PARKOUR is a physical discipline of french origin, derived from the term “parcours du combattant,” a type of military obstacle course training. At its core, parkour is the art of quick and efficient movement, utilizing techniques such as vaults, jumps, and climbs. However, as the discipline has developed, parkour (often used interchangeably with the term freerunning) has become associated with many aspects of movement and is considered by most practitioners to simply describe movement through an environment. Regardless of the definition used, practitioners (known as traceurs for males and traceuses for females) strive to express themselves through the creativity, fluidity, and physical beauty of their movement.
In the past decade, parkour has seen enormous worldwide growth, with communities forming in all parts of the globe. From parkour-specific classes and gym facilities to exposure in film and television, the discipline has captured the attention of audiences everywhere. Despite its common portrayal as a dangerous and extreme activity, the discipline puts strong emphasis on safety, conditioning, and gradual progression. Practitioners are always encouraged to start with strength training and practicing basics in a safe environment. Only when they have strengthened their body and mastered basic movements should practitioners continue to learn more advanced techniques.
Parkour’s physical demand is matched only by its mental involvement. It is commonly said that training is “20% physical and 80% mental,” and that oftentimes the most difficult obstacles to overcome are the ones in our own minds. Self-doubt and fear of commitment are the first hurdles a traceur faces, and only when these are overcome can they reach their full physical potential. Just as the physical training and conditioning involved in parkour will strengthen the practitioner’s body, the mental training is sure to transform them into a more confident, creative, and adaptable person in all aspects of life. For many people, parkour training is a way to reach a zen-like state where all external distractions can be blocked out and mental calm can be attained.
To find out more information about parkour and its history, visit its wikipedia page.