What is Parkour?

What is Parkour? - Drew Taylor 26/09/09

Parkour is a discipline that gives people with the desire to improve themselves an opportunity to do so in a way that is enjoyable and tackles both physical and mental aspects of everyday life.

As explained in the ‘who’ article, Parkour was adapted for the urban environment from the natural method. The natural method was a way of training to improve strength and movement efficiency to equip practitioners with practical skills to help them live life. Physically, parkour is a discipline to improve practitioner’s ability to move in all environments and circumstances; involving training walking, sprinting, crawling, jumping, swimming and climbing. Mentally this training also encourages concentration, reasoning, focus, quick thinking and relaxation which are skills needed for making the most of everyday decisions and tasks.

Parkour isn’t a competitive activity. Focussing on competition draws attention away from building a strong and positive mentality. Instead of achieving by beating others, parkour allows everyone to achieve for themselves. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn more about yourself. By constantly challenging yourself in many areas and pushing your personal limits it becomes clear what is possible for you and what you want to achieve. Therefore, it is a good way of gaining a positive outlook on life.

Parkour is often mistaken for the French word for ‘free running’. Freerunning was the word introduced by Sebastein Foucan in order to make the word parkour more accessible to an English audience. Now it seems organisations like UF are using the term free running to turn parkour into an extreme sport, in order to make money. Personally I think drawing the line between Parkour and Freerunning is an important thing to do. UF can take control of the term free running to refer to competitive freestyle gymnastics and keep parkour as the method of training through natural movement. That way there is something for everyone, and solves a lot of confusion about what is what. What I'm trying to say is free running is completely different to parkour - or at least it should be.

To reiterate what is Parkour. It's not something which is grasped instantly. There is always room for improvement and sometimes progression can seem slow. It takes a while to understand what parkour has to teach, but with patience a lot can be learnt. Parkour is filled with challenges, it takes dedication and self discipline to keep training. These are both skills which are encouraged when practising, which means that often once you’ve started you can’t stop. Parkour is the art of movement.

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