Pushing perceived limitations
Parkour (also referred to as free running and l’art du déplacement) is a training discipline that originates from military obstacle course training in which practitioners aim navigate a course in the most physically efficient way possible. This is done by using their surroundings to aim the in their progress by climbing, jumping, vaulting and propelling themselves forward.
Parkour is deeply ingrained into modern pop culture with almost every action film since The Matrix demanding its action heros to perform a range of dare devil stunts in order to chase the villain or evade capture. Parkour videos also rack up millions of YouTube views which has been driven recently by the introduction of the Go-Pro action camera, allowing for a first person perspective of knee trembling feats of urban highwire acrobatics. Parkour has also become common in video games as the natural evolution of old skool platform gaming where it was beautifully realised in Dice Studio’s ‘Mirror’s Edge’ which provided a first person simulation of parkour as well as the hugely popular series ‘Assassins Creed’.
At BodyPower Expo 2014 Jump Parkour were once again providing a demonstration in a purpose built jump park on the show floor. Based in the midlands in the UK, Jump is a parkour training organisation which educates people on how to partake in parkour safely and effectively. Whilst it may look extremely dangerous and certainly involves a high degree of risk, the focus upon safety in the training means that the injury rates in parkour are significantly less than in more common sports such as rugby or football according to Jump Director & Trainer Daniel Timms.
The parkour environment
There are two schools of thought on where to practice parkour. Jump parks which are now beginning to sprout up provide a safe environment dedicated to the sport. Alternatively practitioners may also prefer to appropriate the urban environment by using walls and street furniture to provide a more real world obstacle course. The adaptation of the urban environment by fitness practitioners is a growing trend. Some attribute this to previous generations who have grown up playing in urban environments, then to see this replaced by poor attempts on the part of local councils to provide small sanitised play areas which are often only left to be vandalised. Parkour is also supported by the beliefs of natural fitness disciplines such as MovNat, in that humans should feel free to move and train like humans in their native environment.
Potential of parkour
Parkour provides an exceptional full body workout that includes jumping (plyometrics), cardio and bodyweight exercise. Parkour also develops balance and confidence in overall physical ability. This highly functional conditioning proves to be highly useful in all aspects of active life, not to mention the ability to chase or escape should the need arise.