Artist that appreciates urban form, urban revolt or art? Our built form and urban designs do influence development of younger generations. If not properly planned concrete structures can replace open spaces, trees, grass and birds.
If you see someone running, jumping over park benches and other urban structures, and using his or her surroundings for propulsion to maintain their momentum, chances are, that person is a practitioner of parkour. Parkour (pronounced as par-core) is a training discipline or a method of physical training that develops one’s ability to overcome both physical and mental obstacles. It involves physical movements that could help people in case they find themselves in an emergency situation.1
Originating in France and dubbed as the “Art of Flight” by its practitioners, the aim of parkour is basically to go from one place to another in the quickest and most efficient way possible. A male who trains in parkour is called a “traceur,” while a female practitioner is called a “traceuse.”
Parkour came from a discipline called Le MethodeNaturelle. Le Methode Naturelle was developed by George Herbert based from what he believed to be the ten essential human movements to walk, run, climb, move on all fours, swim, balance, lift, throw, and practise self-defence. Raymond Belle, a former French soldier and elite French military firefighter, was a follower of Herbert’s Methode Naturelle. He passed on his knowledge to his son David, who, along with his friends, further developed this method in the 1980s and used their environment as an inspiration to create a discipline called L’Art Du Deplacement, which is said to help them develop their mental and physical abilities.
David and his friends originally called their group the “Yamakasi.” Eventually the term “parcours,” which the group was using, morphed to “parkour,” which was said to be taken from David Belle’s friend, Hubert Kounde.2
Practitioners of parkour can practise their moves alone or with others.
Although it can be done anywhere, parkour is usually practiced in urban spaces. Also, there is no official list of moves in parkour. However, there are certain types of movement that can help someone identify a traceur or traceuse. These movements include:
- Running towards a high wall and then jumping and pushing off the wall with a foot to reach the top of the wall
- Vaulting over obstacle
- Jumping and catching a ledge with the hands while the fee land on the vertical surface below
- Using a rolling motion to help absorb large impacts. Parkour, however, has its known risks, too. Aside from the potential injuries a practitioner can sustain, parkour also poses risks to public facilities and potential damage to property. This is one of the reasons why it is not widely practised in dedicated public facilities.3
1 “What is Parkour?” http://parkourpedia.com/about/what-is-parkour
2 Jonathan Tapp. “How to Parkour: What is Parkour.” http://www.learnmoreparkour.com/how-to-parkour-article-4.htm
3 Parkour. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkour