Take Flight Apparel has been going through quite a bit of turmoil lately. Their actions for the past few months have been increasingly alarming. Things came to a head late last April, when I reported on their acquisition of parkour.com and the subsequent disappearance of that site’s former content. The comments on that post led to Adam Dunlap, founder of Take Flight, offering to do an interview to explain – the only one he plans to do. Here it is, along with my analysis of his answers.
To get a really good grasp on everything we talk about, you’ll want to read DavidBelle.com and Take Flight Apparel and Goodbye, Parkour.com; Hello, Parkour.com, which document the history behind this.
Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?
Hi, my name is Adam Dunlap, and I’ve been doing Parkour since spring 2006. I’m the founder of Take Flight, and my past projects include MisterParkour.com and Revolution Parkour. I also manage the company Parkour 91 which is a management firm for Parkour entities and Traceurs.
There have been rumors circling for some time in the parkour world about you, Take Flight and David Belle, many of which have been negative. Why have you waited so long to address these concerns?
I agreed to do this interview because Alan from FlipYeahParkour.com asked. In all the drama and rumors that have transpired over the years he is the first person to ever ask for a real interview and real answers! Plus some of the rumors and drama have just gotten to be too much, and I wanted to speak publicly to reassure our fans and followers from around the world.
Alright then, let’s get started. Why do you own so many parkour-related domain names that redirect back to Take Flight’s various online presences? I did a count a few months ago, and you had 19 parkour domain names that had no relation to TF at all, including precisionjump.com, damedulac.com, and parkournews.com.
I like domains and have plans for all the domains I’ve registered. Most of them are in dormant stages until we can develop them, so we just have them forwarded as appropriate for the time being.
Can you give an example of one of these plans?
Well I haven’t finished developing any of them yet so I can’t give you examples! But the point of domains in general is to direct people to information that relates to it. So think of the name and you’ll get an idea of at least the conceptual vision behind it.
Considering parkournews.com redirects to it, why doesn’t the TF Facebook page share parkour news?
We do share news, but I’d like to share even more. If any organizations, groups, or individuals are interested in helping us accomplish that goal we’d love to hear from you!
Why did you buy MarkToorock.com and TimShieff.com without the knowledge of those people?
I bought those two domains because I respected those guys and wanted to work with them. Both myself and Take Flight were nobodies back then, and sometimes to get noticed you have to have something people want. They didn’t want the domains at the time or they would have purchased them before me. But I thought they would want them one day so I took the gamble and bought them.
Why did you put websites on those two domains and use them to promote Take Flight?
To get their attention. I was tired of waiting for them to notice us! And it worked in that regard, because they opened communication. But then it turned bad because Mark and Tim both jump to conclusions and it spiraled up into the drama it has become. Mark specifically blew the whole thing out of proportion and got lawyers involved and all that. It was really unfortunate, but what can you do. That’s life sometimes.
Are you aware that cybersquatting is a crime?
I am well aware of domain and cyber law, and we didn’t break any of laws. But even more importantly integrity and character extend beyond laws, and we acted responsibly in those regards too! We still hope to form relationships with these guys as we did with David.
When did you buy DavidBelle.com?
In 2008. I bought it from a domain company that was squatting on it!
When did you first meet David Belle?
October 2009. I flew to France to discuss David endorsing Take Flight. We got his endorsement, and it was after that trip that we changed our slogan to, “The Official Clothing of Parkour.”
But it’s only in the past few months that you’ve actually had David officially announce your affiliation. Why?
We announced it when the time was right. In life you have to search for answers – just like in your training in Parkour! And in our case the answers about us and David Belle, and really the answer about us in every capacity, have always public. Those that have been close to us or asked around found out long ago, which is why we’ve had so many great supporters even in the midst of so many rumors circling around.
What is the nature of your business relationship with David Belle?
I’m David Belle’s business and brand manager which is pretty all encompassing actually. Really the only thing I don’t do for him is negotiate film contracts. We are good friends, and I am really close with his family as well. I’m currently on an extended business trip to France, and I see David almost every day.
Can you tell us more about the background of parkour.com and the recent changes that took place on the site? Was the sites former content backed-up or saved?
I don’t know the history of the domain. All I know really is that Sébastien Foucan wanted to give the domain to David, and I was in charge of communicating with Sébastien and taking care of the transfer. Quite frankly we’d love to use the old content! But I’ve never spoken to the old managers aside from Sébastien, and due to some things that were said I was under the impression that they weren’t willing to let us. If they are willing we’d love to hear from them!
What is in store for parkour.com?
