IPF – International Parkour Federation
In 2014, at the urging of our longtime mentor Mike Jacki, (former head of business development for Camp Woodward, former head of USA Skiing, former head of USA Gymnastics and a HUGE early supporter of Parkour), we filed non-profit incorporation papers in Indiana (later moved to New Jersey) for the International Parkour Federation. Mike warned us (prophetically as it turns out) that if we did not, the Federation International Gymnastique (FIG) would eventually make a play to appropriate Parkour, as they had with so many other disciplines. We then proceeded to have IPF’s by-laws and statutes written in accordance with IOC standards, and applied to Sport Accord for recognition. Sport Accord/GAISF is the World Federation of Governing Bodies, and recognition by them is often considered to be the first step toward IOC recognition and offers definitive protection against appropriation by other sports. We knew that we did not yet have the required 40 recognized national governing bodies onboard to fully qualify, but neither did anyone else, and we learned that as long as we had a solid application pending, no one else could successfully file, and we could at least deter or delay a FIG takeover until parkour was more fully organized as a community
That was when we first attracted the attention of Mark Cooper (aka Mark Dolley), the mastermind behind the current FIG scheme. In a series of email and phone calls and one meeting (with Mike Jacki), Cooper insisted that we withdraw our Sport Accord application, and fold our organization into the newly created “Le Mouvement”, claiming that David Belle owned all rights to the word Parkour and that we would face legal action if we persisted in going our own way. We refused.
In 2015, we were contacted by Eugene Minogue of Parkour UK. WFPF Co-Founder Victor Bevine had been introduced to Eugene by Tim Shieff the previous year, and the two had a number of cordial talks about the urgent need for the World community to come together to stop Mark Cooper and Le Mouvement from taking over Parkour. Eugene then connected Bevine with Dan Edwards of Parkour Generations, whose organization FIADD also aspired to the role of World Federation for parkour, though with a strictly non-competitive philosophy. The two had a friendly and constructive 90 minute meeting in Austin, TX in April 2015, which was to be followed by another meeting in France not long after. The only pre-condition set by Bevine for the next meeting was a requirement that both groups come together in the spirit of mutual respect and acknowledgment for the contributions each had made to the sport over the years.
Bevine reached out numerous times following that Austin meeting, but his emails were never returned. Sadly, that second meeting never occurred, and everyone went back to their own business, with Mark Cooper returning to his, aligning himself and Le Mouvement with FIG.
Meanwhile, we began putting IPF to use as a de-facto world governing body, sanctioning competitions large and small around the world and running our charitable and community mentoring initiatives through that entity, including our successful efforts to help build a Parkour school in Iraq, to support the parkour communities of Kosovo, Tajikistan and Iran to achieve national recognition for parkour, helping in the creation of the Asia Freerunning Parkour Union, partnering with Athletes for Hope and PK Move (parkour training for seniors) and helping athletes from Russia, South Africa, the UK and the Middle East get work visas for the US–ALL of which fall well within the traditional activities of a governing body.
Jump to 2017, and FIG’s first press release on February 24th announcing their intention to appropriate parkour. That same day, IPF sent a letter expressing our strong objections to their plan. We received a reply dismissive of our concerns, stating that they had chosen to go back to the “roots” of parkour, by which we knew they meant Mark Cooper and his partnership with David Belle and Charles Perriere.
Following the breakdown of the FIG-Apex alliance and the outcry from parkour communities around the world, FIG reached out to IPF with an urgent invitation to a meeting in Lausanne at the end of May. IPF declined to attend. However, since IPF had already agreed to attend a meeting in Lausanne in early June at Sport Accord/GAISF for those with pending applications, we suggested an informal meeting with FIG officials at that time so that they might further clarify to us their objectionable intentions. The FIG meeting did not occur, but the meeting with Sport Accord and representatives of the IOC did, the results of which were very encouraging, with them foreseeing a bright future for parkour among the Olympic family.
So, here we are. IPF continues to be committed to partnership with like-minded people of good will, with the goal of filling our 15 member board with a diverse group of global leaders who share our vision of inclusion. Please visit www.internationalparkourfederation.com to learn more about our progress (IPF By-Laws and Competition Guidebook will be posted very soon), as we continue our pro-parkour, pro-social initiatives around the world which we believe represent the best of the parkour philosophy, “Be strong to be useful.”
IPF- Strive Together!