Maria Raptaki: Parkour Pro Interview

Maria Raptaki: Parkour Pro Interview

by Thomas Tapp

 

Maria Raptaki is a traceur I’ve been wanting to interview for a while.

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Maria Raptaki

She caught my attention when I saw her EPIC show reel “Mind The Gap”.

The music, editing, and smooth movements amazed me! I’ve been a fan of hers since.

So when I had the chance to get an interview with her, I was totally PUMPED!

You get to hear her take on being a woman in the parkour scene, how she used parkour in a real-life situation, what she does for fun when she’s not training parkour, and much more!

Tell us some of your accomplishments
Maria: I have done NOTHING! Haha, ahmm well I think staying attached in here and now, living in the present has worked out well for me, either for parkour or in general..An other thing for which I’m really grateful is that I’ve really made the most of what I’ve ever wanted.

How did you get into parkour?
Maria: It was early morning, I woke up for work.. Opened the TV to watch some news and BAM! There was a parkour video of the Nsa greek parkour team playing on the channel. From the very first time I watched that video, i was attracted to it and immediately thought that this was something which would perfectly suit my character.. I used to dance for ages, I still enjoy and love dancing, but I was always looking for action, for something more dynamic and explosive to get into. Parkour was absolutely what I wanted. After that I got in contact with the guys and started training with them.

Do you find any challenges being a woman in the parkour scene?
Maria: Well I think challenges are unisex.. It’s just that most people don’t use to see a lot of women into that kind of philosophies and I guess that’s why they think that women might face more challenges in addition with men. It’s not the genre which creates the challenges, but the personality itself.

Have you ever had to use parkour in a “real-life” situation?
Maria: Yeah, one day I was walking outside with my bag on my arm..so a guy came close to me, grabbed my bag and started running..oh yeah he did a terrible mistake! I started running after him, was really close to him so he just left my bag and ran away.

 

Maria’s “Mind the Gap” Show Reel.

What does parkour mean to you?
Maria: It’s important to move in any way.. For me, Parkour is a unique way to learn how to move my mind, control my thoughts and therefore learn how to move in action. Focusing in one thing at a time is really great. Seeing facts and situations as they are, adding nothing more than that which fear and ego does. I really enjoy training parkour as a way of entertainment,but apart from that i adore the way it makes me think and act.

What’s your favorite move in parkour/free running?
Maria: I don’t have any specific favorite moves. But I usually use the speed vault when i want to pass an obstacle quickly. The sideflip and the arabic is more familiar to my movement when I want to flip.

What do you like to do when you’re not training parkour?
Maria: When I’m not training parkour, I enjoy hanging out with friends. I also like staying inside, cooking for friends, watching movies. Few years ago I used to party out a lot, but now more rarely. I absolutely enjoy attending live shows of some favorite music artists. I love travelling in different countries, last year I visited 4 countries, either for jobs or just vacations. Every now and then I’m dancing. At winter,if I get the chance, I snowboard. That’s the most of it..

How would you describe your personality?
Maria: I’ll let you figure that out, mystery rulez!
Do you prefer to train alone or with groups of people?
Maria: I usually train with groups. But I have trained alone too and the feeling is also interesting. I find it great being able to also have a nice time on your own.

What are your future plans with parkour??
Maria: I look forward to training the longest my body stays in a good physical condition. I believe that even the person with the best landings and technique could sometime in his/her future face any kind of physical pain from training.

That’s why I try to train in a progressive way but not pushing it too much or getting it out of my current limits. Thing is to train anything which makes you happy, but knowing that it will not harm you in the future and feel bad about something which some time ago made you feel great. Our body has a unique memory, always remembers how we’ve treated it, even after years.

You can see that with all this competition around, many people tend to rush a lot with their training, in order just to progress soon. But those guys miss all the nice feelings and knowledge you get mentally while training totally for yourself. Once i refered to competition, and as far as my professional goals are concerned, I really don’t see it in an competitive way to the rest trainers. I enjoy watching freerunning competitions a lot, but i stay closer to the oldschool parkour beliefs, guess they suit my character better.

