Meet Jean-Marc Johannes, who at the age of 12 won his first Pro/Am contest and hasn’t looked back since. In 2011 Jean-Marc qualified to compete on the international circuit, as the only South African skateboarder. He made the top 50 in Europe and then the top 80 out of 200 in the world chosen to compete in the USA Tampa Am in 2013. In 2014 he qualified to compete at the World Skateboarding Championship in Kimberley, and upon his first appearance in the Pro open, he achieved a top 20 ranking. Jean-Marc was selected as a WILD card in 2015 to compete as the only South African skateboarder in the FISE World Series in Chengdu, China where he qualified in the top 10. He also recently had the opportunity to have been debuted as the first South African skateboarder on Tony Hawk’s channel (RIDE channel) to end off 2015. Now Jean-Marc is looking forward to competing in all other stops in 2016. You can catch Jean-Marc on the last Monday of every month on Good Hope FM with DJ Ready D.
We thought that Jean-Marc would be the perfect candidate to explain to us ladies what the psyche behind skateboarding is. This article may help you understand your man a little more when he hangs with the guys a little too much. Ed
Skateboarding in my opinion is an art form, outside of the stereotypical views it has. At the first sight of it at the age of nine years old, I immediately took to it and wanted to be able to be as free as the guys I saw doing it every day. I fell in love with everything about it: the endless tricks, the brands that were within skateboarding, the videos and the way everyone related to one another like one big family.
In this day and age it’s more than what it was in the beginning. A lot of guys take up skateboarding not necessarily to compete or turn professional but more for its lifestyle. I think it’s safe to say there is a certain level of exclusivity that goes with the sport. For example, you won’t find skateboarding apparel in malls but rather in exclusive skate shops. This makes a lot of people who see skateboarding for the first time become attracted to the lifestyle first, before they start thinking of tricks and coming to terms with the competitive side of it. Since skateboarding is now one of the biggest competitive sports in the world, it will very easily trend far beyond its borders, from celebrities to music videos with artists like Lil Wayne, and it can only go further.
Skateboarding is also a means of transport to most guys – I can fully vouch for that as I used it for transport when I just started. I never really knew how to do anything other than ride safely to school and back, but eventually I wanted to know and do more with it. I think this happens more often than not; not everyone gets on a board with the intention to go pro. We all see the fun behind it before we see anything else. This is, in my opinion, the most important factor, and one factor that can be easily forgotten when it becomes competitive and there is financial gain involved.
This is a street-orientated sport, and I believe guys like it because of that aspect. There are no rules, there is no right or wrong way to skate, and there is no specific way you should dress, talk or act to be a skateboarder. Once you get on a board and you seem to find yourself enjoying every second of it, then you become part of a big family.
Once we pass all the need-to-know points of skateboarding, respect all the building blocks, and master the fundamental aspects, the potential of what you are able to do with it is unlimited. There is an endless list of tricks and spots around the world that have yet to be discovered. It’s a constant adventure for us all. Every day we are able to learn something knew or go somewhere we have not gone before; this is why I always call it an art form. Art like dance or a few other sports on wheels have not been conquered or mastered; there is no such thing as the best because it progresses every day, and to most guys who skate to get better or compete it’s like running a race without a finish line. There is no competitor to beat besides yourself; every trick you land is a sense of self-satisfaction that only the rest of the world of skateboarding can relate to because we all are in the same boat and we all start the same way.
Social media has taken over not only the world of social interaction but also the world of skateboarding. It basically revolutionised the way it is portrayed. Skateboarding has daily trends now, hashtags that give credibility to images and videos that most likely took hours or days to achieve. There are a lot of people who utilise these trends.
For skateboarders, being sponsored is the next big step in a skateboarder’s career and one way to achieve this is to get recognised. Before social media, skateboarders would film at least a three-minute video, possibly on VHS, and leave it at the local skate shop or give it to someone who knew someone who could hook you up. Now we basically have an open platform to upload and share to a much wider audience. The entire world is on social media and when something happens for the first time that nobody has ever seen on a board, the whole world watches.
Skateboarding originally had a rebellious stigma attached to it and a lot of the time skateboarders would be fined by authorities or chased away by people who saw it as a negative act. The other reason guys take to it is the positive impact. Skateboarding has filtered in some way or another to people who are mostly faced with challenges, gangsterism and substance abuse. Kids who grow up in this environment take to skateboarding because it keeps them out of and away from possible danger that they face on a daily basis; it’s something they can do with their friends, and they can go to a skate park and enjoy themselves every day as opposed to being in an environment that is harmful to them.
Core and mainstream brands approve this and encourage guys to pick up a board every day and be free from the challenges they face. I believe one of the greatest things about skateboarding is that it teaches many lessons in life and can easily mould someone into the person they are today, like me.
Everyone knows skateboarding is not the easiest thing to do. Even as little as balancing on a board can come across as impossible at first, but every step of the way we learn that we are going to fall no matter what, but you get up and attempt it again until you get it right. From this we set ourselves goals within our own capability, some of us could set higher goals than others depending on experience but the principle of skateboarding never changes. Once you realise that you don’t only have one shot at learning a trick and you can keep going as long as you want to until you achieve a desired goal, this kind of mindset that you come across as a skateboarder on a daily basis will surely impact and filter into every other part of your life.
We become goalsetters; we won’t give up until we get it right. It’s an addictive feeling to achieve the impossible and this makes simple things in life seem easy; it’s like the saying that goes ‘no pain, no gain’. This is not just meant for skateboarding, but for every other part of life, sport or chasing a dream.