Running and jumping is not just child’s play for five Union County stuntmen. Doing backflips off of picnic tables, jumping off of buildings, running as quick as possible, and jumping and flipping off of rails are all in a normal day’s slate of activities for the Gorilla Stunt Team.
These guys practice two art forms: free running and parkour.
According to Cody “Cross” Pannell, founder of the team, free running is a form of urban acrobatics in which participants use the city and rural landscapes to perform movements through its structures. It is also defined as discipline to self-development and following your own way. Free running was founded by Sebastien Foucan.
Cody Pannell said, “The best way to describe free running is to jump from one thing to another and let your inner child come out and play.”
On the other hand, parkour is described as the physical discipline of training needed to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment.
“It requires consistent disciplined training with an emphasis on functional strength, physical conditioning, balance, creativity, control and looking beyond the traditional use of objects,” said Cody Pannell.
Parkour movements typically includes running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, and balancing. The training focuses on safety, longevity, personal responsibility and self-improvement.
The Gorilla Stunt Team is comprised of Ernest “King” James, Cody “Cross” Pannell, Colt “Tank” Pannell, Terry “Airborne” Montgomery, and Trey “Beast” Montgomery.
The teammates all developed nicknames when they proved their abilities past a certain point.
The name of the team came from the members’ idols, the EMC Monkeys, which is a famous stunt team.
There are five rules that they abide by: always check the surroundings, respect where you are doing your trick, find your own style, be creative, and have fun.
The Gorilla Stunt team was formed six years ago as a way for people to get in shape and to stay out of trouble.
The group said, “When we go to a playground, most people just see a playground, but we see a training ground.”
Parkour discourages reckless behavior, showing off and dangerous stunts. James said that items are tested for stability and reliability before anyone jumps off of something or flips from an object or objects. The group also practices safety, a few of the team members know CPR, and a first aid kit is always on site.
“Parkour practitioners value community, humility, sharing of knowledge and the importance of play in human life while demonstrating respect for all people, places and spaces. We use parkour as a chance to train and better ourselves and we use what is available in our environment. We are not just reckless kids – we are training,” said Cody Pannell.
Trey Montgomery said, “I like practicing parkour because it is fun. Ever since I learned how to do a flip I have wanted to do more.”
Terry Montgomery said, “I like to test my physical abilities. I also like to surprise people.”
The team has already trained approximately 10 people, but they don’t train children that are under eight years old.
A few of the team members have previous martial arts training, which helps them with their discipline as well as learning the correct way to fall by allowing the body’s inertia continue to flow when falling. The members practice rolling techniques when falling so as not to break their joints and other body parts.
Colt Pannell said, “I like the freedom of it and being able to move around.” James said that he just likes showing off.
The group would like to open their own stunt academy and studio and train people on parkour and free running. They want to develop their own t-shirts and various products and plan to develop a website. Currently, they have a Facebook page called Team Gorilla. The group practiced at the 2011 Union County Relay for Life and are scheduled to perform at the 2011 Fourth of July festival in Tupelo. The cost is $3 a class for training. They will come and perform at birthday parties, weddings, and more.
Colt Pannell said, “We are Team Gorilla. To us, obstacles are no obstacle.”
For more information, contact Cody Pannell at 662-507-0401.