Parkour is a philosophy as well as physical exercise. Parkour is running, dodging, jumping through an obstacle course, on foot and without any special equipment. Parkour is also about learning to live your life in a better way.
What Parkour Really Is: The Whole Picture
Parkour is more than physical exercise or an extreme sport. Parkour is not about buying equipment or gear. Parkour is not about performing tricks or competing or showing off. Parkour is available for any level of athlete, or non-athlete.
Parkour is a philosophy about moving within your environment (mental and physical) and dealing with the obstacles you face. Through Parkour you attempt to understand and improve yourself. Parkour helps us learn to understand and help others by giving us practical skills and the methods of using them.
Parkour teaches us to move in our environment in a way where we can gain the most ground, make real progression and learn how to manoeuvre in different variety of ways.
Parkour can take place in an urban environment. Also, in forests, deserts, any outdoor element or place where there are some obstacles and space to move around them.
Parkour practitioners are called tracuers or tracueses (for women).
One is not truly participating in Parkour without the combination of philosophy and exercise. Parkour is a physical and mental exercise to improve your body at any level of ability, to give you more confidence and change how you see and feel about the world.
How Did Parkour Start?
David Belle was influenced by his Father who grew up in Vietnam as a child soldier trained through obstacle courses known as Parcours. David Belle’s Grandfather taught him about Hebertism. Both of these merged with David’s own philosophy and experiences to become Parkour.
Getting Started: Keep Moving, That’s What Matters
Move around your personal space. Look at the objects in the room differently. Find new ways to move through the room. Take a different route. Walk backwards. Twirl while you move through the room. Skip or hop on one foot. Crawl or walk on your hands if you can. Simple movements are a start. (Don’t wreck the place, go outside to give yourself more room to move).
Remember the old kid’s games where the floor became something dangerous to step on. I used to swim in the public pool and pretend the stripes on the pool floor were giant whales side by side. I tried to avoid stepping on the dark lines between the whales – the dark space between them surely went on forever, sinking deep, down into the ocean. So, I had to swim over them to the next whale.
Important techniques for beginners are good jumping and landing techniques. The roll which limits impact and carries momentum to continue forward movement is an important beginner technique to master. Beginners also learn how to fall, because falling happens. Other beginning moves include monkey vaults and precision jumps.
Don’t start leaping from tall buildings. Find your way along at your own pace. Don’t consider Parkour only as a physical thing either. Think of ways you would like to move through your life, what is keeping you from moving? Could you find a new way to move and gain progress?
Train your mind for Parkour as well as your body. Take a look at puzzles, mazes, things that make you look at new solutions to find your way.
Getting Started: Equipment to Consider
Originally, Parkour was barefoot.
Of course, one nice feature about shoes is the protection of the feet. A tennis shoe should give better traction. Shoes for martial arts are popular for being close to being barefoot. You will want a shoe which is light, comfortable, flexible with a good grip on the ground. Consider snow, rain and sun too, Parkour goes well with the great outdoors.
You could look at wearing gloves to protect your hands. But, like shoes, Parkour doesn’t require any special gear.
You need fabric that can stretch and let your skin breathe, light, casual clothing which you can really move in and sweat in. It’s also important to avoid clothing which could get caught or snag on anything and slow you down or cause you injury.