My name is Jim Howes, I run the mixed school of disciplines Fight & Flight Academy. We run classes for Parkour/Freerunning (Flight Freerunning Association) and Karate (United Karate Association) as well as offering tuition in Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Kung Fu with the information coming direct from the Yang Family and Shaolin Temple. We teach students from 3 years old to adults and currently run classes across two counties in the UK.
It all started for me in August 1995 when I was 8 years old and a friend at school asked me to go to a karate class with him. From there I worked my way through the belts, competing in both kata (forms) and kumite (ﬁghting) along the way. By the time I was 13 I had many medals and trophies to my name and achieved my black belt that same year, in December 1999.
I had already begun teaching alongside my instructor, but in September 2002 I acquired my ﬁrst class. In January 2003 I won Silver in kumite at the Open International Championships at Crystal Palace. Things were looking pretty good for me, unfortunately however, 6 months later, the insurance rules changed and I was no longer allowed to teach until I was 18 years old. In this time I lost my focus and started spending my time socialising. I stopped competing and my training slowed down. Thankfully I was saved in 2005 when I discovered Parkour.
Working at the local Cinema I met a guy who had already been training Parkour since it ﬁrst arrived in the UK in 2003. We trained together many times a week, travelling down to London on a regular basis to meet up with other traceurs and train on the streets and buildings as there were not yet any ofﬁcial classes set up. In November 2007 I volunteered as a coaching assistant at one of the ﬁrst regular Parkour classes in the UK and soon became an ofﬁcial coach. In May 2008 I started up my karate classes once more. I began to run work place self defence courses and increased my own training by learning from Shi Yan Xiu, a true Shaolin Monk sent to this country by the temple in China to establish his own school and spread true Shaolin Kung Fu.
In 2010 the parkour classes I had begun doing as a volunteer were now run entirely by myself and I set in place the ﬁrst fully structured grading system for parkour/freerunning in England.
I have since had the pleasure of training with and working alongside Sebastien Foucan and members of the Yamakasi (the founders of parkour/freerunning), I have a good friend in Shi Yan Xiu and one of my karate students recently won bronze at the Under 21’s World Championships in Venice and he hopes to take his black belt in April 2014.
All things are possible, but only through time well spent.