What is Parkour?

Parkour is a method or lifestyle to get strong physically and mentally and to be able to adapt to any situation and overcome obstacles in life. It involves various techniques that require many years of training, hard work and experience to attain perfection. It is a non-competitive activity that has no specific age limit or eligibility.

Definition and Explanation

To a viewer, the goal of Parkour is to move from point A to point B across a landscape in the fastest way possible. The practitioner uses the most efficient movements possible to cross obstacles. These movements include running, vaulting, rolling, climbing and jumping with great accuracy and control. Practitioners of Parkour are generally called traceurs. The word was coined as they ‘trace’ a path through an urban environment.

Parkour is by no means an ‘original’ art. It is derived from many disciplines and skillsets that have developed over millennia. Perhaps the most influential are the ‘Methode Naturelle’ way of physical training, Military obstacle course training, Gymnastics and the East Asian martial arts. Since most all of these disciplines included a philosophical point of view as part of their training, so does Parkour.

Perhaps the entire philosophy behind Parkour can be summed up in one small sentence. Be Strong To Be Useful.

Short History Lesson

Parkour in its modern form was developed by a group of kids in the suburbs of Paris, France. Guided by a renowned firefighter and proponent of the Methode Naturelle way of training, Raymond Belle, his son David and his friends found themselves training from a very young age to run, jump, climb and traverse spaces that normal people would find daunting. They did it for fun, but they took their fun seriously.

To make a long story short, they got popular in their local news, made videos and the new ‘urban sport’ started getting visibility across the globe. Videos of young men blasting across urban landscapes, with ease and grace captured the imagination of youngsters everywhere.

The era of user-created videos and Internet bulletin boards helped fuel the fire as people exchanged ideas, training methods and started meeting up and forming communities. Parkour is as much a phenomenon of the Internet as it is of youngsters rebelling against established norms (albeit for seemingly reasonable purposes).