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For these students, campus is an obstacle course

 by Kristi Eaton
 published on Friday, April 13, 2007

RUNNING START:  Psychology sophomore Rob Gifford hops a wall on the Tempe Campus Thursday. Gifford is an active parkour practitioner./issues/news/700803
Andrea Bloom / THE STATE PRESS
RUNNING START: Psychology sophomore Rob Gifford hops a wall on the Tempe Campus Thursday. Gifford is an active parkour practitioner.
 
/issues/news/700803
Andrea Bloom / THE STATE PRESS
 

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The next time you see psychology sophomore Rob Gifford on campus, he might be running up a wall.

He's practicing parkour - the art of moving through the environment using only one's body and surrounding architecture as a propeller.

The campus is the perfect place to practice, he said.

"ASU has the most ledges," he said. "It's full of things you can do."

Parkour is going from point A to point B using the most effective movements with the least amount of momentum and can include running, jumping, climbing and crawling, said Mark Toorock of American Parkour.

Gifford said he enjoys using the Schwada building for cat leaps - a jump to near vertical where the feet absorb the impact before the hands catch the top.

Near the Coor building is also a good place to practice parkour moves, he said.

He jumps from one cement pillar to another to practice his precision leaping, he added.

It is not against University policy to practice parkour on campus, said ASU spokeswoman Leah Hardesty.

The only time a person could get in trouble would be if they jumped on top of a building because it is considered trespassing, she added.

Gifford said he has only been reprimanded once while doing parkour on campus.

"I was doing it by the chemistry building and didn't see the biohazard sign," he said.

Like Gifford, mechanical engineering sophomore John Martell became interested in parkour after watching the film "Jump Britain."

"I was like, 'oh that's really cool,'" Martell said of watching the film.

Martell said he likes running up walls or stairs.

"I get stared at all the time," he said. "People are like, 'what are you doing?"

Toorock said parkour is very natural.

"Human beings were born to run, jump, play, climb, crawl...be active," he said.

Safety is important, Toorock said.

"Most the stuff people should practice is ground level stuff," he said. "Start slow."

Gifford injured himself during winter break.

He fell down a rock wall and busted his shins, he said.

"I don't go alone now," he said.

Reach the reporter at: kristi.eaton@asu.edu.



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