Parkour - Acrobatic efficiency | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Parkour - Acrobatic efficiency

6 December, 2020

Parkour is a sport or physical training discipline originating from France, which has its practitioners, named traceurs, navigate through obstacles and complicated routes to get from point A to B as quickly as possible.

While a household name in many respects, and a world famous one at that, Parkour is generally misunderstood by many, not helped by its vague definition and how it is easily misidentified in popular media. Not needing equipment of any kind besides one’s own body, Parkour can be more accurately described as a non-combative martial art than a sport.

One may think that Parkour as a sport has been around forever but it is a relatively young invention, even relative to something like Skateboarding, a sport from the 70s, which it is often compared to.

However, though it was only popularized under the name of Parkour around the late 90s to the early 2000s by David Belle, the concept had existed as a form of military training before the first World War.

Developed by French Naval Officer Georges Hébert, this méthodenaturelleor natural method which worked under the belief that true athleticism was borne organically, inspired by the tribes of Africa, whose bodies were naturally fluid and strong without any rigid training regimen. Raymond Belle was a soldier and celebrated fireman who had trained rigorously under this philosophy from his youth and passed it down to his son, David.


The Parkour discipline that David developed, true to its military roots, was spartan and rigid in nature. He, and a group of like-minded individuals formed the first Parkour group, known as Yamakasi, who challenged themselves physically and mentally to master themselves in every respect.

Repetition was key, no move or route was a success until it could be repeated with consistency. No one was allowed to slack, and any injury was regarded as a failure to be corrected the next time.

No one was allowed to feel superior to another and failure to adhere to their strict regimen resulted in prompt dismissal from the group. This discipline continues to be the cornerstone of Parkour that exists today.

Parkour inspires a sort of philosophy based on the idea of human reclamation, wherein we must interact with the world and not be content to just be sheltered by it. Expert traceurs attest to the discipline becoming a mindset overtime, allowing them to see the world around them as much more open than anyone else.

In this regard, it almost like martial arts which teaches self-improvement beyond the physical, though it differs in that Parkour has no real moves or techniques to speak of and every traceur is encouraged to traverse routes their own way that best suits themselves, and is more like a practical art form.


One of the biggest issues Parkourfaces, has been the social stigma associated with it and concerns over public property damage and trespassing. As the concept of Parkour parks goes against the philosophy of Parkour, traceurs practice in public urban environments and would leave them battered in the process. In order to combat this perception, traceurs are encouraged to clean up after themselves, often leaving their practice spaces better than when they found them.

One of the more confusing aspects of Parkour is its relationship with Free Running, a branch of Parkour that emphasizes self-expression and form over function. While Free Running concerns itself with complicated stunts and flourishes in its movements, Parkour is more practical, concerning itself only with getting to the destination as quickly as possible.

Their skill sets are very similar and interchangeable but what separates a free runner from a traceur is the mindset.