STARTED IN PARKOUR
It may look easy, but to be good at parkour takes dedication,
discipline and practice. Traceurs (those who practice
parkour) have worked hard for a number of years to perfect
their fitness and technique. But this dedication never
stops, parkour is a constant work in progress. A great
place to start is to watch a master in action.
The personal benefits you can enjoy are boundless. Apart
from getting fit and healthy, the friendships formed
can last a lifetime. Parkour is about camaraderie and
even if there is no-one in your immediate area to train
with, you will find hundreds of parkour communities
on-line, all with members willing to offer help and
To find a parkour crew in your area either visit our
globalconnect page or join in with the forums. If you
still have trouble, send us an email and we'll put you
in touch with your nearest crew.
Unlike other sports, Parkour does not require expensive
equipment, but you do need a solid pair of sneakers
that will not let you down. Worldwide JAM has a new
product review page that could be helpful in making
the right selection.
To the untrained parkour can be dangerous. When you're
starting out, always find someone to train with, preferably
someone who is very experienced. Most importantly NEVER
BE DARED TO GO TOO FAR. Experienced traceurs have
no time for newbies who just want to show off to their
mates. If you're not ready to attempt a move, an experienced
traceur will tell you. If you don't listen, you won't
be invited to train with him, her or them again.
Do your research
Ask any experienced traceur and they will tell you that
to understand parkour, you really need to do your homework.
The section below is only a breif outline but there is
a tremendous amount of information on the net.
obstacles can be anything in one's environment, so parkour
is often seen practiced in urban areas because of many
suitable public structures that are accessible to most
people, such as buildings and rails. A traceur is a participant
is a physical discipline of French origin in which
participants attempt to pass obstacles in the most
smooth and fluid manner possible, using skills such
as jumping and climbing, or the more specific parkour
founder of Parkour - David Belle
BASICS A step by step guide to Parkour moves
Parkour is an art form of human movement, focusing on
uninterrupted, efficient forward motion over, under,
around and through obstacles (both man-made and natural)
in one's environment. Such movement may come in the
form of running, jumping, climbing and other more complex
The goal of practicing le parkour is to be able to adapt
one's movement to any given scenario so that any obstacle
can be overcome with the human body's abilities.
According to founder David Belle, the "spirit"
of parkour is guided in part by the notions of "escape"
and "reach" that is, the idea of using physical
agility and quick thinking to get out of difficult situations,
and to be able to go anywhere that one desires.
However, fluidity and beauty are also important considerations;
for example, Sébastien Foucan, a traceur who
trained with David Belle during the infancy of the art
speaks of being "fluid like water," a frequently
used metaphor for the smooth passage of barriers through
the use of parkour.
Similarly, experienced traceur (parkour practitioner)
Jerome Ben Aoues explains in the documentary Jump London
"The most important element is the harmony between
you and the obstacle; the movement has to be elegant
.If you manage to pass over the fence elegantly
- that's beautiful, rather than saying I jumped
the lot. What's the point in that?"
To some people (particularly non-practitioners), parkour
is an extreme sport, to others a discipline more comparable
to martial arts. Some consider it a combination of the
two, recognising similarities between parkour and the
stunts and techniques of Hong Kong martial arts star
Jackie Chan, whose fight and chase scenes take place
in industrial or urban environments. Still others see
it as an art form akin to dance: a way to encapsulate
human movement in its most beautiful form. Parkour is
often connected with the idea of freedom, in the form
of the ability to overcome aspects of one's surroundings
that tend to confine - for example, railings, staircases,
The practice of parkour requires considerable physical
and mental dedication, and many adherents describe it
as a "way of life." Parkour is art in motion.
To find out more about parkour moves:
Practitioners of parkour are known as traceurs, a term
of French origin. The names free running and free runner
have been very frequently adopted by the English language
media as a result of their use in the television documentary
Over time, free running has also been widely used by journalists
to describe activity that is parkour-like, but that has
often placed more emphasis on 'showy' moves that are not
normally a feature of pure parkour.
Arguably, the movements of parkour are as old as mankind.
In the Jump London documentary Sebastien Foucan says,
Free running has always existed, free running has
always been there, the thing is that no one gave it a
name, we didnt put it in a box. He makes a
comparison with prehistoric man, to hunt, or to
chase, or to move around, they had to practice the free
Inspiration for parkour came from many sources, one of
which is the Natural Method of Physical Culture
developed by George Hébert in the early twentieth
David Belle was introduced to this method by his father
Raymond Belle, a Vietnamese soldier who practiced it.
The word Parkour derives from parcours du combattant,
the phrase referring to the obstacle courses of Héberts
method. The younger Belle had participated in activities
such as martial arts and gymnastics, and sought to apply
his athletic prowess in a manner that would have practical
use in life.
After moving to Lisses, Belle continued his journey with
others. From then on we developed, says Foucan
in Jump London, And really the whole town was there
for us; there for free running. You just have to look,
you just have to think, like children.
This, as he describes, is the vision of Parkour.
According to Foucan, the start of the big jumps
was around the age of fifteen.
Over the years as dedicated practitioners improved their
skills, their moves continued to grow in magnitude, so
building-to-building jumps and drops of over a storey
became common in media portrayals, often leaving people
with a slanted view on the nature of Parkour. In fact,
ground-based movement is much more common than anything
The journey of parkour from the Parisian suburbs to its
current status as a widely practised activity outside
of France created splits among the originators. The founders
of Parkour started out in a group named the Yamakasi,
but later separated due to disagreements. The name 'Yamakasi'
is taken from Lingala, a language spoken in the Congo,
and means strong spirit, strong body, strong man
There are fewer predefined movements in parkour than
gymnastics and other extreme sports, in that parkour
is about unlimited movement over obstacles; the ability
to improvise is as important as being able to replicate
previously practiced moves.
Despite this, there are many standard "basic"
movements that many traceurs practice. Most important
are good jumping and landing techniques. The roll, used
to limit impact after a drop and to flow easily into
the next movement, is often stressed as the most important
move to learn.
Vaults are used to clear solid obstacles and come in
many forms. Some recognised types of vaults add only
technical skill (and hence sometimes aesthetic value)
to a move and often not functionality, even sacrificing
functionality for a more impressive look.
These tend to be looked down on, as they are inefficient
movement and thus not truly Parkour. Many vaults are
maximally functional to certain situations, but learning
specific vaults is not as worthwhile as learning to
improvise and adapt to differing situations.
For clearing gaps a number of methods are generally
used; each is dependent on the particular obstacle in
question, and as with the vaults a good improvisation
technique aids traceurs far more than a pre-learned
collection of techniques.
Tricks, such as flips, are a topic of much debate amongst
traceurs. Most experienced traceurs agree that since
flips merely add to the aesthetic value and are rarely
the most efficient way of passing an object, they are
not parkour. Newer, poorer informed traceurs tend to
argue that parkour is about being free to move how one
wishes and try to incorporate certain tricks into their
style of movement, however this violates the defenition
of Parkour as efficient movement.
This confusion is often due to confusion with l'art
du deplacement as practiced by the group Yamakasi. L'art
du deplacement consists of total freedom of movement,
Parkour on the other hand is about efficient movement.
Flips however are accepted in Free Running as Free Running
places more emphasis on aesthetics.
David Belle has since released a statement declaring
in no uncertain terms that Parkour is about efficient
movement, and therefore flips and tricks are (in almost
all cases) not Parkour. In this statement Belle also
clarified that Free Running and Parkour are two different
arts, Free Running being one in which visual flair is
also a goal, parkour being soely focused on efficient
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