In the almost dizzying three-and-a-half minute clip — their most recent release — three members of parkour troupe Storror make what appears to be a mad dash across the rooftops of Kowloon after facing off with a security guard, defying death as they leap between the tops of towering apartment blocks.
But what you see in that video is not the whole picture, members of the seven-man, British-based group explained in a recent interview with Coconuts Hong Kong.
“None of those jumps, none of whatever we do is done under the influence of adrenaline. Every time, it’s completely calm, because we know our abilities,” said Benj Cave, 24.
“We only commit to something when it is 100 percent we know the results of the outcome.”
The clip — which features Benj, his older brother Max, and Toby Segar — generated a fair amount of local online buzz when it was published on the group’s YouTube account last month.
Several local media outlets quickly picked up on it, with some marveling at trio’s athletic prowess, and other deriding the stunts as dangerous, careless and stupid.
Sitting down with Coconuts HK, the Cave brothers and their fellow Storror member Drew Taylor, whom they met in high school — took pains to emphasize the preparation time that goes into each video.
The finished clip, they said, was shot over four days and comprised five separate runs across rooftops in Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok. In one, they can be seen atop a famous TST icon.
“The building where we walked off the pipes and where we jumped from the hatch and then slid, that’s Chungking [Mansions],” said Max, 26.
Each run took about an hour to rehearse — from checking the surfaces of the rooftops and creating the choreography, to making sure each person is in the frame at the right time.
Their stunts, they insist, are not a reckless pursuit of thrills, views and likes — no matter how the end product appears.
“It’s easy to think [that], especially when you watch this last video and it’s three minutes long and you don’t see the preparation. It seems like we’re just doing it for a mad crazy rush. A lot of the time, it’s the complete opposite,” said Taylor, 24.
The trio say they were first exposed to parkour in the early-2000s via a pair of TV documentaries: Jump London (2003) and Jump Britain (2005).
They began copying what they saw on TV until YouTube arrived on the scene with its plethora of parkour videos and tutorials.
After practising the moves on sand pits, curbs, and playground for nearly five years, they eventually moved onto buildings.
From that point, they began discovering parkour communities around England, eventually hooking up with the other members of their group: Segar, Sacha Powell, Joshua Burnett Blake, and Callum Powell.
In 2010, they officially formed Storror and set up their own YouTube account, which has amassed more than 82 million views with videos of parkour routines they’re performed around the globe, including India, Bulgaria, and Spain.
Last year, they released their documentary Roof Culture Asia, which featured them traversing the rooftops of Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul while performing feats they called their toughest yet.
“All the stunts we did in there were the hardest that I had ever done, like mentally and physically. I think it would be the same for everyone,” said Max, as the others nodded in agreement.
Their stunts, it’s no surprise, generate controversy. First of all, accessing private rooftops sees them regularly confronted by authorities, though they have yet to face criminal charges.
In their recent Hong Kong clip, a security guard, after telling them “no” several times, lashes out and slaps one of the members.
Discussing the incident, the trio called the guard “a nutter” and said they were about to upload a clip on YouTube where viewers will hopefully see the “full story.”
Secondly, the videos draw accusations that their stunts influence others to act recklessly, an idea that they reject outright.
“We create videos for us and not anyone else,” Max said, an assertion that feels a bit strained given that the group’s videos are loaded onto a YouTube channel that boasts 825,000 subscribers to whom they market Storror-branded clothing and footwear.
Pretty sure this was made to be a climbing frame. #RoofCultureAsiaHong Kong RCA shirt available here – https://storror.com/collections/all
Taylor said the group discourages people with less experience from trying to copy their feats, which he said they can only perform “safely” after 12 years of practice.
That said, Max said viewers are able to assess their own limits.
“Most people like their life, so when they understand there is something out of their capability, they know to take a step back and say ‘I am not prepared to do that.” Because obviously your life is on the line and … each person has to make that decision for themselves and educate themselves.”
All three of the men say the constant challenge of learning and improving is what keeps them engaged in the sport.
It’s the “ability to overcome challenges that you choose yourself,” Taylor said.
“So the challenge today might be a gap between roofs, or the challenge might be a climb up a thing. The skill of parkour is [learning] how to overcome the voice in your head which tells you it’s scary, basically, or that it’s difficult. That’s what parkour is.”
Max, Benj and Toby back in Hong Kong again. Ready to shoot a fresh new POV for all you lot. The last time we were here…
So what’s next for the group? Benj said they’re planning on visiting Brazil and hope to squeeze a parkour routine in a favela.
As for a return trip to Hong Kong, the group said they’d like to come back some day, but are staying mum on exactly which buildings they plan on scaling next.
“Just in case they up the security,” said Max.