The site is going to be exactly what it says: the internet home and resource for Traceurs worldwide. Dream big and think about everything the world’s biggest Parkour site should have, and that’s what we’re going to make Parkour.com into. Community maps, resources, training tips, Parkour news, videos, and all the rest. If you can dream it we want to implement it. The site will also stay true to the roots of Parkour and the history and founding by David. How soon the site fulfills its destiny will really just depend on how soon the Parkour community rallies behind it.
If you own the domain and you pay for the hosting, then it’s your responsibility to either develop the site into something yourself, or else open-source it like Wikipedia. I wouldn’t expect anyone but myself to maintain flipyeahparkour.com.
I can’t say I quite understand the question. In this case I don’t own the domain, but I will be producing the site. That’s the responsibility David has delegated to me. David will continue to oversee it every step of the way as will the advisory team (currently 28 international Traceurs strong) and other members, affiliates, and contributors that we bring on.
When I originally heard that parkour.com had been shut down, the first thought that went through my head was that there was no longer any website for just parkour news. If I – or some other traceur with a history of being able to pull off something like this – wanted to put a news website along the lines of the old parkour.com on parkournews.com, would you be willing to cede over control of that domain?
I don’t particularly want to cede over the ParkourNew.com domain to anyone. But you don’t have to give a domain to someone to allow them to use it. Owning a domain and running a website are two completely different things! So if someone is interested in putting a site on ParkourNews.com I’d love to talk about them about the idea! And that goes for all the domains we control.
Take Flight Apparel is an LLC, not a nonprofit. However, you say that TF is “run as a nonprofit.” What does that mean?
We run it as a non-profit in the sense that ownership doesn’t make any money. In 4 years I’ve actually never been cut a check or been paid a penny from the company even though I’m also the primary financer of it! In that way the organization is kind of like a super expensive hobby, but the vision behind it and sharing Parkour is my passion so I love every moment of it.
Why do you think TF is the official clothing of parkour? Throughout his history, David Belle has refused to try to lead or rule the parkour community. Why does his endorsement make you the “official” clothing?
Take Flight is the official clothing of Parkour because we have the express endorsement of David Belle. David is the founder of Parkour, hence he has the right to deem what the official clothing is. Simple as that.
You and David have trademarked the word “parkour” for use on clothing in the USA, specifically shirts, hoodies, and pants. I’m interested in hearing why you did this, especially since you say that you don’t regard organizations like Move To Inspire that also produce clothing as competitors.
David wanted to protect Parkour on clothing so we did. Those that want to use Parkour on clothing need to get David’s approval now. That’s how it should have been from the beginning in all business facets. I’m sure David’s trademark will frustrate profit driven businessmen, but Traceurs should be happy for this. Give to Cesar what is Caesar’s is a phrase I like to say, and Caesar is back.
[Edit: The copyright is in the process of being challenged by at least two groups, American Parkour among them. According to the WFPF, Adam has not been granted a trademark, only filed an intent to use application that is unlikely to be granted. If it is, it will be fought by the WFPF and likely many other parkour organizations. I'm no longer worried about this copyright issue.]
According to the comment by an unnamed TF rep on my original parkour.com post, TF is “doing good things and spreading a good message in a good way.” What is this good message?
The message is two fold:
#1. Parkour. And when we say “Parkour” we mean the true Parkour which is Parkour by David Belle and all that comes with it. Encapsulated in this discipline are the ideas of honor, character, integrity, and a warrior spirit amongst other things. These are all powerfully positive ideas, and we share them as well when we share Parkour.
#2. The other message we’ve combined with Parkour is the message of hope and inspiration. This idea isn’t new by any means, but we use the context of Parkour to phrase it a bit differently than anyone else. For us it’s something like:
Pursue your goals, and don’t let people tell you you can’t make it. Believe in yourself and never give up. Follow your dreams and make them a reality. Look at the example of David Belle and the discipline of Parkour and what it teaches us. In that we see that what was once thought impossible is clearly possible. It’s the same with you and your life. If you are willing to work for it you too can accomplish your dreams.
Both these ideas are succinctly encapsulated in our slogan, “Jump. Fly. Dream.” and even more succinctly expressed in our name Take Flight.
Who is The Flight Man?
The Flight Man is anonymous, and I won’t reveal who manages him. But he has been managed by multiple people over the years, and he’s not currently managed by me.
The power that comes from The Flight Man is that he is neutral person that doesn’t have a face. Giving him one would turn him into a marketing tool, and although because of his name he does market Take Flight in a way, that is not his purpose. The purpose he has is to be a voice for Parkour and to be a personality that supports everyone in the community regardless of their affiliation. That’s the community mind behind what we do at Take Flight, and The Flight Man as an entity embodies that in every way.
Who else runs Take Flight?
We have a great team, but I won’t give names of specific directors or employees for confidential reasons. That’s up to each person to reveal if they desire.
