Pakistan’s Asim Khan is a freerunner, teacher, fighter, and above all, a survivor. When he was only six years old, he survived the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, a natural disaster that killed over 80,000 people and left 4 million homeless.
As traumatic as this event was for Asim, it instilled within the knowledge that life is fleeting, and he must accomplish all that he can with the little time he has. As a result, he has, at the young age of 23, built an illustrious career in sports, with parkour being his greatest passion.
Note: According to Encyclopedia Britannica, parkour, synonymous with free-running, is “the practice of traversing obstacles in a man-made or natural environment through the use of running, vaulting, jumping, climbing, rolling, and other movements.”
2005: Asim Khan Experiences a Life-Altering Catastrophe
The 2005 Kashmir earthquake altered the course of Asim’s life forever. Aside from being nearly killed himself, he lost friends and family members, including one brother and two sisters. In response to such trauma, many could have become pessimists. However, Asim would not let his brush with death define him.
He realized that life is fleeting, but instead of being depressed about this fact, he used it to guide him. Since the earthquake, he has been tenacious in pursuit of his passions, as he does not want to die without first achieving his goals.
Asim Khan Is Introduced to Parkour
Even prior to his introduction to parkour, Asim had a natural inclination towards athletics. From a young age, he practiced taekwondo and kickboxing, even winning a bronze medal in a national competition for the latter sport. But it was through taekwondo that he discovered parkour.
As “opening acts” for taekwondo competitions, free-runners would perform parkour stunts to warm up crowds. Upon seeing these athletes perform, something clicked within Asim, and he knew immediately that he wanted to learn parkour.
Parkour didn’t—and still doesn’t—have a huge following in Pakistan, so Asim’s taekwondo instructor advised against his learning it. However, after constant requests, he finally agreed to teach Asim some basic stunts. From here, Asim learned on his own, eventually becoming skilled enough to confidently identify himself as a free-runner.
Why Is Asim Khan an Everyday Hero?
While the performance of dangerous stunts is not “heroic” in and of itself, Asim’s heroism is rooted in his unwavering passion. Even in the face of criticism from his teachers and family, he continues to do what he feels he was born to. Additionally, his ability to turn negative situations into positives is something that anyone can learn from, as everyone’s path in life will eventually encounter tragedy.
Asim does not live merely for himself. He imparts his wisdom upon future generations through his work as a fitness instructor at a local school. His dedication, coupled with his charisma, has even inspired others to take up parkour; he has assembled a crew of other Pakistani freerunners who all teach and learn new stunts from each other.
What Challenges Does Asim Khan Face?
Being a freerunner is no walk in the park. Anywhere in the world, the sport is difficult to make into a sustainable career. Asim has resorted to taking on numerous side gigs to support himself and his family. Aside from being a fitness coach, he is also an actor, usually performing stunts for commercials.
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Additionally, Asim’s love for parkour worries some of his family members, his wife especially. The two have a baby on the way, and she fears that he will injure himself to the extent at which he will not be able to properly care for their child. This stress weighs on Asim’s mind as well, and he acknowledges that he will have to be more careful once his baby is born.
What Are Asim Khan’s Goals?
Only 23-years-old, Asim does not intend to quit freerunning any time soon. In fact, he wants to grow parkour’s popularity in Pakistan. He and his crew of about 20 people hope to one day open a club that teaches parkour stunts to locals, thus planting the seeds for the sport to spread.
He also wants to go deeper into acting, emulating his hero Jackie Chan. Because the film industry in Pakistan is not particularly prominent, he sometimes has trouble finding roles that are not for commercials.
However, he recently acted in a feature-length film, in which he performed a choreographed fight aboard a plane in motion, proving that he has what it takes to become an action star if the opportunity ever arises.
Asim Khan’s Thoughts on Heroism
Despite being young, Asim has lived through more than most people twice his age. As a result, he has gained significant wisdom, especially when it comes to heroism; he believes that a hero should work not only for themselves, but for the betterment of the world.
He considers himself a hero because he has been able to accomplish many of his goals, through sheer force of will, as he did not—and still does not—have many of the resources afforded to people of more privileged backgrounds.
To his audience, he says, “Stay strong, be positive. Do what you want before it’s too late.”