Software Engineer // Bachelor's degree in Computer Science
One thing that noticeably sets you apart from everyone else at Krumware is your preferred mode of transportation. Had you always wanted to ride a motorcycle as a kid?
Convenience and low cost were nearly the only reasons I learned to ride. A few months before going to college, my dad bought another bike and suggested that, as I would be commuting to campus, I should learn to ride his old one. I was reluctant to take on the risk, but 60 miles per gallon and the ability to park a minute's walk from any building on campus was too much to ignore. Thinking back, it’s funny how bizarre that situation was - I, a risk-averse college kid, was convinced to ride a motorcycle by my dad.
It's funny that you describe yourself as risk-averse, yet you enjoy parkour. How did that come about?
I first encountered parkour watching Youtube videos when I was 12. I think the first video I saw was a showcase of stunts from the founder of parkour, David Belle. I tried learning some of the basics on my own - starting with more tricking oriented stuff like backflips, but I quickly grew disheartened because I lacked guidance and grew up in a rural area, while the sport is best suited for urban spaces.
Years later, as a UofSC freshman, I learned there was a parkour club, the Carolina Movement Club, and was excited to find they had several skilled members and safety equipment like crash pads (very thick mats). I learned several basic parkour techniques (e.g. kong vault and dash vault), though they quickly shifted focus to teaching freerunning and tricking techniques like wall spins (linked is an early attempt that was poorly executed). From there, most of my time was spent on tricking and freerunning, and while I didn’t often record tricks, I was able to find a short line from a few years ago.
Since parkour has gained popularity, it's diverged into similar, but distinct, branches-- like freerunning and tricking. Is there a particular branch that interests you more than others?
I’d say freerunning holds more of my interest than parkour. Although there are similarities, parkour as a training discipline is bound by the rules of minimal and efficient movement, while freerunning is about freedom of expression. When I was much younger, I attended gymnastics for a few years, and while I generally enjoyed it, it was weighed down by rules and procedures that just seemed totally asinine. I didn’t want to drill a technique for an hour, just to get what some “gymnastics authority” considered to be the right form - I’d rather set and follow my own goals.
That being said, it’s not as though parkour as a discipline is oppressive, and a likely greater deterrence was the risk involved. The drive to efficiently get from point A to point B would have you jump off a building rather than climb down, and that doesn’t really fit my risk-reward preferences.
What advice would you give to novice traceurs? Are there basic skills that one needs to nail down before going all out?
Safety rolls were always the first thing we taught at the Carolina Movement Club. Not only is it an integral part of many movements, but the expectation is that you will fall sooner, rather than later, and you can protect yourself if you know how to fall safely. We’d start people off with safety rolls from a kneeling position, then a standing position, while moving at increasing speeds, and finally have them learn dive rolls. Techniques were always taught as a series of progressions, making the process safer and more approachable.
Any gnarly stories or injuries to report?
Not since I started practicing at UofSC. However, that does remind me of this one time at a Summer Computer Science camp. I was sprinting at a wall with the intention of running up a few steps, but through some combination of worn out treads, or more likely just poor technique, my first step on the wall failed to transfer my forward momentum upwards, so I instead just smashed my knee into the wall. Me, being around 13 at the time and knowing the camp was hosted by a college with a strict reputation, had the ‘brilliant’ idea of hobbling to and hiding in my room for the remainder of the day, rather than actually getting help.
For traceurs that are new to the Columbia area, where are the best spots around town to train?
There are a number of good spots on and around the UofSC campus. The first that comes to mind is the grounds in front of the Thomas Cooper Library. There’s a number parallel and perpendicular walls in close proximity, with heights varying gradually from 3 to 8 feet. It’s a good place to practice vaults, or other tech like palm spins or wall runs.
Climbing made its debut this year at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Do you think parkour and freerunning have the potential to be recognized as Olympic sports in the near future?
I don’t know if it’s likely, but I can see how that would play out. For parkour, they’d probably build some faux urban environments, where traceurs would have time to study the layout prior, and at the last minute they could provide a starting and finishing point in what would end up being a race for the best time. As for freerunning, the same environment could be used, and scoring could be handled by panels of judges, similar to gymnastics.
Before we wrap up, it wouldn't be a proper Employee Spotlight without touching on your gaming preferences. You've said that your interest in gaming extends beyond video games. What types of games do you find yourself gravitating toward?
For me, games (board games and video games) have mostly been a means of socializing. While there are some single player games that I enjoy playing alone, like anything from The Legend of Zelda, I find most of the value in engaging with friends. The three video games I’ve been playing in rotation recently are
- Deep Rock Galactic - a game that puts you in a team of up to 4 dwarfs, mining a planet in space for a large corporate entity that has little regard for your life - or more concisely - OSHA’s Dwarven Dystopian Capitalist Nightmare. Very chaotic, which is part of the fun.
- Overwatch - a class based shooter pitting two teams of 6 against each other. What I like about this game is how much of an impact good communication and teamwork has - a coordinated team of lower skill players can outmaneuver a disorganized team of higher skill players.
- Monster Hunter World - hard to explain this one without going into too much detail. There are large scary monsters and you ‘bop’ them with hilariously oversized weapons
As for board games, my favorites are deck-building games like Dominion and social deduction games like Bang!, Coup, and Secret Hitler (a prevailing theme amongst which is lying through your teeth to your friends). Amongst my friend group that plays board games, Dominion is easily our favorite. It’s a deck-building game where you compete to acquire land. Throughout the course of play, you construct a deck from a common pool of 10 decks, which themselves are randomly selected from a much larger set at the beginning of each game. As a result, each game is different, providing endless replayability, and you have to learn to adapt your strategy very quickly.