By Nick Murray
To observers it seems like child’s play. Some say it’s pure folly that will result in a serious injury. Others express admiration for it.
To the uncultured observer, it is a phenomenon that exists somewhere between a can-do mentality and an innate desire to commit suicide.
However, to the practitioner it is freedom. It is boundlessness. It is parkour.
The term is derived from the French language, translating roughly to mean “the art of movement.”
It is primarily a physical discipline in which the practitioners rigorously train their bodies with exercises conducive to a high level of athleticism that allows them to circumvent obstacles in their path.
An urban environment has proven to be most favorable for the practice of parkour due to the abounding presence of urban structures that practitioners like to navigate.
The goal of parkour in any particular instance is to get from point A to point B as efficiently and elegantly as possible.
Parkour is not a sport, contrary to false notions that many harbor. Rather, it is purely for the betterment of an individual in physical and mental regards, much like the martial arts.
Because it is a physical and mental discipline conceived apart from the element of competition, to marry competition to parkour would dilute it, distancing it from the nature of its origin.
Parkour originated as the “method naturelle”
invented by George Hebert before World War I.
Herbert was a former French naval officer who was influenced to create the method naturelle after witnessing the patterns of movement exhibited by members of native tribes during a visit to Africa.
This system of natural movement proved durable, and its tenets attractive enough to keep the discipline alive well into the 1980’
s when parkour was finally fully realized initially and truly in a group of nine young men known as the Yamakasi.
Among them are the recognized leaders of the parkour and freerunning movements respectively, David Belle and Sebastien Foucan.
At the heart of parkour is an altruistic self-awareness: “being strong to be useful.”
Honesty and genuine concern for others is valued. It is not an art dedicated purely to the refinement of the self. It would behoove many to study it further before terming it a nuisance or a display of childish idiocy.
Parkour has recently garnered much attention on the global stage but this large amount of attention has generated fallacy aplenty regarding parkour.
As someone who practices parkour and avidly studies new training methods, I can honestly say it affects the way one feels and thinks.
I’m still learning and don’t think there will ever be an end to the learning experience. Live free, run free.