Text and Photos by Stefanus Ian, Video by Andre He
With cameras focused on him, Eric Moor took a deep breath and took off.
In one fluid motion, he hurdled over a couple of low walls, before making a powerful leap. His fellow parkour practitioners looked on slack-jawed as Moor landed perfectly on the narrow top edge — no wider than the sole of his shoe — of one of the red-brick walls at the “Bedok Maze”.
The 19-year-old student was in town to attend Singapore’s largest parkour event, the Lion City Gathering (LCG), held over the weekend (29-31 January).
Organisers said the second edition of the gathering was expected to attract close to 200 people over three days of parkour sessions, or jams, as they call it.
Eric Moor in the middle of a run on Friday (29 Jan) at the “Bedok Maze” during the Lion City Gathering.
“I heard about the event from last year, I saw the videos… It’s really cool, you don’t realise when you’re from the western areas how good the sport might be in the eastern areas,” said Moor, who has also travelled across Europe to participate in parkour jams.
He forked out about £800 (S$1,600) to fly here from the United Kingdom.
With participants coming from as far as the UK, Germany and the United States, the LCG has helped to put Singapore on the map within the global parkour community.
For Indonesian Yosua Setiawan, 28, the event was a chance to meet up with practitioners from around the region. He started saving up to attend the LCG, his first overseas trip, after hearing about it last February.
“The news (about this year’s LCG) was spread through social media and after getting the information about the event, my heart was moved to go for the event,” said the retail assistant from Surabaya.
“Of course I had to save up and apply to make my passport and all that. There were a lot of obstacles, but they didn’t deter me from coming to this event,” he added.
Koh Chen Pin, one of the main organisers of the Lion City Gathering, briefing the participants at Bedok on Friday (29 Jan).
Singapore’s densely packed buildings and architecture makes it very conducive for parkour jams, many practitioners said.
Fagan Cheong, the head parkour coach at Art Du Deplacement Academy in Singapore, said the local landscape is well known overseas.
“There are a lot of people who travel to Singapore for the spots. We have a few hotspots like Bishan and another hotspot in Bedok… it’s easily accessible,” said the 29-year-old.
“Compared to other countries, which I have been to in Europe, if you want to really train, you have to travel maybe one hour to go to a spot to train,” added Cheong.
“We are quite lucky in Singapore. Everywhere you go there is almost (always) something you can do.”
One of the most iconic jamming places here is located at Bedok South Road, between Block 41 and Block 42, where LCG held their first session last Friday. The network of red low-lying walls and steps has been christened the “Bedok Maze” by the local parkour community.
The best and worst place
But in spite of the great parkour spots around Singapore and the growing popularity of the sport, it has not been smooth-sailing for the organisers. The LCG was unable to get a permit from the authorities, and they had to change locations after the police were called in by residents midway through their jamming session on Friday.
A police spokesperson told Yahoo Singapore that upon arrival, the police engaged the parkour group who complied and left the premises.
The rest of the weekend jam went as scheduled at other locations, and several participants said via the event’s Facebook page that they enjoyed themselves.
“Singapore is the best place to hold it yet, the worst place to hold it,” Koh Chen Pin, one of the main organisers of the LCG, told Yahoo Singapore.
“The good thing about Singapore is good spots, good culture, good community but it’s not accepting enough… it’s such a pity,” added the 22-year-old, who is waiting to enter university.
Koh said he began sending emails last August to the various town councils to get approval to use the venues, but to no avail. Although he failed to obtain the necessary permits, Koh decided to go ahead with the event, preparing a list of backup locations to fall back on.
“People had already booked their tickets and if I don’t try, it’s a waste,” he said. “I had to try even though I didn’t get the permit.”
Parkour participants of the Lion City Gathering going through the “Bedok Maze” on Friday (29 Jan) as a local resident watches on.
Law Teck Chong, who lives directly beside the “Bedok Maze”, said he does not see the parkour groups as a big concern for the residents in Bedok.
“There are no noise concerns,” said Law, who regularly sees parkour groups practicing below his HDB block.
Law said the numbers have dwindled recently, but he was impressed by Friday’s turnout. “I think that’s also why the police came, (the numbers were) too big,” said the 45-year-old.
“I think they are quite okay. It’s other people who stay late at night, those are the noisy ones, not this group,” he added.
“As long as they know how to take care of themselves, it’s okay. There’s no big alarm for us.”