Jamzac, the first national parkour and freerunning competition in New Zealand, took place in April.
Organised by Honest Parkour and hosted by Flow Academy of Motion in Auckland, the Jamzac competition consisted of practitioners of parkour competing in three formats: speed, skill and style. The event also encompassed the annual Anzac Weekend gathering of practitioners in Auckland in which participants came together to “jam” parkour in a non-structured format – hence how the event came to be titled “Jamzac”.
Taylor Ward, who recently picked up an endorsement from UK based Logan Garments, described the event as “friendly with everyone cheering everyone on, despite competing against each other. Even though there are people who don’t agree with parkour competitions, Jamzac was a great gathering of the parkour community with a very fun vibe.”
Interview with Matt Devries
Matt Devries, representing Team Aura, won both the speed and style formats at Jamzac 2017. We caught up with him after the event to hear his thoughts.
Video of Matt’s semi-final and final runs runs in the skill competition can be seen below.
ORNZ: Congratulations on your finish at Jamzac, how did you find the Jamzac experience?
Matt: Considering Jamzac was the first New Zealand parkour competition I think it ran immensely well. Maika did an absolute awesome job at organising the event. For me personally I have competed in gymnastics competitions many times before, but the atmosphere at Jamzac was so much more positive and less serious. All round I think everyone really enjoyed themselves.
ORNZ: What inspires you to do parkour?
Matt: Staying fit, being strong to be useful, improving myself and, the biggest one, overcoming mental challenges of breaking through the invisible barrier that’s always there telling you not to do something because there’s an element of fear or danger.
ORNZ: While obstacle racing and parkour have similarities in that they both involve overcoming obstacles using primarily the human body, parkour competitions could be said to be more about perfection of technique (where a slight slip-up in movement could cost you a couple of seconds in the speed competition or valuable points in skill or style competitions which can mean the difference of placing or not) while obstacle races are often more about endurance and grit. How did you prepare for such a demanding competition?
Matt: To be honest I didn’t prepare for the competition prior to it in any shape or form outside my usual training. I was also training very lightly up until the competition because I had knee and foot injuries. I agree with your statement about obstacle races being more about endurance and grit and being able to keep going for longer at a more steady pace, whereas at speed competitions like Jamzac you need to get everything right, all in one run, with every foot and hand placement, every vault, every climb, every swing, and so on being as fast and as efficient as possible in order to place.
ORNZ: What does a typical week of practice look like for you?
Matt: I teach classes at Flow Academy of Motion four times a week, which isn’t specifically “practice” because I’m focused on improving my student’s skills rather than my own in these time slots, but I do technically get to “train” during these times. During these I’m running around, jumping climbing and demonstrating techniques for up to 8 hours in a day. So this keeps me super fit and healthy. I then try to train at least once a week outside of these times, but the current work I’ve been doing outside of working at Flow has been limiting the training time I have to do.
Perhaps of most interest to OCR fans, the speed competition is a sprint-based obstacle race where, in what was sure to be a spectacular finish, less than one second separated first place from second!
In the speed competition athletes traverse a series of pre-determined courses to prove who amongst them is the fastest.
Perhaps arguably stealing the show at any parkour competition is the display of style. In the style competition athletes have up to 1 minute and 30 seconds to make their way through a course, performing tricks and stunts in order to overcome their own mental barriers and amaze their audience. Runs are judged on flow, difficulty, execution and overall impression.
In the skill competition athletes have a limited number of attempts to perform several pre-determined parkour-based movements. Achieving each movement with precision within a single attempt is rewarded with maximum points, with each attempt after dropping in points.