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Parkour History

The earliest form of Parkour in history was defined by Georges Hebert, a naval officer in the French army who served both during World War I and World War II. Because he was a soldier, he often traveled to Africa, where he was impressed by the efficient, flowing athletic movements of most of the African tribes he visited. After he had returned to France, he began to develop a method of natural movement for officers serving in the military, in which both men and women were trained to move efficiently and fluently around a wide variety of obstacles in their path. The discipline called “méthode naturelle” started to be regularly taught in the military, setting the stage for the later development of Parkour.

The inventor of Parkour

The most well-known founding figure of Parkour is David Belle, who learned about the méthode naturelle discipline by his father back in the 1980s. The group he trained in came up with the term “parkour,” which came from “parcours du combattant“, an obstacle course used to train soldiers of the French military. Parkour is also acknowledged as “l’art du déplacement“, which French for “the art of displacement,” and some people just call it “PK.” A person who practices Parkour is generally known as a traceur, or a traceuse if she is female.

What is Parkour, exactly

The purpose of Parkour is about getting from one place to another in the most efficient manner possible. In theory, parkour is about learning to navigate obstacles quickly in an emergency situation. Parkour trainings allow people to negotiate obstacles on an individual basis and decide on the best method for getting passed them, based on the type of obstacle, the physical abilities of the traceur, and the situation. There is an emphasis on fluid, limber movements, and training sometimes includes instruction in the martial arts.

Parkour in the mainstream

This discipline began to fall into the mainstream in the 1990s, when some films were made about Parkour history and its philosophy. Some practitioners have expressed unhappiness with the growing popularity of the sport, especially since Parkour can be dangerous if it is practiced by someone who has not received appropriate training. The training includes flying leaps, jumps, and other physically demanding moves which can look terribly flashy, but also be risky.

How to start practicing Parkour

If you are interested in seeing parkour in action, many capital cities have Parkour teams that perform periodic demonstrations. These groups also provide training in parkour to persons who are interested in learning more about the discipline. Parkour is certainly a refreshing and sometimes hugely enjoyable way to get active and build a better relationship with your own body and the environment around you; why jog on the streets when you can fly through an obstacle course through your own city?

  1. Zac

    October 18, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Parkour is frakin awesome!!

  2. yazza

    December 18, 2011 at 6:05 pm


  3. sharpzon

    February 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    why jog on the streets when you can fly through an obstacle course through your own city?

    I totally loved the phrase. 🙂

  4. sharpzon

    February 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    i would love to learn parkour but it is hard to find it in mexico .

    • chris

      March 13, 2012 at 1:56 am

      you dont need to find it. parkour is what u make it, rather jumping over a car or watever. a simple wall flip or round off shows parkour

      • ParKevin

        September 6, 2012 at 3:04 am

        Woooaaahhh! Sorry to say but a wall flip and a round off are not elements of parkour. Not really even free running. Tricking would be more appropriate. Freerunning is a combination of tricking and parkour where parkour is pure efficient movement as described by David Belle.

        I don’t really care what you title a video or anything just so long as it’s not completely wrong and you know the difference.

        • Dan Dinu

          September 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

          Most people tag Freerunning, Tricking and acrobatics as Parkour nowadays. Most people have actually started to call it just “movement”.

  5. Mr. Pink

    April 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Parkour has changed my outlook on how i see the world ever since i started doing it 2yrs. ago i now see the world as an obstacle course and i am but a mere player running the course.

    • Dan Dinu

      May 31, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Nice outlook. Never actually thought of my training as a video game.

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