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Parkour Terminology

Definitions of Parkour and Freerunning Activities

Parkour (pronounced par-KOOR): In the strictest sense as defined by David Belle, Parkour is the art of moving through your environment as swiftly and effectively as possible using only the human body. More broadly it might be defined as the discipline of developing the physical and mental capacity of the human being while through training to overcome obstacles. In practice Parkour is essentially the same as L’art Du Deplacement and most Freerunning. The difference in name has to do with David Belle’s focus specifically on the utility part of training.

L’art Du Deplacement: Literally, the art of displacement/forward movement. This is the term originally used for the training done by David Belle and his peers in Lisses, France before the term Parkour was invented. The practice is essentially identical to Parkour but the philosophy is more about developing the strength, courage, and capacity of the human being; utility and aesthetic movements are both important.

Tricking: In general, any sort of acrobatic stunts. In particular tricking refers to the discipline of martial arts tricking which takes the acrobatic elements of various martial arts, most prominently Wu Shu, Tae Kwon Do, and Capoiera, and combines them with elements of gymnastics and break-dancing.

Freerunning: Another term used for Parkour and L’art du Deplacement. Invented by Sebastien Foucan, the name follows from Foucan’s focus on the aspect of freedom offered by the training of this discipline. For many, the practice is not really different from Parkour or L’art du Deplacement, though some focus very much on aesthetic movements which is a departure from the core Parkour principle of utility.

3run/Freerun: A term used by Team Evolution to describe the combination of Parkour, acrobatics, and Wu Shu that they practice.

Common English Parkour Terms

NOTE: Some traceurs feel that the invention of many terms to describe different vaults and other movements creates a false image of Parkour – one where it is simply a list of moves you try to attain. The fundamental idea of Parkour is to overcome obstacles, not to achieve perfection in a specific set of defined movements. The terminology on this page is used for illustrative purposes to help convey a sense of some of the common techniques in Parkour.

Traceur: A practitioner of parkour.

Parkour Roll: Similar to the roll used in grappling martial arts. The body is rolled across the ground shoulder first, ending at the opposite hip. Arm placements differ person to person and school to school.

Vault: Any jump that incorporates the use of the arms to overcome the obstacle.

Cat Pass/Monkey/Kong Vault: A vault were the body passes over the obstacles with the legs in between the arms. This is called a squat over vault in gymnastics. One of the most versatile vaults; excellent for clearing long and high objects and getting extra distance.

Two-Handed Vault: Two hands are placed on the obstacle and the legs come over to the side. Known as a flank vault in gymnastics. This is a very simple fault and is often used to introduce beginners to some of the more advanced vaults.

Single-Hand Vault: Same as above, but only one hand is placed on the obstacle. Also called a flank vault in gymnastics.

Speed Vault: A variation of the single-hand vault, but as the name implies the key to the speed vault is speed. The form is similar to a hurdle over an obstacle, but with the body leaning sideways and the hand tapping the obstacle as you go over.

Arm Jump/Cat Jump: A jump were the traceur lands with his hands on the top of an obstacle and his feet on the obstacle.

Precision Jump: A jump where a traceur lands on a precise surface like a rail, or wall ledge. Generally refers to a standard standing broad jump technique. Both legs jump together and the arms swing forward to help initiate forward momentum.

Gap jump: Any jump that clears a gap between two objects.

Wall Pass: Technique involving running toward a wall and then converting the forward momentum into a jump. A wall pass involves taking one or more running steps up a vertical surface and catching on the top with your hands in order to pull yourself up and onto or over the obstacle.

Wall Run: A run along the top of wall.

Tic Tac: A technique were the traceur pushes of of one object with her foot to gain height and reverse momentum in order to overcome another obstacle.

Lazy Vault: A type of vault were the obstacle is approached obliquely and the legs pass over the obstacle first; one or two hands can be used, and are placed on the obstacle as the body passes over it.

Reverse Vault: A vault were the body turns over behind the hands completing a 360 over the obstacle.

Dash vault: A vault were the traceur jumps over the obstacle and puts his hands down as his legs pass the obstacle to help push him off.

Kash Vault: A vault which begins like a cat/kong but finishes like a dash. A squat through vault in gymnastics terminology.

Pop Vault: A vault were a foot is placed on the obstacle first to pop the traceur up and give her height to perform another vault, typically a kong or two-handed vault.

Underbar: A move were the traceur jumps feet first through an opening and grabs a bar at the top to aid him through.

Reverse Underbar: Same as above except the body goes through hands first, then turns so the feet can land first.

Common French Terms Used in Parkour

Parkour has its origins in France, so it should come as no surprise that a number of French terms are popular among traceurs. Using the French terms is often done as a sign of respect to the founders of the sport.

Passement: Any single or two hand vault

Passe Du Barrière: Synonymous with passement

Saut Du Chat: Monkey, kong or kash vault. Sometimes abbreviated s2c.

Demitour: Turn vault.

Passe Muraille: Wall pass.

Saut Du Bras: Cat jump.

Saut de précision: Perciscion jump.

Reverse: Reverse vault.

Roulade: Parkour roll.

Saut Du Fond: A jump from height.

Équilibre: Relates to any type of balancing.

Laché: A move were one swings from an object, releases and grabs another. Imagine a tree branch or scaffolding.