You might have seen people jumping from wall to wall, scrambling over buildings, springing off poles and throwing themselves all over the place. Well if you read this article, you’ll know more about why they’re doing it and what it actually is!
L’art du deplacement, Le parkour, Parkour, the art of displacement and Free running are some of the names they are known as, which changes at all times. It doesn’t matter what it is addressed as because they’re just labels. The content is the same.
Incredibly popular in the 1980’s in France, the Yamakasi (a group of French practitioners) brought parkour to the forefront of the public eye, though the approach goes back even further.
We head back years to meet the Western physical education expert, George Herbert (1875-1957), who could see that the body should be refined and should be able to move swiftly and fluidly. An efficient body, fuelled with grace and precision is a happy body.
The goal and the method of the sport is movement. Nothing but the movement. When the body interacts with the environment, it should be refined, and the movements should not be hampered by anything in its way. You can see an awesome video of free runners below, which is definitely worth checking out!
In technical terms, the person partaking in parkour (that was a few P’s, wasn’t it?) is a traceur, which in literal terms means “tracing” or “tracing a path”.
The only equipment or machinery that should be used in free running is the body. That is your tool – that and your mind.
The sport is aimed at improving the body’s strength and flexibility and coordination. Many exercises can be used to help train the traceur in such a way. Balance exercises and spatial awareness drills are the most common. Some traceurs even take part in night training, which can result in sensory deprivation.
Whilst not an extreme sport, it is incredibly popular with youths (in my youth, kids were into skateboarding and roller blading – neither of which I could do). Like any sport though it can cause accidents, the most common being broken bones.
The sport is incredibly popular with men but parkour communities are open to female traceurs.
Nowadays, ADAPT (Art du Deplacement And Parkour Teaching) is a qualification programme which means people are responsible for the health and well-being of others. The qualification aims to assist and help others better their bodies and their minds. To achieve the qualification, you must undertake a training course, including assessments, physical, verbal and written tests and live coaching seminars. Being an instructor is not easy, as incorrect practice or wrong techniques can lead to injuries which can even be life threatening.