Feature Athlete 12: Danilo Di Gregorio a.k.a GHOST-Part 1/2

Ghost’s movement truly feels like watching choreographies characterized by high energy, precision, and flow through functionality. Indeed, each of his moves seems to be connected in a technically masterful way, which ends up looking like a primal and free form of dance through concrete obstacles. Although the high technicality of his jumps and climbs is evident, he also has an extremely playful approach to movement. His training is often creative and explorative, you can definitely see how he makes the most of the space surrounding him, ranging from extremely fast runs and lines, to controlled and intricate climbs. I highly recommend watching his videos in order to truly understand the quality and aesthetics of his movement, and grasp the style of this athlete. 

Ghost

Ghost also has a very inquisitive and curious mind, which, paired with his extensive experience allowed him to gain a lot of insight into the parkour world. If you are curious to know this side of him, and his experience in parkour, keep on reading. 

So let’s start with a classic question, what’s your name, how old are you and how long have you been training?

Danilo: My name is Danilo Di Gregorio, but many people know me as Ghost. I am 31 years old and have been practicing parkour for the past 15 years. Basically, I have spent half of my life fighting with gravity.

Un Uomo Ozioso ( 2015 ) from @ghost89parkour

Do you have other passions apart from parkour, which might also connect to it?

Danilo: Yes I do. Other passions of mine besides parkour, and they have always had some connection with my personal practice. My practice of spirituality (non-religious), the composition of poems, hiking, wood carving, and studying English (which on a second thought I wouldn’t really call a passion).

How did you get into parkour and what inspired you to start this journey?

Danilo: In any case, in the spring of 2005, I saw the movie Yamakasi on TV, and without exactly understanding what it meant, I gathered some friends and we immediately tried to imitate the movements that those guys performed. We trained in the park in our town, between benches and small walls. At the time, I didn’t have Internet, and as a consequence I couldn’t grasp and understand that this was discipline in all its facets. In any case, I was hooked by this style of movement, which provided me with the opportunity to move as I wanted, where the only limit was my imagination, no fields delimited by a line, no games’ rules to follow, and above all, no opponents to defeat in order to win. Particularly, the latter was the aspect of other sports that I least liked. Having found something so radically different from any other activity was a revolution for me. In the following months, I took my training more seriously, I started to find some online forums in Italian, where guys from all over Italy who, like me, had this passion and who wanted to understand more, and who also met, discussed, exchanged advice and impressions.

It was on these online forums where it was decided to organize the first gatherings. So, I started travelling with little money, and even without a sleeping bag. I went to meet other people in other distant cities, learning everything I could, and each time I returned home, I tried to put what I learned into practice. It was hard, but at the same time, it was very beautiful.

Istanti from @ghost89parkour

Later on, the first official organized gatherings started to happen, where the founders themselves, or other great practitioners, were the main guests. From 2006 and 2007 I attended all the gatherings I could. And in this way, I had found my way, and not only that, more importantly, I had found a community, people like me looking for something of meaning. I used to be a solitary person, who had difficulty making friends, through these encounters, I started to have friends all over Italy. All the people I met at gatherings, were other guys like me who were looking for information, answers … I guess, a method, a way to understand what this discipline was at its core, how to train, what was the ultimate goal, what mistakes to avoid, and so on.

So you have been moving for quite some time now, have you developed a personal philosophy of movement?

Danilo: My philosophy of movement… not an easy question. Reading the blog of legendary practitioners such as Blane and Gato (he was one of the first practitioners in Italy. He also was a teacher and a dear friend of mine, who passed away in January 2019 due to an illness) I started asking myself questions, and understanding that my parkour could not be just a sport, but that I would have to dig deep in order to understand what was the path to follow.

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CECI N'EST PAS UN PARCOUR. IT: questo non è solo un percorso. È il simbolo del fuoco che ci anima…una giornata iniziata malissimo, con strani incubi, ansia, dubbi e malessere. Un senso di oppressione al plesso solare. Sapevo che avrei avuto il corso, stasera. Umidità, disagio, gente che spaccia e beve. Ma poi un vecchio compagno di battaglie è venuto a muoversi un po', mi ha dato una mano con la lezione e mi ha spronato a muovermi. Il risultato è questo percorso. Solo in apparenza banale. Questi pochi movimenti rappresentano una lotta e una vittoria piccola ma decisiva sui dubbi, sulla mancanza di fiducia e sul dare fiducia ad un amico che crede in me. Non è l'amico dalle parole gentili. Non è l'amico che ha tutte le risposte, ma ha quelle che contano. 10 anni di battaglie insieme, @mehdi_sys , cos'altro dire! "Un uomo che ha scelto il proprio cammino senza gesti clamorosi per sentirsi qualcuno." Cit. EN: it was a really, really hard day. Full of doubts, strange daymare, anxiety etc. But thanks to a brother in arm for the past ten years, i remembered who i am and parkour can give me. Maybe he's not the kindest friend with gentle words when i need it….but the friend with the right words in the right moment. this simole route represents a struggle and a victory against daily doubts, fears and difficulties. the fire of our discipline will save us if we want to save ourselves. #parkourvarese #zen #oldschoolparkour #parkour #artdudeplacement

