I’ve been a fan of Parkour for ages now. Trouble is I don’t actually do it. I came across Parkour by accident when I was visiting a friend and was captivated.
While having coffee, I was looking out his front living room window onto a sloping grassy area, peppered with trees. Two lads were flipping and jumping around, using the area and obstacles like a sprung floor gym. Being a fitness fan, I had to ask them what they were doing.
Of course the answer was Parkour. Trouble was, I was none the wiser. I asked for more info. What is parkour? And one of the lads, Dylan Currie (you can find his channel on YouTube), gave me the basics.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Parkour is from the french word “parcours” which means “the way through”.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Originally the techniques were part of a training program designed by the French Special Forces.
Their techniques of moving from A to B in the most efficient way, despite environmental obstacles, was known as “parcours du combattant”, literally “path of the warrior”. Now fast forward a little and we find David Belle. David was the son of one of the warriors who took “parcours”, added a K and gave us the Parkour that we know and marvel at today.
Of course there was a period of perfecting and inverting the movements, and style took over the initial substance of the practice.
Originally “parcours” was an essential way of escaping capture, nowadays practitioners aren’t evading capture from an enemy, well most of the time anyway.
So flips, jumps and movements have become more elaborate and gymnastic. In fact, it’s safe to say that Parkour is almost street gymnastics.
I asked my Parkour friends to show me some moves and I was blown away by their daring and imaginative leaps. The modern day Parkour disciples scour their local neighbourhoods for appropriate walls, buildings and landmarks that they can practice their moves on.
I looked further into the subject.
Their are “crews” of Parkour enthusiasts all over the world and the internet makes it easy for them to stay in touch and swap ideas. YouTube is full of amazing clips and, of course, it did not take long for Hollywood to catch up with the scene. Chances are you will have been watching a blockbuster film, and not realized you were watching Parkour.
“Takers” has some thrilling chases through the city, “Captain America-the Winter Soldier” shows the superhero performing some classic moves, as does the roof top chase in “Prince of Persia”. But the opening from James Bond mega flick “Casino Royale” really used Parkour to the max, the stunts from the opening scenes in Madagascar were truly mind blowing. David Belle himself performs in the movie “Banlieue 13” in 2004, remade in the UK as “Brick Mansions” in 2014.
So once I was aware of Parkour I wanted to know how I could learn it.
The lads I spoke to both trained at a local gymnastics club. The sprung floor enabled them to gain height and momentum, and the professional crash mats allowed them to practice without fear of landing on concrete. Moves and techniques seem to be shared amongst practitioners and the online community seems friendly and helpful.
Dylan told me he often arranges meetings for lovers of Parkour to get together and share training techniques. These events are often filmed and uploaded for everyone else to see.
From a fitness point of view, Parkour experts are strong with great core stability. Training seems to focus on propulsion and balance, with incredible hand eye coordination. If interested, check with local gymnastic clubs and see if they have a class dedicated to the art, it may be what you are looking for.
To read more from Louie Fecou and to get in touch directly visit his Expert Profile page.