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Parkour: Creative movements in urban spaces

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Parkour: Creative movements in urban spaces

What is Parkour?

Parkour is the art of getting from one place to another in the quickiest and most efficient way possible. It is a discipline which involves running, jumping, and climbing through obstacles in mostly urban environments. Parkour is commonly confused with freerunning due to their similarities. Although the jury is still out on the matter, most regard the two practices as different disciplines due to the different maxims they go by. For parkour, it is about getting to your destination in the most efficient and shortest way possible. Where freerunning is concerned, more elaborate moves like flips are involved.

History of Parkour

Parkour originated from France and came about as form of military training. Though parkour's exact roots are unknown, it is noted that Hubert Kounde was credited for the name “parkour”, which is adapted from the term “parcours du combatant”, which a military obstacle course he had created; the name itself comes from ‘parcours’, which means course. Around the 1980s, a group of young French men from the suburbans in the south of Paris began fine-tuning moves that are now the mainstay of Parkour. 

General Parkour Techniques

Parkour consists of a series of rolls, jumps, vaults, and climbs. Although beginners may be tempted to try high-intensity moves such as jumping across rooftops, it would be wise to start with the basics. A huge part of Parkour involves jumping. Hence, a good start is to build a strong foundation in jumps.


Jumping Exercises

A good and simple exercise to train balance and control is jump from a low height. Using a bench for a start would be a good option and this can be done by repeatedly jumping off a bench and landing lightly on both feet. Other jumping exercises include leaping off the bench with one foot leading, alternating the leading foot with each repeated jump. Jumps can also be including into one’s running routine for conditioning.


Vaults

Vaulting is a parkour technique where traceurs use their hands to leap over obstacles in a swift manner. Traceurs will run towards the obstacle, placing weight on the obstacle with a single contact (hands, legs or both) and using the momentum to propel themselves over. Such obstacles include high walls where it is impossible to get to the other side in a single leap. Other types of vaults include speed vault, practical vault, king kong vault, and monkey vault.

 

Cat Leap

Another common parkour technique is the cat leap. Traceurs will run and jump onto a vertical surface and momentarily hang by holding on to the top of the wall with the rest of the body in a position similar to a cat crouch. With knees bent and feet pressing against the wall, traceurs push their weight off the wall using their legs to climb over the wall.  

 

Why do Parkour

With the emphasis of getting from one point to another as fast and efficiently as possible, Parkour trains one’s agility and flexibility in many ways. It also makes a great alternative sport for city dwellers as common buildings and fixtures in cities make great obstacles and training courses for practice. Parkour also requires one to have great mental presence and to think on the spot, as traceurs have to navigate routes quickly and decide their next course of action is in a split second.

Where to Parkour

As the popularity of the sport grows, so has the number of parkour academies. Beginners can swing by any of these schools to master the art in a safe environment.


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