabbatical. "And now I'm back, because I've noticed some things that could be improved."

Given his enthusiasm for all things parkour, Shapiro said he enjoys the corporate gigs in Shanghai just as much as performing stunts for Chinawood.

His team promoted BMW's Mini Cooper at the "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium in Beijing in 2012 and helped launch Mercedes-Benz new S-class in Shanghai in 2013. Recently, they shot a TV commercial for Sony's Alpha digital cameras.

For the Mercedes gig, wire partner David Wei from Shandong province had to rig up hundreds of meters of wire.

"He's a technical genius. His wushu and stunts background is invaluable," said Shapiro. "I learned everything through my experiences doing stunts in Canada and my time here in China."

Students will find his programs rigorous but not cheap - outdoor classes are about $15 each or $130 for 10. Indoor classes cost roughly twice this.

"One of our main challenges now is regulating the market," said Chen. "The most important thing for us is to maintain a good image for parkour and its ability to deliver professional content and physical education."

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