I had a chat with rising talent Ed Scott. He had a great 2017, making it through to the main event of the Red Bull Art of Motion despite being a bit of an underdog in the on-site qualifiers. I ask him about his training, who inspires him, and his aspirations for the future.
So Ed, what did qualifying for the finals of the Art of Motion in Santorini last year do for your confidence and your profile? Tell the story behind that if you like!
For me, the red bull art of motion was insane. It was probably the best parkour trip that I’ve ever been on - and it almost didn’t happen! I went out with Tim Champion, we booked the flights about 4 days before the actual event, just as a last minute thing. We’d always wanted to go, and we didn’t really have a reason not to this time.
We got there and decided we would go along to the on-site qualifiers, just to have a look and see what was going on. I was quite keen on entering the qualifiers anyway, just so I could say “Oh, I’ve had a go at the Art of Motion”. I ended up managing to get through to the second phase of the on-site qualifiers, which for me was just unreal. To be competing with like… the best in the world, and to be selected to be in the top 20 was just unreal! It was such a buzz for me.
It gave me a big confidence boost, and a realisation that this is definitely what I want to do. But by no means did I think at that point that I would be able to get through to the top 5. That was completely not on my mind. I was like “I’ve made it this far, this is sick! I’m really really excited!”
So I went back the next day for the next part of the qualifiers. We competed, I put down a clean run - which is all I wanted to do. The moves were fairly difficult, but nowhere near as hard as what some of the others guys were throwing down. But I think because I was consistently clean through the whole thing, it was deemed worthy of going through to the main competition, which absolutely blew my mind - it was unreal!
From there my confidence just shot up. I was just like “WHAT?! How have I made it here?” Tim came over and congratulated me, and then everyone else there, all the British guys were there and buzzing so hard, it was insane!
The following day we got to check out the actual course for the main competition. That was pretty much just like a dream really, man. I’d watched Red Bull Art of Motion for so many years, and then to finally come through and actually get to have a go on the course was UNREAL - absolutely mad. And obviously from there, went through to the competition, had an amazing time.
Coming back to the UK, I don’t know if it really changed my profile too much… it was an amazing experience, and most of the people where I live got together and watched me on the TV, and it was really really sick! My confidence definitely went up after seeing that I could go up and compete with the best in the world, and like… do alright, put down a clean run and get through.
So yeah confidence up high; profile… I don’t know if it went up a lot, but definitely more people knew who I was, which is really exciting to me because I live down in the South-West where nothing ever happens. It was quite exciting to think that people might be turning their eyes to the South-West, which is really cool.
You mentioned that where you’re from is a bit quiet, tell me more about how you managed to get into parkour, and what your local scene is actually like?
The scene down in the South-West is pretty good! We’ve got a pretty good community down where I live in Exeter, with people consistently coming out training and stuff. There’s some really good cities around us too, like Plymouth - which is amazing for spots but no one ever seems to go down there, probably because it’s quite a journey for most people. The whole South-West is a bit cut off from the rest of the country like that actually. We’re like 3 hours away from London.
I started training with my friend’s Steve Jehu and Tim Champion. We started training in Exeter and going to jams up in London every now and again when we could. But the spots in Exeter are pretty good, so it helped us all progress. The people are the main reason why the training down here is so good… guys like Tom Taylor, Charlie Havill, Joe Williams, David Blogg, they’re all great. It’s a really good community down here. It’s a really good place to be training.
So what is a day’s training like for you? Do you like to just go at everything really hard, or do you like to just play around and explore new things? Or a mixture maybe?
Because of the people down here, I’m really lucky with who I get to train with. So Tim won the NAPC skills competition last year, so he’s like really technical and skillful within parkour movements. We’ve got Tom who’s really good at speed, and then Steve and Charlie are super into their flips. So I’ve got such a good mix of people down here, which makes me try and do everything - I want to be a really good all rounder! I want to be able to like… If someone were to go “Can you do this?” I should be able to do it, you know?
I tend to start at one of the local spots, usually this car park near where I live. Then we’ll head on into town. At the moment, or recently rather I’ve been working on more flip based stuff, and building as many lines as I can. Using flips in lines as like a preparation for competitions, where how fluid and smooth you are between skills is important. But then again I’m always really into the parkour challenges Tim is doing, I’ll do those with him. I know that if I can keep up with him on those I’ll be more well rounded. Although he’s not around so much these days, but when he is it’s really good!
