David Banks is an artist and mover from Glasgow, Scotland. As a co-founder of the company Ukemi, he merges his background in art and parkour by creating projects that encourage play, improve health, and make movement accessible in urban areas. David has been a part of various projects through Ukemi, collaborating on Youth Urban Games festival and creating the Ukemi card game.
Childhood role of movement
He wanted to be Spiderman, Neo, Goku, and various Final Fantasy characters. Got a Spiderman costume as a child, and basically lived in it. Decided he wanted to be Spiderman, and that led to movement. Learned boxing, parkour, and wanted to be a vigilante. Realized that often that victimizes vulnerable parts of society, and instead focused on the story, narrative of superheroes. Specific inspirations: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris. Martial arts teacher, Marc Howes of team Jigoku; old school style, huge inspiration. Built mental toughness, but also had softness and artistry. Learned more than just martial arts from him.
Moved to Glasgow when he turned 18, wanted a bigger parkour scene. Excited to meet people and be part of that culture (knew people through the forum). Glasgow’s opportunities for arts and culture were huge. Moving allowed him to grow, change, and redefine himself. Movement changes reflected; went to the Royal Conservatory to learn drama, and learned dance. Impacted his movement style, more flow. Larger parkour scene also allowed for growth
The idea related to the law in Scotland; loose laws around trespassing and free movement. People will still call the cops, but technically parkour is not against the law anywhere. The movement card explains the laws and rights (originally Scotland), to show people who are trying to get you to leave. It also links to the website, a database of laws and rights of movement globally. The goal is so that people can also use it to point to precedent and try to change their laws. Currently in several different countries, and working on expanding and working with Parkour Earth.
Charity endurance events
8 mile cat crawl: the beginning of David’s endurance events: started as a fundraising effort for Haiti earthquake. Did it in January, in hail and snow; injured himself while doing it, made 8 miles (but wanted it to be a half-marathon). All the fundraising was done on the spot, engaging with onlookers. Became depressed afterwards, because he hadn’t completed the full half-marathon, couldn’t help more people. Let to deciding to do another event that had a definitive ending: London Marathon, but on stilts. There is always an external stimulus; some type of fundraising, a cause that he holds onto. Rail Marathon to raise money for parkour programs supporting mental health. Couldn’t do it because of injury, but it became a group event. 34 people in 12 countries did a mile, and raised money for it. Looking like it will become an annual event. David’s attempt will still happen, but probably more of a performance art.
Performance and theater
Linked to Spiderman; drew him into storytelling. David Blane, Marina Abromovich inspire him. Won’t define parkour; part of the beauty of it is that no one can define it or agree on what it is. That is part of the culture, and an important part; what makes it similar to performance art for David. What he really loves about it. Nothing braver than getting on a stage with the purist form of a thing. He loves performance art because of what it is; watching something and reflecting on it, and himself. Not usually how he performs, though. Tends to be more flashy, circus, crazy things. He performs often in parkour crossover shows, with theater, dance, etc. But many have the same themes; freedom, breaking away from the ‘normal.’ Also performers often get taken advantage of. David wants to create a parkour show for and by parkour practitioners. Specific to parkour spots, parkour people, and about parkour. Exploring different aspects of parkour, interactive with the audience, scrapbooks of the moment. Explaining parkour without ever explaining it.
Injury, self-care, recovery
Lots of yoga; solid foundation. Moves everyday, some active rest, but never passive. Hanging, brachiation (Ido Portal, David has done his course). Lots of good things on Ido’s blog. Look for experts, people you can learn from. Always trying new and different things, to keep your body moving in different ways. Sometimes you have to be the worst in the room to learn. Find what you’ve practiced the most, then do the opposite.
Contact and further info
To learn more about David’s other projects, you can visit his website (davidbanksartist.com) or follow him on instagram (@davidbanksartist). To learn more about Ukemi and their projects, you can visit ukemi.ninja or follow their instagram (@ukemiproject). You can learn more about the Movement Card (and participate in the project) at mvmnt-card.com.