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What is Parkour?

Updated on March 27, 2015

Learn About the Art of Parkour

Get past the crazy tricks and acrobatics of parkour, and you'll see there is an intriguing philosophy behind this movement art. Parkour involves learning to move beyond the world's obstacles efficiently. However, the truly life-changing aspect of the sport is how you learn to overcome the obstacles lurking on the inside.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Josa Jr.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Gomes
Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Gomes


Parkour is - to put it as simply as possible - movement. The idea is to adapt to whatever obstacles happen to be in the way, and get past them as efficiently as possible. Parkour takes the form of running, climbing, crawling, rolling, jumping, vaulting, or whatever else will work under the circumstances. As an organized movement discipline, parkour is quite young. However, it's probably more accurate to say that the sport is as old as human history itself, since people have been moving past obstacles from the beginning.

Beyond the physical training activities, though, parkour represents a philosophy of freedom. By learning to overcome the various barriers life throws up from time to time, traceurs (practitioners of parkour) learn to see the world in a new, less-restrictive way. Opportunities and paths, hidden from most, become obvious. The mental and emotional obstacles that exist within us begin to fall away, revealing more possibilities for our lives than we imagined.

Another benefit of parkour is learning to interact with the environment, rather than hiding from it. Whether it's a busy urban setting, a quiet city park, or the isolated wilderness, parkour teaches you how to see and move through your surroundings safely and confidently.

Image used under Creative Commons from mrksaari
Image used under Creative Commons from mrksaari

How to Parkour

Written guides for the vaults, jumps, and rolls involved in parkour are often ineffective. Video tutorials are better, but still far short of ideal. To truly learn parkour, you simply have to challenge yourself with new obstacles so that you learn to adapt. However, in order to train safely, it is well worth your time gaining a baseline level of strength and proficiency in certain movement capacities. The specific skills of parkour will come much easier if you can do the exercises listed below.

Movies Featuring Parkour

Traceurs are increasingly employed to perform movie stunts. Parkour plays a big role in these films.

District B13
District B13

David Belle, one of the earliest modern parkour practitioners, stars in this movie.


Training for Le Parkour

  • Pullups. In parkour, you will learn to pull yourself onto walls, rooftops, and beams using your entire body. However, there is still no substitute for having some strength in pulling movements.
  • Crawling. "Quadripedal movement" is crucial in parkour. Whether it's low "belly" crawls, or running on all fours like a chimpanzee, you'll need the coordination and shoulder strength that comes from different types of crawling.
  • Running. It probably goes without saying, but you need to be in shape if you want to do parkour.
  • Leaping. Sometimes, you need to jump high, other times far. Practice jumping straight up, pulling your knees toward your chest as you rise. As you come down, extend your legs, and land quietly on the balls of your feet.

Parkour Necessities

American Parkour Drawstring Backpack
American Parkour Drawstring Backpack

It's useful to have a backpack to carry your wallet, keys, and water when you're out training, since it keeps your hands free. Go for a light-weight, small pack, as opposed to some bulky thing.

Image used under Creative Commons from AMagill
Image used under Creative Commons from AMagill

What is Freerunning?

The terms "freerunning" and "parkour" are often used interchangeably. For the most part, they are quite similar, and employ the same types of vaults, rolls, jumps, etc. The chief difference lies in the particular goals. Parkour focuses primarily on efficiency, in moving the body over, around, under, across, or through the obstacle as quickly and safely - while using the least amount of energy - as possible. Freerunning, on the other hand, is a little more about athletic self-expression. Free runners tend to make greater use of flips, spins, and other "tricks" in their exercises.

Awesome Parkour Videos

One of the videos shows a bunch of kids doing amazing stuff. It's sure to make you feel like a worthless slob. Enjoy!

So, what do you think? Is parkour something you'd like to try out? Are you already a traceur or traceuse? Are you impressed by my French?


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    • TrashBoat profile image

      TrashBoat 5 years ago

      @pcgamehardware: Thanks. And no need to feel bad. Anybody can do parkour, since it's nothing more than movement. That's one of the greatest things about it!

    • pcgamehardware profile image

      pcgamehardware 5 years ago

      Now I feel like a worthless slob.... Just kidding, really cool sport and the videos are the best... Nice work on this page. :)

    • Caromite profile image

      Caromite 5 years ago

      I find parkour very interesting, but I think it's not the right sport for me :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Yee-hah! Very fun to watch. I'm pretty sure my body wouldn't have done those things even when it was young. Be careful out there! (Sorry, it's the mom in me that I can't keep inside.)