K-SWISS SENT US AN INFO PACK ON THE ARIAKE, A NEW MODEL WHICH HAS BEEN GENETICALLY ENHANCED FOR THE URBAN ART OF PARKOUR, A CLOSE RELATIVE TO FREE RUNNING. THE SPORT HAS HAD ITS SHARE OF MEDIA HYPE OVER THE YEARS AND HAS MADE SOMEWHAT OF A COMEBACK RECENTLY, STARRING IN A STACK OF MUSIC VIDS AND BLOCKBUSTER FILMS. BUT WHAT WE WANTED TO KNOW WAS IF THE SHOE WAS ANY GOOD SO WE TRACKED DOWN ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S LEADING EXPONENTS, MR JOHN BOURNE, TO DRILL HIM ON MADONNA, ANGRY CHICKENS, WANG CHUNG (SIC), THE YAMIKASE AND CLIMBING ON WALLS AFTER YOU’VE LEFT THE PUB. IF JOHN SAYS IT’S THE BEST SHOE IN THE GAME, WE BELIEVE HIM! CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE - THIS MIGHT BE THE BEST K-SWISS MODEL WE’VE SEEN YET.
Hey John, what’s your background in ths sport?
I started martial arts when I was about twelve, did Taekwondo, then Kung Fu, Wing Chun, Capoeira and rock climbing as well. In about 2001, I saw some footage on the TV about a group called the Yamikase who are a parkour group in France and I basically went ‘yep that’s exactly what I’ve been doing!’ So all up I’ve been training for about three or four years now.
Is that around the time of the angry chicken?
Yeah, it’s funny how with a marginal sport, these things have little popularity bursts.
For my own benefit, can you explain the difference between parkour and free running?
It’s a hot debate so I probably wont get it perfectly right myself but parkour is more about getting from A to B quickly, in the sense that you are being chased or you are hunting someone. Free running has most of the moves from parkour but there’s also a lot more aesthetics like flips and so on. They will run the same route through an environment but it’s more about self-expression. So parkour tends to be a little bit on the pure side of things. They both stem from what’s known as the Natural Method which was developed in France by a guy called George Hébert.
Considering how pure it is, does it shit you to see Madonna on video hits with some tit jumping around doing parkour dressed like a crazy ninja?
I found it with Capoeira as well and especially for parkour this year when Casino Royale was released. With this sort of thing you do get a large influx of people – you can tell straight away the ones who just wanna do it for the aesthetics and to look cool... they don’t stick with it. But at the end of the day, you end up with a group that’s slightly larger than what you started with, which is a good thing.
I don’t wanna sound like your mum but is it dangerous?
It can be, especially when you train on concrete. You gotta know your stuff and a lot of kids think that parkour is just about jumping from one building to the next. When I started back in 2003 there wasn’t very many people to learn from in Australia. I had a knee reconstruction because I trained too much and didn’t let my body recover, so that’s what I’m trying to preach to the younger guys.
Is a part of that training process , choosing a pair of shoes that are suitable?
Obviously you don’t want shoes that are too big or too heavy but I supplement my training with barefoot training as well. Obviously you can’t jump as high, you can’t do certain things, but it strengthens the muscles in your feet. Having said that, the K-Swiss Ariake shoe that’s come out has taken a big step forward in terms of development of a shoe that’s strong and allows you to jump a little higher and grip better.
Did you have any role in the development?
No role at all! But from what I understand, they were talking to some of the French traceurs and it really showed at the end of the day – it’s a really good shoe. I’ve used quite a lot of shoes in the past, adidas had a prototype traceur shoe but it never hit the market and that was probably over two years ago. They were pretty ugly! But I’ve been using the Ariake since March and I haven’t had any problems. Some of the guys have said the sole is thin but I actually think that’s a good thing because you get better sensitivity and it will stop people from doing jumps that they’re not ready for as well. I’m really happy with the shoe.
What features make or break a parkour shoe?
Grip is the primary concern. The fact that the top of the shoe is artificial leather makes it hard wearing. There doesn’t seem to a be a lot of stitching around the shoe itself so that keeps the integrity of the shoe intact, and the gusseted pocket where your foot goes in helps centre the shoe around your foot. The laces tuck in completely out of the way as well. I can’t say enough about the grip. It’s been really, really good. To run on it is quite good as well.
What’s the size of the market in Australia?
There would probably be at least 2-3000 guys who do parkour or free running. K-Swiss will be surprised, I think a lot of climbers will be interested in the shoe. I have no problem going to a club wearing the Ariake and if there is one thing that climbers do when they are in a group and they’re pissed, you know they’re gonna climb on something, no matter what they’re wearing, it’s hilarious. I actually came out of a nightclub recently and saw a nice sandstone wall and next thing you know I was climbing on it.
This isn’t how you did your knee was it?
No! I did my knee from over-training. No alcohol involved.
it must be quite a nice physical feeling to know you can jump over a bin or climb up a wall real quick...
Yeah, that’s the thing, you can train in one area for a couple of months and then go back with more skill and you’ll read the architecture in a different way. Even if I’m wearing thongs I’ll walk past something good and I’ll be like, ‘damn’ but obviously if I’m wearing the K-Swiss shoes, you know I can get up there. They are a comfortable shoe, they are really really good and K-Swiss aren’t paying me to say that but I wish they would, hahaha! They’re really light too, in my size they are about 165gm each, heavy shoes feel stronger but light shoes make you feel more springy.
Is there an aussie website for more info?
There are basically two, you’ve got the Australian Parkour Association and Parkour Australia – it’s a large community with a lot of conversation taking place. Because at the end of the day, all these styles are movement based, we’re not using any equipment, we’re just using our bodies. It’s good stuff.
i’m too old for this kind of thing.
Man, I turned 30 this year and it’s been getting hard to get out of bed everyday. I think I have another 10 years in me. I hope I don’t hurt myself, that’s for sure!