Fair enough, protecting the privacy of your employees is a laudable impulse. However, I can go to just about any website of any major corporation and find out the names and contact information of the board of directors. To me, this humanizes and makes the corporation much more transparent and relatable. Right now, the only person confirmed to be involved in running TF is you. Just throwing that out there.
That’s true and I agree in many cases! But we do things differently, and our way is to let our product and message speak for our company. The three exceptions for various reasons are my name, David’s name, and of course the names of the Take Flight team of athletes.
Speaking of the TF team I have to give them a shout-out and a huge thank you for all they do both in association with us and individually! They add so much to our message and what we do, and we’re so thankful to be working with each and every one of them!
What do you think the future of parkour clothing is?
The future of Parkour clothing is like anything – it’s the next evolution. For Parkour clothing I think that means more comfortable, breathable, lighter, and more durable clothing. Plus some custom apparel concepts that allow Traceurs to set themselves apart with their own style and utility in training and in every day life. David has amazing ideas for designs including some amazing concepts for pants, shirts, and shoes etc. so we’re working with him to bring a lot of his ideas to life as well.
If TF is the “official” clothing of parkour, what is your view of other clothing companies using the word “parkour” on their clothing?
I think anyone who wants to use Parkour on clothing or in any business context should get the approval of David. I did this, and it’s the right way. The Traceur way. Give respect where it is due and choose the high road of integrity. In my opinion, anyone who does not get David’s approval to use Parkour in any business context is just profiting off of what he created.
Who designs Take Flight clothing?
We work with independent designers around the world. They are located in the US, Spain, the UK, Mexico, Australia, and a few other places too. David is in on designs too, but I don’t count him since he is more of a conceptual designer like I am. All our designers are Traceurs so it keeps the designs community centered in that they come directly from the minds of Traceurs. Plus it funnels money back into the community in yet another way since we obviously pay our designers.
Where do you see Take Flight in a year? In five?
The sky is the limit! We’re going to keep growing and doing what we’ve been doing. We also have plans for David Belle’s personal line as well as a Parkour shoe lined designed by him. If you want a visionary glimpse of our future look at our slogan “Jump. Fly. Dream.” and our name Take Flight. We are committed to embodying both these ideas in our growth and in what we do as we continue to grow.
Well, If you do make a parkour shoe, please please do not make it another Kalenji clone. We’ve already got the KOs (Gen’s 1 and 2), Parkour Generations’ Vision shoes, and now 3Run’s 360 Volts. Some innovation would be nice!
Don’t worry. They’ll be completely customized. Nike quality but with the David Belle experience and touch to make them Parkour specific. David won’t settle for anything less, and neither will I.
Why do you capitalize “parkour”? In English, only proper nouns (i.e., specific persons, places, or things) are capitalized. Parkour is no more of a specific thing than baseball or football.
Well actually I’d argue quite the opposite. Parkour is much more of a specific thing than baseball or football. Parkour is a unique training method founded by David Belle, and Parkour is the word David created and gave to his discipline, his training, and his movement. In my view that means it takes on the context like many martial arts and should be treated like a proper noun. David also always capitalizes the word, but I was capitalizing it long before I found that out.
I also always capitalize Traceur. I think it’s something we should all do. It just makes sense!
What are your thoughts on American Parkour?
I like the concept, but I don’t support the organization because of who is behind it.
[Note: Presumably because aforementioned Mark Toorock is the founder of American Parkour.]
Do you have anything else to add?
Just a huge thank you to all 42,500+ family members on the Take Flight Facebook page, plus all our fans, customers, and supporters around the world! The reasons we do what we do is for you, and the larger your support grows the more energy you give us to be able to bring bigger and better things to the community. And of course a big thank you to Alan Schexnayder of FlipYeahParkour.com for conducting this interview. I really like the FlipYeahParkour.com site and hope more people start following it and its message.
Thank you, Adam.
I really wanted this interview to present a new view of Take Flight and its management. I like a lot of things about TF – their general cheeriness, their willingness to give away tons of clothes, the fact that they share good videos all the time. There’s a lot of things to like about TF. However, much as I hate to say it, this interview did not impress me. Why?
Owning so many domains really is inexcusable. No other company does anything close to that. How would people react if Starbucks started registering every possible coffee-related domain?
Despite what he says, it’s fairly obvious that Adam has no plans for the majority of his domains. What does he plan on doing with damedulac.com? Is he going to pay to set up an informational website there? Unlikely. Is parkourforlife.com going to be a site dedicated to helping older people learn parkour? Probably not.
If he had admitted that buying marktoorock.com and timshieff.com was a stupid mistake on his part, I would have thought much better of him, because frankly, it was stupid. If you want to work with someone, common sense dictates that you don’t steal their stuff. Yes, those domains technically did not belong to them, but if you’re going to act with “integrity and character,” you should know that those domains belong to those people, whether or not they owned them according to ICANN rules.
