On common inspiration and Parkour across cultural boundaries

Craig: At college, how did you get into Arabic studies and wind up in Jordan?

Andrew: I had to take a language for my major, international studies, and I also had to pick a focus, so I picked a focus on the Middle East, and I picked Arabic. I guess I [00:08:00] have a fascination with that area and had always been interested in it. Then my professor, my Arabic professor, was from Jordan. One thing led to another, and I ended up in a study abroad program to study Arabic at the University of Jordan for a summer. I went over there for a two-month intensive Arabic program and fell in love with it over there and ended up telling my professor. At the end of two months, I was [00:08:30] like, “Hey, you know how we have a flight tomorrow?”

Craig: Yeah, I’m not going to be on that.

Andrew: “I’m not going to get on it.” I dropped out of college for a year, and I lived in the Middle East and stayed there. I loved it. I love the language. I love the culture. I love the food. I love the people. It was amazing.

Craig: While you were in Egypt, I understand that surreptitiously fell into a Parkour jam and then…

Andrew: Yeah, kind of crazy. Like I said, [00:09:00] it’s just one of those things that happens. I went out to this park to train. I was there for a few minutes training, and then I see a guy out of the corner of my eye do something like a jump, and I’m like, “Oh, got to check that out.”

Craig: I saw a precision!

Andrew: That looks like a precision. I see baggy sweatpants. I go running over there, and there’s a group of guys that are jamming. They got some hip-hop beats playing and they’re break-dancing. They got a little kicker. They’re chucking side flips. Five minutes later, I’m home, I’m with family, we’re all training.

Craig: [00:09:30] Walks up and says hello and does a back flip and in like Flint!

Andrew: Yeah. It’s awesome. You don’t even need to speak the same language. I spoke Arabic, but nonetheless, it’s just like you start training together. We trained that day, and then at the end of the day, they’re like, “Okay, meet back here tomorrow. Another training session.” I’m like, “Yes, all right.” More people show up the next day, and then we’re training, and one dude pulls out a cell phone and he’s talking on the phone. He says, “Hey, you want to meet Danny Ilabac?” I was like, “Yeah.”

Craig: Now you’re just pulling my leg, right?

Andrew: “Wouldn’t we all? Wouldn’t we all like to meet Danny?” He’s like, “No, for real. Danny Ilabaca [00:10:00] has a jam tomorrow.” It was like, “What? Wait, where? Here?”

Craig: …I just happen to be in Egypt…

Andrew: Yeah. It was crazy. Danny’s always traveling all over, I guess. It was so cool, yeah. Next thing I know, I’m in a taxi, and then we’re cruising through a market, and there’s donkeys everywhere, and then we’re at this jam. The whole Parkour community from the whole city of Cairo shows up. Danny’s there, and everybody’s jamming. It was amazing. It was such a cool experience to see the community show up and everyone’s so excited. [00:10:30] Danny’s such an inspirational figure for so many people. That’s also cool like … We grew up on other sides of the world, but these guys view Danny the same way. It’s like, “I know nothing about your life, and you know nothing about mine, but we have this same person that’s been a huge inspiration for us.”

Craig: Common inspiration, right.

Andrew: They’re like, “Danny Ilabaca.” I’m like, “Yeah, Danny Ilabaca.” They’re like, “Choose not to fall.” I’m like, “Choose not to fall. Yes!”

Craig: Right.

Andrew: That was great. It was a huge … Danny’s been a hug inspiration for me growing up. [00:11:00] Even, I remember showing my parents some of his videos, trying to convince them that Parkour was a good idea when he’s talking about how it’s changed and influenced his life. Getting to meet him, he’s like, “I took a picture with him.” I was like, “Sorry, I hate to be that guy, but I got to take a picture to show my brothers. They’re never going to believe I met.”

Then I got to … He invited me to have dinner with him, and we got to talk. I feel like he’s such a … He’s like a sage or a guru. [00:11:30] You don’t talk to him for very long before he’s picking you apart. He looks over at me. He’s like, “Hey, Andrew. Training with you, I just see something. You’ve got this potential, but you’re not realizing it.” I’m like, “Wait, what?” He’s like, “I watched you running up to that precision, and you were stutter stepping.” He’s like, “Stop looking ahead and thinking ahead. You need to be in the moment. Each step, have your mind in the moment.” I didn’t even know he’s watching me, and he’s breaking me down as a person.

Craig: Yeah, in one glance, right? He picked that apart.

Andrew: Yeah.