Parkour buff

HATTA Yang was once chased by a dog as a kid. He ran as fast as he could, jumped over a drain, climbed over a wall and pulled himself up like his life depended on it. Little did he know that he was already doing parkour – the sport of moving through a city by running, jumping and climbing under, around and through things.

Besides doing athletics in school, Yang also started dancing when he was 12. Being an active kid got him into commercials, where at 18, he was introduced to a parkour team on the set of a beverage commercial shoot.

"I didn't know parkour existed in Malaysia; I thought it only existed overseas. I saw them jumping and flipping off the wall, and I thought it was amazing. So I asked them to teach me," Yang recalled.

Upon learning the fundamentals, Yang was hooked on the extreme sport. He began training with them for a year and later decided to go professional.

"It got me thinking, if you do something you like, it is a hobby. But if you do something you like, and work for money at the same time, it becomes a profession. That was how Art of Extreme Movement (AOXM) was formed," explained the 22-year-old.

Now, AOXM performs in videos and commercials, and at events as a professional parkour team. The 20 member unit does parkour, tricking, freerunning, breakdancing and skateboarding, and more as part of the extreme sports community in Malaysia.

Why is parkour exciting to you?

When the team first taught me parkour, they brought me outdoors with no mats; just concrete floor and grass. If you fall, you fall. Then I realised that parkour is not only about physical strength, it is a lot about mental strength too. If you are not mentally strong, you cannot overcome an obstacle because you're afraid. But if you're not scared, you're willing to try. That is one good thing about parkour – it makes you challenge and win over yourself. People always say that your worst enemy is yourself.

Are you a health and fitness enthusiast?

I went to the gym a lot when I was younger. When I was 18, I attended body combat classes so often that I wanted to become a body combat instructor at one point. I was also exercising all the time, and enjoyed attending martial art classes such as muay thai and capoeira. That was where I developed an interest in opening a gym.

What is your favourite type of martial art?

My favourite would be capoeira because of the flips. It is always about the flow and harmony. Capoeira is also one of the things that got me hooked into tricking – a type of martial art that incorporates tae kwon do, karate, muay thai, capoeira and gymnastic moves. In short, it is martial art with flips.

Would you say that parkour is for everyone?

I believe parkour is for everyone. It depends on the movements you learn or do. Of course, some gymnastic moves we do require more energy, but parkour is not difficult because it is always about the flow, going through and over obstacles. So anyone can do it.

What are your plans for AOXM?

I plan to open an events company because we are into promoting health, fitness and survival skills. My goal is to have parkour workshops around Malaysia because you wouldn't know if it could save your life one day.

How about your personal goals?

I hope to become a commercial director because I have done many commercials in the past and I like how they incorporate parkour elements within 30 seconds. Unlike film and dramas, you have to show your idea within 30 seconds. When I return to Malaysia after graduating, I'd like to specialise in movement commercials, whether dancing, parkour or stunts.

I also want to open a gym that allows people to do parkour, gymnastics, cheerleading and martial arts together, share knowledge and learn from each other.