Integrity and character are more important than laws? While this is true, everyone has a different definition of integrity and character. There is only one interpretation of the law, and if two people disagree, a judge will decide for them. This is a cop-out excuse. Adam, admit you were wrong to buy those domains and everyone will respect you for it.
Announcing the affiliation with David Belle over a year after you’ve had it? And then claiming that it was always public and anyone who really cared already knew? Why would they wait?
This does not add up. If a bicycle company got Lance Armstrong’s endorsement, they would announce it as soon as the ink on the paperwork was dry. It’s business. Take Flight, run as a non-profit or not, is a business. They have to make money to keep paying their employees. Being affiliated with David Belle gives them more credibility, more exposure, and thus, more money.
Don’t think Take Flight would do that? Look at the Parkour Dream Sweepstakes trip. If they got 100,000 Facebook fans, they would launch a contest to have a $5,000 trip up to Lisses for a fan to train with David Belle. The only reason they want Facebook fans is so that they can have an audience. Why does a business want an audience? To sell their products to that audience. This is basic business. Take Flight may be run as a non-profit, but they still need to make money.
His explanation of what the new parkour.com will be does not make me hopeful. If he can’t give specific details on his plans, he doesn’t have them. It will be a long time before parkour.com ever gets off the ground again. The fact that he doesn’t seem to feel that it’s his responsibility to develop the site is not promising.
Take Flight is not the official clothing of parkour. David Belle is not the ruler of the parkour community. He’s very important and a huge influence, yes, but he is not a ruler. He could have been, but he chose to not take that route years ago, and that door is closed now. It cannot be opened.
There is no ruler of the parkour community, therefore there can be no official clothing of parkour.
Trademarking parkour for use on clothing is only bad if he decides to start prosecuting those who use it. We’ll have to watch this closely.
Keeping the identity of the Flight Man and the TF board of directors secret is very strange. You can do a quick Google search and find out the names of anyone who sits on just about any company’s board of directors. This is called being transparent. TF is being very, very opaque right now.
He essentially said that everyone who has ever sold parkour in any way is stealing from David Belle. He used more subtle language, but that was the spirit behind his words.
“…anyone who does not get David’s approval to use Parkour in any business context is just profiting off of what he created.”
It appears that Adam has a vendetta against Mark Toorock, which came through in his comments on the original parkour.com post. His dislike of Mark also appears to be the reason he doesn’t like American Parkour.
His point about parkour being a specific thing is very debatable – I will concede that he has a decent point there. I will still be using “parkour” rather than “Parkour,” however. Among other things, it’s less pretentious. I could write a whole article on this, but that can come another day. This article is lengthy enough as it is.
I don’t like ending on a negative point, so I will leave Adam with 4 things he can do that could vastly improve his standing in the parkour community – or at the very least in my eyes.
Be more transparent
Take Flight has two names associated with it right now: David Belle and Adam Dunlap. The designers and athletes don’t count because they are not involved with actually managing TF.
People need to know who is behind Take Flight, or else the company looks like a dictatorship. It’s as simple as that. Just about every other company has the board of directors listed on their website. What about Take Flight? Nowhere to be found.
Give up the domain names
Take Flight doesn’t need them. TF’s ownership of them serves no purpose except to prevent other companies or individuals from having them. I wasn’t kidding when I said I intended to start a genuine actual parkour news website on parkournews.com – but if I do, I want it to be independent, not owned by a company that could have a stake in the news which this theoretical website reports. As for the rest of them – damedulac.com, precisionjump.com, and gotparkour.com among others – what can Take Flight do with them?
Release the domain names.
Buying marktoorock.com and timshieff.com was a mistake.
The David Belle endorsement was handled sloppily.
Staying silent about it was a mistake.
Promoting parkour.com before it was ready to be “The internet home and resource of traceurs worldwide” was a mistake.
Adam just needs to admit it. Everyone makes mistakes. Admitting them isn’t weakness, it’s maturity.
Be more responsive
As the CEO, founder, and public face of the company, Adam has a duty to at least try to make TF look good – and the way he’s currently going about it is ineffective. Letting rumors – true or false – spread while doing nothing to stop them isn’t Zen nobility, it is ridiculousness. No company or politician would ever let something as big as the David Belle endorsement fiasco go for so long without addressing it.
Adam Dunlap seems to be a genuinely good guy. Corresponding with him was enjoyable. I have no problem with him personally. His management of Take Flight is what needs to be fixed.
If Adam doesn’t start being more transparent, responsive, and generally more mature, TF’s reputation will deservedly continue to go downhill. If he does the things listed above, Take Flight Apparel could be immensely improved.