THE WFPF IDEA – OCTOBER 2007
In October 2007, as the first Red Bull Art Of Motion was drawing to a close, and first world champion Ryan Doyle was lying in a hospital bed in Vienna with a shattered leg, the WFPF was born. For the previous year and a half, the yet to be named organization had been the brainchild of three American guys, Victor Bevine and David Thompson, who between them had spent over twenty years working with at-risk inner-city youth, and Francis Lyons, six-time Emmy Award-winning producer of MTV’s hit show MADE, which for years had been making the most unlikely kids’ dreams come true. The three men experienced quite a learning curve as they worked to understand the true nature of Parkour beyond the thrills and spills, to get some kind of concept of this phenomenon that had totally captured their imaginations.
In the end, though, it was the hard-won trust and commitment of the founding athletes, Ryan Doyle, Daniel Ilabaca, Tim “Livewire” Shieff, Pip Andersen, Phil Doyle and Ben Jenkin from the U.K., Daniel Arroyo, Michael Turner and King David from the U.S., Oleg Vorslav, the “Russian Climber”, from Latvia, that made the WFPF possible. These young men, all of them extraordinary athletes and amazing human beings, came together around the idea that they could more effectively and positively influence the direction of Parkour’s growth from “the inside”, rather than remaining underground and opposed to all commercial development. For their part, Bevine, Thompson, and Lyons listened attentively to the athletes, as well as countless freerunners from around the world, with the goal of doing something that had not been done before; looking beyond the conflicts in the community to identify shared values and support the growth of the Parkour movement worldwide.
The years following were filled with countless late-night phone calls, many trips across the Atlantic and the U.S., plans made and principles defended, minor disagreements and not a few major disappointments.
MTV’s “ULTIMATE PARKOUR CHALLENGE”
In February 2009, after months of creative negotiations, MTV gave WFPF the go-ahead for a one-hour special to introduce Parkour to the mainstream American audience. We were as worried as we were excited. Would MTV get it? Okay, it was a competition, and we knew there were a lot of people who would hate it on principal, no matter what. But what kind of a competition would it be? Would they try to turn it into AMERICAN GLADIATOR or would it be more like NINJA WARRIOR? Would the message of Parkour have a chance in the middle of all the hype? Under intense pressure, we stood firm in our commitment to represent Parkour authentically and responsibly. Eight freerunners were chosen to appear in the pilot, Ryan Doyle, Daniel Ilabaca, Michael Turner, King David, Tim “Livewire” Shieff, Brian Orosco, Daniel Arroyo, and Pip Andersen. Tensions were running high, but glorious “yes” triumphed over faithless “no”, and the guys boarded planes with nothing to lean on but their favorite Parkour shoes and a whole lot of trust. And MTV got it. Yes, you heard right. Not the first day, maybe, or the second, but as the week went by, and the athletes practiced Parkour just like they always do, everyone was watching everyone else riding a giant learning curve. And everyone was excited that they were involved in something totally new, something that might just make a difference. And audiences liked it too! We got emails from people all over the world, some who’d been sending us hate mail before the show premiered, telling us how we’d gotten it right. On the strength of that response, MTV gave the green light for a six episode summer series in 2010, adding Ben Jenkin and Oleg Vorlav to the line-up of athletes.
The KO Parkour Shoe, AOM and MTV’s “Made”
The show was an awesome, though not always a smooth experience. In the meantime, WFPF began working on other initiatives, first of which was providing freerunners with a good inexpensive Parkour shoe designed by and for the athletes themselves. And thus, the KO was born! Next, when Red Bull came to the U.S. to expand their Art of Motion franchise, WFPF partnered with them for the Tampa, Boston and Detroit AOM’s, introducing such innovations as community jams on the course and a Wildcard Round to give a chance to unknown up and coming freerunners. Always looking for new ways to expand awareness, WFPF once again partnered with MTV, showcasing the Detroit Art of Motion on co-founder Lyons’ hit series, MADE with WFPF elite athlete Daniel Arroyo as the “Made” coach.
Since our earliest days, WFPF has been dedicated to our mission, summed up in our motto, Know Obstacles! Know Freedom! Now an internationally recognized organization, with athletes and affiliates in over 65 countries and each of the 50 U.S. states, WFPF holds true to its goal of bringing the discipline and philosophy of parkour/freerunning to mainstream audiences everywhere.
