Daniel Ilabaca video courtesy of © World Freerunning & Parkour Federation
By Harry Go
Considered by many as one of the world's leading practioners of Parkour, Daniel Ilabaca is often described as super human. At only 21-years-old, Daniel continuously breaks boundaries of physical progression and shows us the true meaning of freedom through his movement. His unique and dynamic style has landed him roles in music videos and television ads, worldwide recognition and a win at the first MTV Ultimate Parkour Challenge held this year.
We caught up with Daniel to discuss his love for Spider-Man, how it feels to flip off rooftops, pushing human limits and much more!
Marvel.com: First off, congratulations on your win at MTV's Ultimate Parkour Challenge. What does this kind of exposure mean for you and Parkour?
Photo By Jon Lucas
Daniel Ilabaca: I guess it gives me more of a position to speak and pass the knowledge on what Parkour is, which is a great thing because a lot of people are looking to get into competition these days. Obviously, [competition] is about a person proving that he's better than another person, and I think thats why I got involved. To show that it's up to the individual and how he shows himself. Life is full of ups and downs and [Parkour] is about heading into those obstacles with control.
Marvel.com: Parkour is a pretty new sport and it's also one of the most dangerous and exciting to watch. The reason being that you and other athletes involved in the sport are performing super human-like stunts. Can you tell us how you got started in the sport and your personal philosophy behind practicing Parkour?
Daniel Ilabaca: Well, it was a certain point in my life when I was at school and I was always told just to get on with the work. I was always asking questions, I was wanting to know more about life and the reasons why we're all here basically, and every time I asked a question I was basically told to be quiet and just get on with my work. That made me start thinking "am I in the right place?" and then it got me to a point where I was starting to hang out on the street and starting to do unhealthy things.
Then one day I saw a guy who did a flip in the street and at the time I thought, "Oh wow. I want to learn how to do this move, this is what I want to do." I ended up learning how to do this martial art, Capoeira which is a Brazilian martial art. I did that for a couple years but along the journey I discovered even Capoeira as a martial art had boundaries and rules. So I just kind of took it to the streets really.
What I'd always done when I was a kid was climb trees and basically just enjoy myself and find adventures. So basically I just took it back to that route and from there Parkour as a movement just developed without actually knowing what it was really. It's similar to Spider-Man and Peter Parker. I mean obliviously you can't fire webs out of your hands but just the life that he lived was very similar to my own really and how I discovered Parkour, what it gave me and what it helped me understand. That "with great power, comes great responsibility".
Marvel.com: So speaking of Spider-Man, are you a Marvel fan?
Daniel Ilabaca: I am a Marvel Fan yeah, I grew-up watching Spider-Man and stuff like [that]. While I was a kid I always used to look outside the car and just imagine swinging from a lamp-post and jumping from one building to the next. Growing up to where I am now I still do it a lot of times really. But the strange thing I noticed recently is that when I look out the window and think about myself jumping around it's only at the level that I am at, which made me realize that I was so much more open and free to the possibilities of life when I was a child. It just shows that even in Parkour I've become restricted to what’s possible and what's not possible and when you realize that…Anything’s possible.
Marvel.com: Parkour, in essence, is the fastest way to get from point A to point B by overcoming obstacles using your natural surroundings and your body. Can you think of any Marvel Characters that utilize this same philosophy?
Daniel Ilabaca: Well yeah, Spider-Man. The way he moves is very similar to the way Parkour is practiced.
Marvel.com: So Parkour and Marvel share a similar mission and theme of pushing the human condition to the limit. We do it by creating characters and stories that inspire the thought of pushing personal limits and you guys do it by showing others that it is possible to push human physical progression. Seeing as this is a fairly new sport, where do you see Parkour going in the future in terms of human physical progression?
Photo By Jon Lucas
Daniel Ilabaca: Well to be honest, looking at Parkour helps me to realize that it's no different than anything else. You know you've got soccer. I mean you've got to think about how it began and this group of guys who got together and just kicked-up by the window. There was just that unity and strength amongst each other and that's where the happiness came from. It's the way everything goes nowadays, you know. It comes from a mental mind and it gets a definition on it and becomes physical. Nowadays, soccer is about making money and who's the best at putting the ball in the net and stuff, and people lose that happiness.
Now it can go two ways, Parkour can become a completely physical thing and get used by the industry in so many different ways that it loses it's meaning. It sounds harsh for me to say that, but that's the reality of it. Or it can go the other way where the message is maintained and actually starts to factor into peoples lives. When the message is pure throughout every practitioner you can see that true message of what Parkour is about.
Marvel.com: There's a video of you on your YouTube Channel doing a move called the "Kong Gainer" that is pretty insane. Tell us about the move and what possessed you to create something so crazy.
Daniel Ilabaca: Well to be honest I wouldn't really know, it was just kind of one of those things. More than anything it was just the attitude of life while I was there with my friends. There's no worries. There's no fear. We could all just live. Naturally, you think outside the box. You're always looking for something new and that was just the thing that popped into my head; something new to be created in order for people to find truth and meaning through movement itself.
I'm always moving forward. As I said, Parkour is just a form of expression. It's not necessarily a sport, it's just a way of expressing yourself through the environment. Because in the world we live in nowadays, freedom, imagination and creativity are very hard to find even with the younger generation, you know. Young kids are being encouraged to grow up faster and faster nowadays, and because of that their not in touch with their imagination, creativity and just adventure. So by creating something new you can find that adventure and creativity.
Marvel.com: If you could be one of the Marvel characters who would it be and why?
Daniel Ilabaca: I don't know, to be honest I'd stay being myself. But, if it had to be answered then I guess I'd be Spider-Man. Just that freedom you see with his movement gives him that position to speak to people. It just shows that even though he has all these great powers that people would dream of having, he still goes through all the same battles that we all go through. Life is full of ups and downs, and he's still human at the end of the day. He's such a great model for that really. So yeah, I think Spider-Man would be the one for me.
Marvel.com: A lot of us read the comics and imagine how it would feel to swing across the city and jump across rooftops. You actually do something very similar. Can you describe to us how it feels to move like one of the Marvel heroes?
Daniel Ilabaca: I guess it could feel like anything else really. I mean after you practice moving for a while it becomes the norm, but that's a bad place to be in your head because once you're comfortable with where you are you can't progress any further. It's about always just looking outside the box and realizing that just being in the moment and being happy where you are is such a beautiful thing, and my movement is just an expression of how happy I am. I'll say for instance, I was doing a workshop in Rome [and] I managed to get across to everyone what I was there for, what I'm about, and how I view myself and how I view them. And because I expressed what was in my heart, we were all able just to be free. It's just that freedom. I mean I know there are set moves but I can't really say that that's where I associate happiness for me. Every element of movement is happiness, whether I'm washing the dishes or...you know what I mean? Every aspect of my life is just a happy moment. We can all experience that. We don't have to do movements to experience it. It's that fulfillment really.
To learn more about Freerunning/Parkour visit the World Freerunning & Parkour Federation.
Want to see Parkour action in Marvel Comics? Recent Spidey villain Screwbell uses her Parkour skills to avoid Spider-Man's webs! Check her out in Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #559! Join now!
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