Parkour is a non-competitive sport that involves efficient movement around obstacles. Participants — called traceurs (males) and traceuses (females) — move through an environment, such as city streets, by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing, and jumping on, over or around obstacles.
The basic moves of parkour got their start long ago in the Eastern martial arts, like ninjutsu. In the 1920s, Georges Hébert began to teach these moves as part of French military training. Frenchman David Belle expanded on this work in the late 1980s when he founded the Yamakasi group, which was the first group dedicated to parkour.
The name “parkour” came from “le parcours,” which was the term David Belle’s father, Raymond Belle, used to describe his French military training. The classic obstacle course training method used by the French was known as “parcours du combattant.”
Parkour developed from a training method into a sport focused on gracefully overcoming obstacles within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment. Parkour is as much art as it is sport, as creativity and vision are as important as physical conditioning and strength.
Although parkour moves may look like dangerous tricks, the discipline actually discourages reckless behavior and dangerous stunts. Instead, it focuses on safety and personal responsibility. The parkour moves that look so easy when performed by professionals are actually difficult moves that only come about successfully after lengthy training and practice.
Although its development largely occurred in France, parkour is now an international discipline with traceurs and traceuses practicing all over the world. In the English-speaking world, parkour was given another name: free-running.
Today, though, parkour and free-running are often considered two different disciplines. Parkour is more rigid in its focus on never moving backward and being practical and efficient. Free-running, on the other hand, allows moves in any direction purely for artistic purposes.
One of the primary goals of parkour remains self-improvement and freedom from obstacles — either physical or mental. Traceurs and traceuses train to improve both their physical and mental health, while learning to function independently in their environment without the constraints of society’s usual thinking.
- Before you even think about trying parkour, you’ll want to make sure your muscles are primed and ready. What’s the best way to get your muscles ready for exercise? Stretch them! Do a variety of stretches that hit all your main muscle groups in your arms, legs, and back.
- After stretching your muscles, you’ll want to get your heart and lungs warmed up with some light and simple cardio exercise. You could do jumping jacks or jog around the block. If you have a jump rope, that’s also a good way to get your heart pumping for more vigorous exercise ahead!
- Ready to give parkour a try? Parkour can be dangerous for amateurs, so you won’t want to overestimate your abilities when you learn your first moves. The most important thing to remember is safety. Start slow and always stay in control. Never try to do something you can’t do comfortably and safely.
The parkour scene in James Bond’s Casino Royale could arguable be the best on screen display of spectacular Parkour !