Tom is really knowledgeable with weightlifting too - 2 days a week we all go weightlifting with him, and that’s probably one of the most beneficial things I’ve done to help my parkour. I started with gymnastics and that was great for flip based stuff, but for developing my power and speed, that’s all come through the weightlifting programs we’ve been doing with Tom. It’s been really really helpful. I don’t think I would be where I am today without it, it helps with everything, even with taking impact.
Oh and I try and scare myself as much as I can! I think the mental side of parkour is overlooked so much - like when people look at a challenge and get scared of it they just bottle it. So whenever I go out I try and do at least one thing that’s gonna scare me and push me out of my comfort zone. I think that’s a really important factor, to not just repeat the same stuff over and over, but to question your ability. I think it makes you better at doing stuff off the cuff too. If you get scared of a challenge you should be able to push through that barrier and do it anyway. That’s something I really try and focus on.
A thing that strikes me about your movement style is your ariel awareness, did you have an athletic background before you even started training parkour?
Before I started freerunning I had a gymnastics background. I started gymnastics when I was 2 years old. I got pretty good at it, I was in the South-West squad. I competed at the national finals, and I went to a team GB training camp and stuff - which was really exciting. I still coach 5 times a week at a gymnastics club now, I’ve been involved at the club I’m at now for 18 years. Which I’d say is a pretty long time. I’ve had a really great time with it!
I’d say a lot of people don’t really like gymnastics, or at least not that style of movement in freerunning. Which I can completely understand, but I owe a lot of my skill to gymnastics because that’s where I first learned how to twist well, and double-flip, and round-off correctly and stuff. I think for me it was a really important sport to get me into freerunning. I still work on gymnastic based skills after work too, to keep my spatial awareness up.
Wanting to be a sick all rounder is such a good aspiration to have. I guess I what I wanna ask now is - are you training with competition in mind? Do you have aspirations to do a lot more competitions?
When I’m putting lines together and stuff, I’m kinda thinking about competition. At the moment I’m mostly thinking about how I can put my hardest movements into a line that has other sections. Like, I’m getting pretty good at double-corks now, and I’m really trying to integrate them into the middle of a line. I see a lot of people doing like a ‘banger’ move right at the end of their line, but in my mind I’m thinking “If I can fill a line with bangers then I should do well”. So yeah, I’m trying to link my hardest skills together so they get easier and my stamina gets better and stuff like that.
So which competitions do you wanna get out to this year?
At the moment the plan is to compete at the Katalyst competition in Rotherham. I went to it last year and managed to win, so I’d like to go to it again and hopefully do as well as I did last year. It’s pretty soon actually. I’d love to go to the America competitions like the NAPC, but I might be a little busy with something non-parkour related around then so we’ll see. If the opportunity arises I will though.
I’d say the main one for me is probably going to the Air Wipp Challenge. I think it’s probably the biggest freerunning competition, although its close between the AoM and the AWC. I’m definitely going to get out to the Air Wipp Challenge and hopefully get to compete on that course, because it looked insane last year. Such an amazing course.
I noticed how you like to mention people who inspire you, so I want to ask outright - beyond the names you’ve already mentioned, who inspires you the most? In terms of style, or maybe even attitude?
Oh man! Inspirations… I’ve got so many. Because I want to be an all-rounder I get inspired so easily by loads of different people. So for like parkour kinda stuff, and for how powerful they are, I like watching Darryl Stingley, and Jimmy Perreira, oh and obviously Callum Powell, he’s a G! Kie Willis as well for his precision of movement - I was training with him not so long ago, and he’s just so on point. Really like watching Joe Hendo train because he just goes so fast, and for just like how skillful he is. Benj Cave, he’s like the style lord! I watched the latest Cavemen video and it blew my mind the amount of style both Cave brothers have, and the amount of effort they put into their videos.
Bringing it back to Darryl again, I watched his new video 16 Barz and some of the stuff in that is next level! I’d love to recreate as much of that as I can - I know I’ll never be able to because that guy can swing so well, but I think having an aspiration to be able to do stuff like that is important. I think that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment, take a little piece from everyone that I meet.
