Le Parkour – Free-running

Le Parkour - Free-running

Parkour, linked with free-running, is a demanding and philosophical sport that lets you free your mind and use the city as a giant playground, where any roof, wall or rail is a tool to move you forwards smoother, faster and purer. Find out more…

You’ve probably seen examples of parkour and free-running on Nike ads, on documentaries, and – if you’re really damn lucky – on the streets.

*** – There’s a catch though – you’re unlikely to see women doing it. This is a mainly male zone of discipline… so far…

Parkour is an urban sport where people use the city as their training ground. It is a physical discipline of French origin in which the participant – called a traceur (which means to trace, or draw, but also to go fast) – attempts to pass obstacles in the fastest and most direct manner possible, using skills such as jumping, vaulting and climbing, or more specific parkour moves. Traceurs use public structures like buildings, rails and walls to vault and fly around the city with a speed that the average pedestrian – and even in some cases car-driver – will never achieve.

The obstacles can be anything in the environment, so parkour is often practised in urban areas because of many suitable public structures, such as buildings, rails, and walls.

According to founders David Belle and Sebastien Foucan, the spirit of parkour is guided in part by the notions of “escape” and “reach”. That is, using physical agility and quick thinking to get out of difficult situations, and to be able to go anywhere that one desires. Free running, a closely related art emphasizing aesthetics, is most concerned with fluidity and beauty. Experienced traceur Jerome Ben Aoues explains in the documentary Jump London that:

“The most important element is the harmony between you and the obstacle; the movement has to be elegant… If you manage to pass over the fence elegantly – that’s beautiful, rather than saying ‘I jumped the lot.’ What’s the point in that?”

Parkour can be compared with martial arts. There are similarities between parkour and the techniques of Hong Kong martial arts star Jackie Chan (who gained his skills from being trained for Beijing Opera). It’s also an art form akin to dance: a way to encapsulate human movement in its most beautiful form. Parkour is often connected with the idea of freedom, in the form of the ability to overcome aspects of one’s surroundings that tend to confine; for example, railings, staircases, or walls, it also encompasses freedom on a non-physical level. The practice of parkour requires considerable physical and mental dedication, and many adherents describe it as a “way of life.”

You can’t do part-time parkour, or free running. Once you become an expert need to be fit to a level that a gymnast might find difficult to maintain. If you dedicate to practising every day, over the years your skills will improve so that you can do building-to-building jumps and drops of over a storey, like those often featured in media portrayals.

However, it’s not all flying over roofs and bouncing off tree-tops. Ground-based movement is much more common – think walls, stairwells and fences – and it’s all about speed, fluidity and grace, not just about what tricks and stunts you can pull.

There are fewer predefined movements in parkour than gymnastics and other extreme sports, in that parkour is about unlimited movement over obstacles; the ability to improvise is as important as being able to replicate previously practised moves.

Despite this, there are many standard “basic” movements that many traceurs practice. Most important are good jumping and landing techniques. The roll, used to limit impact after a drop and to flow easily into the next movement, is often stressed as the most important move to learn. If a good roll is not used, Traceurs may get joint problems later in life.

Vaults are used to clear solid obstacles and come in many forms. Some recognised types of vaults add only technical skill (and hence sometimes aesthetic value) to a move and often not functionality, even sacrificing functionality for a more impressive look. These tend to be looked down on, as they are inefficient movement and thus not Parkour. Many vaults are maximally functional to certain situations, but learning specific vaults is not as worthwhile as learning to improvise and adapt to differing situations.

Good improvisation is always held in higher regard than a well-learned technique.

Tricks, such as flips, are a topic of debate. Most experienced traceurs agree that since flips merely add to the aesthetic value and are rarely (see below) the most efficient way of passing an object and never useful, they are not parkour. However, some traceurs believe that tricks add style and total freedom of motion, and that parkour is not so rigidly defined. Free Running, a movement that stems from Parkour, embraces tricks as a way of artistic and physical expression. Free Running differs from parkour in that visual flair is also a goal, while parkour solely focuses on efficient movement.

A movement by itself is not parkour unless it is used a certain way. Vaulting a single rail could be considered parkour so long as it gets you somewhere faster than going around. Additionally, in parkour it should always be possible to return from any place you move to, although not necessarily via the same route.

There’s no need for specific equipment in order to get going. You only need good shoes – Preferably running shoes – and clothes which are suitable to let your body breathe.

Before you start, It’s important to understand the basic techniques.

Running – 20 Minutes, Three Times Each Week
Sit-Ups – 5 Reps of 30 ( But you can start by doing a series of 10 )
Flexions – 3 Reps of 10
Position a Chair Against Wall – 3 Reps of 1 Minute
Walking With Knees to Chest – 2 Bursts Of About 30 Metres
Hopping – Twice For Each Leg Across 20 Metres
Arm Hang – Four Reps Of 30 Seconds
Quadrupedie – Four Reps of 20 Metres
Gainages – Balance Against A Wall For 4 Reps of 20 Seconds And Hold
PK Circuit Training – Create A Circuit In Which You Can Do The Following
Base Movements : ( Landing From Height, Cat Jump, Roll, Precision Jump )

Images reproduced from www.urbanfreeflow.com