Parkour & Freerunning

Parkour

[Pahr-Koor, -Kawr, -Kohr]

Noun:

  1. The sport of moving along a route, typically in a city, trying to get around or through various obstacles in the quickest and most efficient manner possible, as by jumping, climbing, or running.¹

In a basic sense this definition is correct, but we would like to expand on it, as parkour has developed a rich history and distinct philosophy over the past 30 years, and it is important to understand the foundations of our art form.

History of Parkour

Although it could be argued that Parkour has been practised throughout the ages, Yamakasi, a group of French Treaceurs from Lisse, France, are credited as the first group to develop a method of Parkour training and were among the first to popularize the sport through local and international media outlets. At the time, the group referred to the sport as l’Art du déplacement. Their practice was inspired by training that one of the group member's fathers had received in the French military. This training was in turn based on Georges Hébert's Méthode naturelle, which combined training in a wide variety of physical capacities, (often using acrobatic elements similar to modern Parkour techniques), with the training of courage and morality.

David Belle and Sébastien Foucan would eventually leave the group to pursue their own development of the practice. David would become known as the founder of Parkour and continue to popularize the name globally, while Sébastien would become known as the founder of Freerunning, when he and others were featured performing Parkour in the British documentary Jump London. This confused many in the international community of movement, as the documentary had used the term “Freerunning” as an English translation of the word Parkour. It was eventually concluded that Parkour was the aspect of movement that focused more on moving through a space with speed and efficiency while Freerunning focused more on aesthetic movements within a space. Today, many practitioners find a healthy balance between both, as both practices come with their own advantages.

At Pursuit Athletics, we respect the difference between the two art forms, however we often incorporate elements of Freerunning within our Parkour programs, as Parkour is the most consistently used term for the two activities.

Philosophy of Parkour

The Yamakasi valued certain principles in their practice. These included honesty, respect, humility, sacrifice, and hard work.

  • Honesty: Always be truthful with yourself, your fellow practitioners and others.
  • Respect: Honor your space, your peers and yourself. Recognize the unique value of each of these things.
  • Humility: Leave your ego out of training, you don’t practice to show off, you practice to get stronger and to help others get stronger.
  • Sacrifice: Give your time and energy to the practice and to your fellow members.
  • Hard work: Give all you can to become more than what you were when you started.

These fundamentals are consistent to many forms and practices of Parkour and are held dear here at Pursuit Athletics. These values are a core reason why athletes are able to perform the heroic feats you’ll often see on many forms of social media.