Parkour is NOT an exercise but a complete non-competitive Martial Arts training discipline, designed to impart strength to the mind and body of the individual performing it. In practice, it involves moving over terrain using just the attributes of the body and no other equipment.
This method of training is to make the body liberated and functional, no matter what the environment. While many consider Parkour today as a glamorous form of recreation, it is actually a tactical extreme sport to keep the body fit.
History and origin of Parkour
A relatively new activity that had its roots in military evasion and escape tactics, Parkour, started in Lisses, France as late as 1988 and gained recognition as a sport only in 2017. The sport is said to be the brainchild of one Raymond Belle, his son David Belle and seven other young men. They introduced the idea of combining martial arts and other moves with military training, as a result, the fun sport of Parkour or ‘free-running’ was formed.
As Parkour originated from France, a person who practices it is called a ‘Traceur’ derived from the French verb tracer, apart from ‘parkour’ or ‘free-runner’. The main object of this exercise is to get from one point to another unhindered and in the fastest way, by a combination of moves like jumping, rolling, climbing, or whatever possible. It can be performed in the jungle, on the roof, or for that matter anywhere in any part of the world, without the need for any special equipment.
Getting started with Parkour
Take insights from the people in the sports community and find a local Parkour group. Most of the big cities have meet-ups on Parkour or alternately you can look for them on Meetup.com or other similar forums. Another ideal way to get started is by enrolling in Parkour gym, as many are cropping up in the cities with the rise in popularity of the sport.
In the beginning, train with a partner or a group who can help you with the moves which are a bit demanding. Before a training session, check out the environment for any potential hazards like stones, glass pieces, etc.
Parkour runners generally need a hard surface to practice their movements in specially created facilities. Seamless surfaces, made of cheap artificial grass, are a good option for beginners, as they provide an all-weather outdoor recreational safety facility. The high-density stitch per minute of the artificial grass will ensure an unrivaled grip and utmost safety in performing high resistance Parkour floor movements.
Also, ensure you have proper Parkour gear in place before you start your training. A good and durable pair of Parkour pants, solid Parkour gloves, and a sturdy pair of Parkour shoes can be excellent to start with.
Beginner moves in Parkour
- Balancing: A vital skill required in any Parkour workout, as it involves constant moving over wall edges and narrow rails. One needs the right muscle coordination and body strength to avoid a nasty fall. Walking on rails is a good way to hone the balancing skills.
- Running: In Parkour, running involves quick bursts of speed as well as long-distance endurance. Training with another Parkour is a good way to conditioning the level of running required in order to keep pursuers at bay in any environment.
- Dropping and Jumping: While jumping plays a big role in clearing different heights and overcoming obstacles, dropping too is an active jump from a higher to a lower level. With proper concentration, one can jump on a small area and land safely.
- Landing: After jumping and dropping, it is essential to land in one piece. Once you have mastered the art of landing, you can immediately move to the next obstacle. Your aim should be to land, preferably on two feet, and as softly as possible.
- Rolling: Rolling is another form of landing which can be adopted to avoid injuries due to force of impact. When done correctly, a roll will allow you to land and be on your feet instantly without a scratch.
- Vaulting: During a run, you will encounter obstacles that are too high to jump over. These can be traversed by vaulting, by using your hands to propel you over the obstacle.
- Climbing: Besides stairs, there are various climbing techniques to be factored. The base rule is to not climb higher than you can jump down. Apart from ladder-style climbing, you can attempt to run, jump, and climb like in a wall run, where the wall is really high.
- Swinging: Swinging is a good way to get around obstacles when there is a big gap between a rail and the ground.
Reasons to practice Parkour
The benefits gained from practicing Parkour are endless.
- FUN: Parkour allows you to release the childish urges of running, climbing, and jumping around. Those who partake in it treat everything like a big playground.
- EXERCISE: No gym needed, no equipment required and still you get the best body exercise. The movements may seem hard work, and they are, but the rewards for the body are immense.
- MENTAL HEALTH: Physical activity generates health benefits is widely acknowledged. Similarly, the philosophical foundations of Parkour help enhance mental health and act as a release from depression. In fact, by engaging the mind, Parkour is a form of meditation.
- SOCIABLE: Since Parkour is almost every time performed in like-minded groups without a competitive element in a friendly environment, it allows easy socializing. After all, the common aim is to help each other and have fun.
- SELF DEFENCE: Once you attain a level of proficiency in Parkour it can help you in awkward situations. You never know when you may need to run from a natural disaster or try and save someone’s life in any eventuality
- CREATES AWARENESS: Parkour practice makes your attitude towards the environment around you totally different. When you realize you can get past certain obstacles that others can’t, your creative stimulation spills over and affects in solving the problems of other aspects of your work and everyday life.
Parkour is a healthy and enjoyable sport. Apart from a good workout, it is a great stress buster. So long as you take adequate safety measures and are aware of your limitations, you should be able to easily master the sport. Experienced traceurs do not just jump headlong to seek an adrenaline rush, instead, they try to learn how to manage risk, rather than look for it.