A potted history of parkour


Parkour is the non-competitive physical discipline of training to move freely over and through any terrain using only the abilities of the body, principally through running, jumping, climbing and quadrupedal movement. In practice it focuses on developing the fundamental attributes required for such movement, which include functional strength and fitness, balance, spatial awareness, agility, coordination, precision, control and creative vision.

The word comes from the French 'parcours', which literally means, 'the way through', or 'the path'. What we now all know as 'Parkour' with a 'k' had its origins in a training program for French Special Forces known as 'Parcours du combattant', or 'The Path of the Warrior'. It was Frenchman David Belle, son of a Parcours Warrior and the 'inventor' of Parkour, who changed the 'c' to a 'k' and, formed the Yamakazi group.

According to the strictest definition, Parkour is the act of moving from point 'a' to point 'b' using the obstacles in your path to increase your efficiency.  A basic repertoire of moves developed over the years, like the 'tic-tac', the 'kong vault' and the 'gap jump' that make Parkour immediately recognizable to most people who see it, though it hasn’t been codified or formalised in to a sport.

The practice evolved from a strictly efficient system to incorporating other moves that looked good, such as flips, handstands and spins. Sebastien pursued this path and David Belle stuck with the purely efficient style and two different practices began developing side by side.

For a long time, people argued about the differences between Parkour and Freerunning but the new generation of practitioners who were inspired by YouTube added to the fledgling discipline with their own take on it, some in urban environments, some in nature.

Should there be competitions and should it be recognised as an official sport?
These are ongoing questions and time will tell how the practice evolves.

Parkour, fundamentally, is a philosophy, and a way a life. It’s a way of looking at any environment and believing in your heart that there is no obstacle in life that cannot be overcome. Everyone is a unique individual, so no two people will come up with the exact same solution, but there is a 'way through' for us all; the only way out is through.

It encourages self-improvement on all levels, revealing one’s physical and mental limits while simultaneously offering ways to overcome them. It is a method of training one’s body and mind in order to be as completely functional, effective and liberated as possible in any environment. The practice aims to build confidence, determination, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility for one’s actions. It encourages humility, respect for others and for one’s environment, self-expression, community spirit, and the importance of play, discovery and safety at all times.

- F

Do or not do; there is no try
— yODA