A post shared by Danilo Di Gregorio (@ghostdanilo) on

Ghost training taken from @ghost89parkour

So I started writing a blog (link) in 2009 where, like in a diary, I share with those who want to read my emotions, impressions, joys, and defeats. In the end, I realized that my philosophy is a journey. Which does not have its ultimate goal in pure athletic performance (even if it is nonetheless important). Sports performance, the height of the jumps, the length of a gap on a roof, the effort of doing thousands of muscle-ups, have an important value. However, I understand that they lead to something else… at least for me. Not just an end, but rather I regard them as a mean to achieve personal liberation. A release from momentary fashions, from prejudices and pride. A means of reaching the truth, and also, for being the only old man, sitting in that corner of the bar able to open a jar of pickles.

Could you describe to me how you put this philosophy into practice?

Danilo: A few simple points form the pillars of my practice are: consistency, graduality, courage, cold blood, acceptance of the fact that it is not possible to do everything, but that this must not be an excuse for not working on it. There are no movements that I don’t consider. Big jumps, small jumps, physical strengthening, mental challenges, flips … they are all useful means for those who want to express themselves in the art of movement. My research is that of an art lover who studies all the schools, all the styles but not with the ultimate goal to imitate splendidly Van Gogh, or Mirò, rather, aiming at being able to express himself sincerely. With a little training it is easy to make really impressive moves, which gain visibility on social networks and the admiration of many people. But to express yourself sincerely, away from the spotlights, from the races, from the temptation to do something for the approval of others, that is more difficult. And that’s what I’m aiming for.

Let us do a small jump into the past, is there any particular achievement you are proud of?

Danilo: I think the result of which I am most proud is not a particular leap, or a physical challenge that I managed to achieve, but rather the change that I have managed to make over the years. As a lonely and introverted kid, I worked hard through my workouts, and ultimately the path I took led me to become a better person. All the jumps, all the victories, and the many defeats taught me to look inside myself. They allowed me to ask myself who I was, what I was doing, how I could, through such physical discipline, become not only a better athlete than yesterday, but also, a better person than I was yesterday.

Irea parkour Jam taken from @ghost89parkour

Back to the present then, how have you coped with the current coronavirus crisis and lockdown? How did you deal with this obstacle?

Danilo: The coronavirus lockdown has been an interesting challenge for me. I was previously used to always training outdoors in the mountains, hence it was difficult to accept to stay at home. It was even more difficult to remain positive.

During the quarantine I had so much free time, the factory where I work was closed, and all the parkour courses were suspended. Filling up my day was not always enough to avoid overthinking. The challenge was to accept serenely that I don’t have the power to change everything, but I have the power to be positive and strong even in this kind of situation. After all, it was another challenge, like many others.

Ghost Solo Training taken from @ghostdanilo

In the end, I organized a daily routine where I made room for training those weak links that I usually don’t pay attention to due to laziness, along with cleaning the house, reading, studying English, and meditation. For now (early days of May) here in Italy you can, with great prudence, start going out and train, so now it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and ice creams, two things that are not lacking in Italy.

Since we are now able to go out training again, what spots in your area would suggest?

Danilo: I have been training for a long time in Varese and its province. Depending on the season I alternate spots, I train a lot in Piazza Repubblica (Varese), in Malnate, Maccagno (Lago Maggiore); Valganna where there are big smooth rocks where you can leap from. I love also spending time in the mountains, all the ones around here, as well as the ones in Piemonte and Switzerland.

Future goals?

Danilo: Future goals? Maintain a sustainable practice over time. This also changes over time, adapting to changes in my body and the evolution of my interests, both motor and personal. Without a doubt, to remain physically active, to challenge myself, to learn new skills not only parkour-specific one, as I am already doing. 

Ghost

To be continued…In Part 2, Danilo tells us his view on how the Parkour scene has changed in Italy over the years and the difference between the orginal form and the present day form of parkour and more.

To find more about Ghost (Danilo):

Sources:

©World of Parkour

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