What is Parkour?

For those who are unfamiliar with parkour, it is a form of physical and mental training centered on the movement of the body. The goal of parkour is to transport one's body from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible while maintaining elegance in one's movements. Many parkour enthusiasts consider it an art form rather than a sport or training technique; while getting from point A to B is the main goal; the traceur (one who practices parkour) also puts a great amount of focus on the flow of his movements.

Point of View Parkour Video In the Style of a Video Game

The Beginning of Parkour

David Belle is credited with starting the parkour movement. His father, Raymond Belle, was a child soldier in Vietnam. Wishing to improve himself for purposes of survival, Raymond Belle would complete obstacle courses entitled 'parcours'. This is where the term parkour originated; in an effort to provide a more accurate reflection of the attributes of parkour, the 'c' was replaced with a 'k' and the 's' was removed. This was done for the purpose of giving the word a stronger and more solid sound, as the French word 'parcours' sounds softer and less concrete.

Due to living a childhood engulfed in war and violence, Raymond Belle was unable to sustain a happy family and ended up moving to France. His son David was consequently raised by his grandmother, but later in life, David decided to seek out his father. After forming a relationship with his father, David became interested in the training his father was so dedicated to. Over time, David also developed a passion for what would soon be known as parkour. He began to find others who also shared the passion, and the trend continued to grow more and more until it reached the level of prominence it is at today.

A Focus on Philosophy

The main thing that sets apart parkour from other sports is its heavy focus on freedom and self-expression. Although there are training centers available in certain places, many traceurs believe that the practice should not be done in a controlled area - urban areas with a plethora of buildings and other types architecture are ideal for the traceur. Parkour can even be therapeutic to some, as it can help to overcome fear and help an individual connect with the world in a unique way. Parkour may be a physical activity, but there are spiritual and mental aspects of it that are just as important.

These spiritual and mental aspects are very similar to the philosophy involved in martial arts. Both activities require a certain level of mental preparation in order for a practitioner to reach their full potential. David Belle openly credits Bruce Lee with having an influence on Belle's own philosophy; Lee once said that "there are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. A man must constantly exceed his level". Belle considered this to be his motto, as its principle also applies to parkour. To truly practice parkour means to constantly be bettering oneself.

Acceptance into Pop Culture

While parkour originated as a form of training relating to the military, it is now a popular fringe sport. It has continued to grow in popularity and continues to evolve. The Internet played a significant role in spreading parkour through videos of Belle and other early French tracuers when parkour was first created. Recently, freerunners can be seen in everything from commercials, music videos, television shows, and video games to Hollywood blockbusters. Freerunning is a sport rising out of the parkour movement that focuses on complex tricks and flashiness. Flips and acrobatics are common in freerunning, and videos of freerunners performing intricate tricks have gained the attention of the general public. While committed traceurs consider parkour and freerunning to be different from one another, the rise of popularity in freerunning ultimately led to parkour also gaining popularity. And the general public rarely distinguish the two.

Parkour continues to become more and more relevant in modern culture, and as more people become involved, the practice evolves and becomes more complex. Parkour has a promising future, and its past makes it a respectable form of both art and training.

David Belle - Rush Hour