Parkour History

A Parkour History | Who Invented Parkour? - Drew Taylor 26/09/09

Crediting one person with the invention of Parkour is difficult to do. Firstly parkour has been around as long as humans have, natural efficient movement will have been used in prehistory when chasing or escaping.

Modern Parkour developed from Georges Hébert’s ‘Natural Method’. This was a way of improving physical efficiency by using different methods of movement to complete obstacle courses. The methods of movements included walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, balancing, lifting, fighting and swimming. This method of training was used to prepare Hébert’s students for what he called the “Moral Requirements” of life in the most holistic way possible. In the same way, he believed, focussing on competition didn’t enable physical education to develop mentality and moral values.

David Belle who is widely regarded as the founder of Parkour was introduced to the Natural Method by his grandfather who had seen the method practised by French soldiers. Belle, along with friends Sebastein Foucan, Yann Hnautra and Laurent Piemontesi first practised what is now known as parkour in the late nineteen-eighties. Belle introduced the practising of the natural method in urban environments to a small community of practitioners who called themselves Yamakasi. This comes from the language of Congo, meaning strong spirit, strong body, and endurance.

Many people who starting practising Parkour after the Yamakasi, are now regarded as the best in the world. Names like Daniel Illabaca, Chase Armitage, and Tim Shief are all better known than some members of the Yamakasi. Although these guys aren’t credited with the creation of urban natural method training they are extremely talented practitioners and all are individually creative with their movements.

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