The History, Mechanics, and Media Influence of Parkour
The Age of Momentum
Why is everything these days digital and there is no real work or exercise? It’s just sitting in front of a computer pounding out the rest of our lives, but there are still elements of activity popping up now and again. Some of these are more popular than others; one of these is called parkour. Parkour can only be defined as the art of movement; getting from one point to another by any means quickly and efficiently. This new activity is popping all over the world and being practiced by men and woman of all ages. These people are called traceurs and, in my opinion, this will be the next major sport. I will be explaining why the years 2000-2012 should be named the age of momentum in honour of traceurs and those who break out of the normal way of thinking about how to get from one place to another. I will be proving that ‘The Age of Momentum’ is what these years should be called by explaining the history of parkour, some of the technicalities, and where it has snuck into our media whether we know it or not and through this get you hooked on a great way to stay healthy, have fun and get around in a whole new way.
The Beginning of Parkour
Have you ever wondered how it all began, and by this I don't mean Adam and Eve. I mean the start of parkour and how it got to where it is now. The first time that parkour was seen was in 1988 and it was created by a 15 year old French boy named David Belle (“The History of Parkour” par 1). David was inspired and influenced by his father who was a firefighter for the military and a talented athlete, and because of David’s love of martial arts movies he eventually came to create what we know as parkour. This has become huge over the last few years and it can now be considered a subculture, “Belle initially developed parkour with friends, his exceptional athletic ability propelled him onward as the discipline's leader, eventually putting him into the spotlight where he remains today” (The History of Parkour” par 6) Everywhere you look on the internet there are threads and videos about parkour and traceurs. Slowly but surely more and more people have joined the parkour community and through movies more people have become interested in parkour, and, as more people became interested more videos appeared on YouTube and then more people saw the videos and wanted to join the ever-growing community of traceurs. Like many other popular activities, a market then sprung up advertising special and ‘better’ gear and now with there are enough traceurs to call the parkour community a subculture. I have not called parkour a sport which may sound weird, but it is simply because parkour isn’t a sport, sports have competitions and contests and “To date, official parkour competitions don't exist. If purists have their way, they never will.” (“The History of Parkour” par 9) it is just for getting around in a new way. Even though this may not be a sport there are still many people who are involved, from the young to the old and whether you are male or female you can join the many traceurs worldwide in the parkour community. The history of parkour may not be the most dangerous and action-packed but, it is nice to know that the world was forever changed by a boy just two years younger than I am.
What is Parkour?
All of the flips, jumps, vaults and other mind blowing tricks had to come from somewhere they don't just come to you overnight. The stunts shown in movies and the videos on YouTube may be a nice inspiration but is no place to start, the truth is those stunts seen on YouTube probably took years to master. You can't just jump off a building and roll any old way; if you did that the best that would happen would be a broken bone and what you see in movies also requires intense training, stunt doubles or hidden cables. I know it sounds strange but you have to start with a roll. “It may sound lame, but personally I'd much rather take a week to learn how to roll than break my leg being a newbie superman.” (“How Do I Get Started?” par 6). So parkour is actually a very safe sport as long as you take it seriously and play safe. There are a few things that you need for parkour, only two are physical a pair of pants or shorts that are not jeans and a good pair of running shoes. Other than that you need “consistent, disciplined training with an emphasis on functional strength, physical conditioning, balance, creativity, fluidity, control, precision, spatial awareness, and looking beyond the traditional use of objects.” (“What is Parkour?” par 1) You may be thinking ‘yeah that’s cool and all and you don’t need a whole lot to do it but what are the benefits?’ you will become stronger, more flexible, have better endurance and be more agile (“The History of Parkour” par 2). So for the concerned parents out there, it’s safe and good for you so relax a little bit and let your kid have fun.
Parkour in the Media
So parkour can easily be called a subculture and there is no doubt that when done correctly it's extremely safe so all that is left is to show you what you have seen but don't realize that you know. Where do we see this in movies these days? In more recent movies, parkour is seen more and more but let's just start with a very good film and the oldest that I will mention; Prince of Persia Sands of Time released in May 2010 everybody is flipping all over the place and overcoming different obstacles in interesting ways. Jake Gyllenhaal who plays Dastan in the movie comments “there is every possible combination of combat in this movie. Running up walls, running off walls, the great thing about being the hero of the movie is that you get to do it all” (“SANDS OF TIME-featurette”). The next movie is from December 2010 this time but still amazing and full of action; Tron Legacy all I can say is watch the movie to understand. Even the little things like a Kong jump over a police car are parkour, although Anis Cheurfa was parkour in this film. Finally I move on to a popular book that is soon to be a movie in late March 2012, Hunger Games; these games are when a teenage guy and a teenage girl fighting to the death on live TV (back cover of the Hunger Games par 1), and one of the actresses commented “We worked on Parkour, running, jumping, climbing” (parkour.com Par 2). As you can see parkour is in movies as well now and is here to stay.
As you can see parkour has ebbed itself into all aspects of our lives and is here to stay so we all might as well accept it. This is why I feel that 'The Age of Momentum’ is the most suitable name for the years 2000-2012. Through movies, subculture you can learn the technicalities and you know that this will be the next big thing. From the young to the old and whether you are male or female you can join the many traceurs worldwide.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008. Print.
“Anis Cheurfa in Tron Legacy” parkour.com. (November 17, 2010) <www.parkour.com/category/news/movies/page/3>
““Hunger Games” Star Trains With David Belle” parkour.com. (December 19, 2011) <www.parkour.com/category/news/movies/page/1>
Lawrence, Cameron. “The History of Parkour” How Stuff Works. <adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/urban-sports/parkour1.htm
“PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME featurette – Parkour – On DVD & Blu-Ray” YouTube.com WaltDisneyStudiosAU/ April 20, 2010 <www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffozkFEQR6U>
Toorock, Mark. “How Do I Get started?” American Parkour. October 12 2006/March 5, 2008 <www.americanparkour.com/learn/faq-english/faq/115/887-how-do-i-get-started>
Toorock, Mark. “What is Parkour?” American Parkour. October 12 2009 <www.americanparkour.com/learn/faq-english/faq/115/221-what-is-parkour>