WFPF Parkour Instructor Certification
In February 2012, after an 18-month development process, WFPF launched its Teacher Training Certification Program to help establish safe practices for the teaching of parkour/freerunning, bringing those programs into compliance with insurance industry standards. Developed in cooperation with six of WFPF’s elite athletes, it is the only parkour/freerunning certification backed by an insurance underwriter. As of this writing, WFPF has completed over thirty Level 1/ Level 2 certifications in the United States and two in Canada and have certified over 500 instructors to date. WFPF recently launched its Level 3 teacher certification and has certified 35 instructors at this level.
WFPF Sanctioned Competitions
Following our partnership on the three US Art of Motions, WFPF was approached to sanction home grown competitions in Florida, Connecticut, Colorado, and California, and is now being recognized as an official sanctioning body for competitions large and small, internationally and in the United States. WFPF provides standardized game-play, judges, judging criteria, safety and course guidelines, mentoring, marketing and social media, and in some cases liability insurance. WFPF and KO also provide prize packages including KO shoes and apparel, WFPF team gear, and scholarships for WFPF instructor certifications. For help with your event, check out the Events button on the tool bar.
In September 2015, WFPF, along with USAParkour.org (see below) and USAP College, sanctioned the first intercollegiate parkour competition and festival at University of Wisconsin, Platteville with thirty athletes in attendance from nine different American colleges and universities.
WFPF Parkour Pro-Am 2016 at the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas
In early April 2016, in partnership with the All-Star Games, WFPF brought 25 of the world’s top parkour athletes, male and female, to Las Vegas to compete against 50 challengers in front of 5000 spectators in a groundbreaking event. With athletes from as far away as the U.K., Japan and Russia, plans are already in the works for an even bigger event in 2017.
USA Parkour and USA Parkour Member Insurance
In 2011, WFPF helped launch USA Parkour (www.USAParkour.org) in response to the demand for a comprehensive insurance program for the teaching of Parkour in “Parkour specific” and multi-use gymnastic facilities. As of July 2016, USA Parkour has extended insurance coverage under the USAP master policy (as well as safety guidelines and other member benefits) to 70 gyms and University programs in 30 states.
IPF- International Parkour Federation (non-profit)
In 2013, WFPF founders created the International Parkour Federation (IPF), a non-profit to advance the philosophy and goals of parkour worldwide. IPF has been recognized by WADA and has an application pending with Sport Accord, the international federation of governing bodies. In 2014, IPF partnered with local athletes to help raise money and awareness to start a parkour school in Baghdad, Iraq, giving Iraqi parkour athletes a safe place to train. In 2016, along with local partners, IPF was instrumental in the creation of the Asia Freerunning Parkour Union, headquartered in Antalya, Turkey with the goal of advancing the sport of parkour across the continent of Asia. In partnership with WFPF, IPF now has competitions in development with organizations on four continents.
“Lady WFPF” Parkour
In addition to sponsoring many of the world’s top female athletes, in 2013 WFPF officially launched “Lady WFPF Parkour” in response to repeated requests by women who thought that WFPF could help address their specific training needs and concerns. It is run by women for women with the consultation and guidance of WFPF. To find out more about “Lady WFPF Parkour” go to the tool bar and click on the link.
American Eagle Outfitters Campaign, Funny or Die & other Media
WFPF continues to be a principal player in the international parkour media world, partnering with global brands to continue to bring the spirit and artistry of parkour to the mainstream, while also providing high profile employment opportunities for our athletes. In 2015, American Eagle Outfitters approached WFPF to produce an international online and in-store campaign to launch their new line of “Flex Denim” jeans. The resulting video and print campaign appeared in 1800 stores worldwide as well as on Jumbo-trons and billboards from New York City’s Times Square to the Los Angeles Sunset Strip. Phase two of the AEO/WFPF campaign was a hilarious spoof of the Flex Denim commercial made in partnership with “Funny or Die”, featuring great parkour as well as great comedy by actor Jake Johnson. Check out our media page to see a list of the many other brands that we have worked with.
With a current roster of over 50 elite and sponsored athletes and more than 2000 affiliates and affiliate teams in over 65 countries across the globe, the best is yet to come! The year 2017 promises to be the biggest year yet for WFPF, IPF and USA Parkour, with major new initiatives set to launch early in the new year, all in keeping with WFPF’s commitment to listening and responding to the developing needs of the global parkour community. WFPF and its sister companies welcomes you to the family. Thank you for being a crucial part of the process!