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Le Parkour

Updated on March 20, 2016
The 2012 Parkour Summit
The 2012 Parkour Summit


The art and discipline of getting from one place to another in the swiftest time by using forward displacement to overcome obstacles.

Also known as L'art Du Deplacement (the art of displacement), Parkour includes common terms such as cat leaps, drops, vaults, kongs, rolls, gaps, as well as many different runs and jumps. Running is the core of Parkour and often incorporates acrobatics and martial arts techniques. Also combinations of movements used in many sports.

The overall principle is to effectuate every possible movement the human body can perform. In this hub I want to tell you what Parkour is, who and where it stems from, and how it inspired me to write a novel with the theme of Parkour at its heart. It has made as profound an impression on me as it has many Parkour practitioners and enthusiasts.

David Belle
David Belle


David Belle

Formally known as a ‘Traceur’, a Parkour practitioner is a person who trains to generate strength, flexibility, balance and flow, as well as mental fluidity, endurance and courage.

David Belle [1973- ] is the founder of Parkour, an actor, film choreographer, and stunt coordinator. Belle founded Parkour based on his training and the teachings from his military father, Raymond Belle. He was brought up with high social values and an affinity for sports. In Lisses, France, Belle and his colleagues developed L’art Du Deplacement’. They were students of many coordinated disciplines such as gymnastics, acrobatics, forms of martial arts, running and climbing.

Parkour Influence

The strongest influence on Parkour was created by Georges Hebert [1875-1957]. He called it Methode Naturelle (The Natural Method). It included moral and ethical principals. Students of Herbert exercised their natural and utility capacities to develop physical and mental abilities to be utilized in any emergency environment. The training included 10 building blocks: Walking, running, jumping, climbing, quadrupedal movement, balancing, lifting, throwing, defense, swimming. These exercises were designed to prepare people to help others in critical situations. Hebert's motto: Etre Fort Pour Etre Utile (be strong to be useful).

Not For Everyone

It takes years of training to become successful in the sport of Parkour in games, competitions, films or music videos, or simply for the freedom of body and mind that Parkour provides. Some athletes call it Freerunning. However good it may be, and it usually is ~set to music and all, purist Parkour practitioners claim there is a significant difference. Freerunners who train to make an impression or to compete in games aren't Traceurs, they say. Perhaps they mean that Freerunners would not be asked to engage in critical situations or to risk their lives.

When Parkour is utilized in an unfriendly environment, such as a police operation, a Traceur relies on controlled instinct. He has learned to defy his natural duck and run instinct. He reacts and moves as his mind calculates and measures the circumstance. His body is conditioned to swiftly move over, around and through objects that affect his survival. He reacts and moves in unnatural response to a critical situation rather than using technique.

Georges Hebert's Motto - "Etre Fort Pour Etre Utile"

photo credit Simon Lesley
photo credit Simon Lesley
Photo Credit Fabio Aro
Photo Credit Fabio Aro

Clear Mind and Free Body

Without the bog of rules and technique used in similar sports which are also freeing, Parkour uplifts the spirit and provides corporal satisfaction. The real battle is with fear, but once mastered, relaxation, control and enlightenment begins. A Parkour run is being able to move freely and smoothly through a course. Achieve a fluid pass ~a flow through, around, over and under a path of obstacles. Looking ahead and keeping both feet in check produces orientation and fluency, as dancers and acrobats do to remain focused on the main effect of their movements.

Discovering Parkour Gave Me Insight To Write 'The Missing'

When I wrote Breaking The Protocol I passed on the subject of human trafficking and opted for mind control instead. It was easier to work with and less sinister. Later, when I was ready to begin a new novel it was brought to my attention that a love story around the subject of human trafficking might be a little off-putting and difficult to write. It was a challenge. Yet as soon as I discovered Parkour the story came to life and I wrote The Missing.

See the hub The Missing

I wrote about a Traceur named Shaun Suthern who uses his Parkour skills to fight the slave drivers of human trafficking ~to rescue hostages in downtown Montreal. I wrote about his family, his love life and his personal hardships. How he keeps his life together and defends himself. He's a tough man, highly trained to do his job, yet vulnerable in affairs of the heart.

On my facebook one day I was treated to a music video from a friend which cleared the way for this novel. The video is a song by 3 Doors Down entitled 'It's Not My Time'. It features Gabriel (Jaywalker) Nunez, bedecked in dreadlocks and fabulous, running, jumping, cat-leaping, rolling and roof-gapping. The city is his obstacle course. In this video the runner runs through streets, parks and over buildings, down and across an empty swimming pool, over fences and cars and through heavy traffic to save a child who is about to be killed in a car accident. The music is driven and the action is riveting.The music video (see below) is an amazing piece of work and I was surprised to discover that this intriguing, fast-paced flowing maneuver is Parkour and that it is used in competition and in combat. In my novel, The Missing, I depict Parkour as a 'city tactic' for the hostage rescuers of victims of human trafficking in Montreal.

Parkour Music Video 3 Doors Down

In Action - Mirror's Edge "Live Action Parkour" (Game Trailer)

Great Parkour movie RUN

Music Video Jump ~Madonna

© 2013 Carol Houle

Do you Parkour or just like to watch?

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    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 3 years ago from Montreal

      @WriterJanis2: As long as he isn't jumping between buildings, I'm sure he's having fun. Much of Parkour is used in music videos and movies. Madonna has one titled JUMP.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      My son does and it really scares me.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'll continue to just watch. :) Fascinating subject! Very interesting to read about how Parkour affected how you wrote your book. Great lens topic!