Do you have any big aspirations for your time with parkour? A full-on career perhaps, to create new movements, win loads of competitions maybe?
I think I would like to be a DK-like figure - like going to competitions and consistently placing well. I think being consistent is a really good aspiration to have. But hopefully I’d also like to, if I can get creative enough some day, to bring out some new moves. Just some things that people never thought of, or thought would be possible.
I’ve been thinking recently that I’d love to be like the first person to hit a tsukahara with a full twist in competition. I dunno I just think it would be really cool to do that, it would be a really big milestone for me. I’d be really happy with it.
Then with like clothing and stuff - at the moment I’m not really knowledgeable at all about that kind of stuff. But I think I would like to get involved with that side of things, along with cinematography. I just want to branch out as much as I can so that if something were to go wrong, I’m still able to participate and be involved in this amazing sport. Obviously I want to be a full time athlete, and train every day, so if the opportunity comes along I’ll definitely be doing that as soon as I can.
Hitting a Tsukahara-Full in comp a really cool aspiration! That’s got me thinking, what movement did you feel the most proud of landing after doing it for the first time?
There’s been a couple that have been a real struggle to get. Probably the biggest one recently that I’ve had to work really hard for is the double-cork on flat. I still can’t do it on grass or anything like that, still only got it on sprung floor. But that trick took me so long to get, it was so annoying! I had to work so long on that one, constantly falling over and biffing it onto my side.
I want to do wall double-full as well, I haven’t done that one yet. I really need to get that one, and there will be so many others down the line I’ll want to get eventually.
So what has parkour and freerunning taught you about yourself that gymnastics never did, or anything else in life ever did? What unique lesson has this sport given you?
I think the main thing for me personally that I didn’t really get from gymnastics as much, is the sense of community. Gymnastics has it of course, but nowhere near as much as in parkour. As you know, the community in parkour is something else. It’s something I’ve definitely never experienced before - the ability for people just to invite other people to stay with them even though they’ve never met them before, and travel through countries together. There’s always a friendly hand, like a place to stay.
Oh and how the community can pull together on issues and topics, I think that’s like the best thing about parkour! How everyone can come together and share the love of a sport, and act as if we’ve all known each other for ages. That’s really the main thing I’ve learned through parkour. Hopefully as the sport grows we can stay true to that, because it’s what sets us apart from a lot of other sports.
Outside of parkour and freerunning, what is your biggest passion?
Outside of freerunning I like doing lots of different sports; I really like doing Taekwondo, I used to do a bit of high diving, I’m trying to do a bit of stuff for the stunt register so I need to do loads of different sports for that which is really fun. Outside of like, sport in general, I’ve got some stuff I wanna learn more about… I wanna get good with the camera, like photography, cinematography, editing, that’s the main one at the moment.
What’s your parkour pet peeve, or perhaps something that just generally grinds your gears?
What annoys me is when security guards come out just screaming and shouting straight away. They often just assume the worst, when we’re clearly just jumping between walls… so that kinda annoys me. But other than that, there nothing really. I just try and be chilled out about everything, and that sort of works for me.
I often get annoyed with myself though, like if I can't get a line or a trick how I want it to be. But I think that’s a healthy thing to be doing. I often take far too long to film a line, which makes me feel really bad if I’m getting someone to film it for me. But I think that’s all healthy, because it means you care about what you’re doing.
This was the first article in a series of spotlights onto fresh faces in the community, who do you think would be a good person to do an interview with in a future edition?
A guy I’d like to read about is Charles Luong. I met him out in Santorini, and he was in the exact same situation as I was. He didn’t really know anyone there, he was kinda like an underdog that came through and managed to get a place in the main competition. I really rate him, and I think he’s going to do so well. I think he’s got a sponsor now actually, but yeah he’s a super cool guy, similar age to me so I can relate to him a lot.
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As you can probably tell, Ed is a really down to earth and humble guy despite being an absolute beast! I think he's got a bright future ahead of him, and I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing him luck in future competitions. Thanks for doing the Interview Ed!
Check out Ed's Instagram: @edscott1
Feel free to leave suggestions for future 'fresh faces' editions down in the comments!