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GETTING 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.

PARKOUR BASICS

Benefits
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 guidance.

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.

GLOBALCONNECT
EMAIL US

Equipment
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.
EQUIPMENT REVIEWS


WARNING
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.

Parkour 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 moves.
The 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 of parkour.


The founder of Parkour - David Belle

Worldwide jam, street team member, Andi, goes through the basics of parkour moves. click here to view PARKOUR BASICS A step by step guide to Parkour moves with Andi
PARKOUR BASICS 2

 

WHAT IS PARKOUR
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 techniques.

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 that:
"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, or walls.

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.

PARKOUR MOVES

To find out more about parkour moves:


TERMINOLOGY
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 Jump London.

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.

HISTORY
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 didn’t 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 run.”
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 century.

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 Hébert’s 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 that
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 involving rooftops.

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
 

IMPLEMENTATION
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 movement.










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Photo of guy strapping on his trainers before starting parkour GETTING STARTED IN PARKOUR
Parkour Basics 1
Worldwide jam, street team member, Andi, goes through the basics of parkour moves. click here to view A GUIDE TO PARKOUR
BASICS
PARKOUR BASICS 2
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