I yet don’t have parkour as my main incoming money. Up to now, I usually accept Pk-jobs which I’d have fun doing them, and if not, then I guess I’ll decline them. In few months I plan to travel to California, stay there for as much as I can and grab any great parkour opportunities, and not only! Finally, I really enjoy coaching and taking part to workshops when I get the chance. Maybe in the future I’d be up to teaching parkour, who knows? I keep being too spontaneous with parkour, I “use” it many ways depending on my current mood and needs, that’s why I don’t usually plan everything about it. We’ll see how it comes..

What would you say to other women out there who are looking to get into parkour?
Maria: Try to be original in everything you do. Of course it’s sweet to get inspired by others, there’s plenty of interesting people out there, but always stay yourself and create your own little “story”. As I always say, keep having fun with your training, that’s why insistence and patience is a lot required. Sometimes you might train and train without seeing the results you expect, chill out, there’s no need to rush, neither feel bad about it, nothing will happen when being sad, only just loose your time.

There are some times when I stop training parkour for a couple of days or even a week. Then I get into something else which I also enjoy doing, dancing for example. This is really helpful once your mind clears up and feels more relaxed processing to what you have learnt till now. You’ll see that when you’ll start up training again, you’ll feel more confident and explosive with your movement. And first of all that’s because you’ll feel a strong mood to train after all those days being off, your body will be rested too.

You don’t have to think that you train parkour in order to do what others do in the videos that you watch, because this will only make you feel stressed. Simple and basic things can make a good start among with your patience and insistence for knowledge.

Fear is also an issue.

If you really enjoy the idea of training parkour, then you’ ll find your own way to control the fear as your training “matures” by time. If you feel afraid of doing a specific move/technique, then try cut it in pieces and practise separately those “pieces” until you feel more comfortable of doing the complete move.You also need to know that everything’s like a chain in parkour. While leveling up your training, you will also need to level up your body condition and the way of thinking too.

Don’t get disappointed too easily, you need to do everything step by step. Even when you were little ones, you really didn’t woke up oneday and started walking and running off your cot, you were too young to remember that you waited for the right time and then kept trying to walk step by step, sometimes you fell down too, but you were too determined to keep up.. Keep it up girls, cheers!!

If you’re interested in learning more about Maria or watching her AWESOME Videos, check out her YouTube channel and Facebook page!

Like Maria’s Facebook Page HERE!: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maria-Raptaki

Maria’s YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Marriaaa

  • The calming acepst (for me) is the repetition that goes into perfecting your movement. You zone in and end up doing so much of the same thing, progressing towards cleaner movement.You don’t need any special equipment, all you need is shoes (kinda) and clothing that will let you move freely. The movements I’ll mention can be found at the site on the bottom. They’re considered basic, but you build on these for everything you do:Quadrupedal movement (quadrupedie)- It’s a general work out, but it also does a lot for your coordination. There are a lot of variations, some on rails if you want to work on balance. Get used to the fact that you can move with two hands.Cat grabs/traverses (hang shimmy) and climb ups- QM will do more for your triceps, quads, and abs, these will mainly work your forearms and biceps. Should get you used to climbing objects. Try climbing trees and moving on them as well.Precison jumps- It’s mainly your quads, but also works on your landing technique, balance, and strength to distance judgement capabilities. Find a spot with a good sized gap, something you can do, and repeat them.Balance- learning to move on narrow surfaces is essential for parkour. Practice it, get good at it.Vaults- these require the use of at least one hand, the shifting of your bodyweight, the leg power to get initial air, the coordination to judge distances and body position, and the arm power to carry through. There are many vaults out there, so take them one at a time. You might get them easily, you might not.Finding a spot for all this may be tricky. Look at playgrounds, and keep your eye open for places that may make your movement through them difficult. Don’t forget to look in forests, if you have any.