I first saw Parkour through a video being passed around on the Internet. The video featured a couple of guys doing wicked acrobatic moves. They would climb up the walls of buildings, do flips off almost anything, vault over railings, and jump from extremely high ledges and land in a forward roll like it was nothing. Oh and they did all this whilst continually running.
Le Parkour – Dvinsk Clan
I saw that video in 2006. The couple of guys? A group of traceurs from Latvia who call themselves the Dvinsk Clan.
Parkour, also known as the l’art du déplacement, or in English, the art of movement, is a discipline that focuses on “moving from one point to another as smoothly, efficiently and quickly as possible using the abilities of the human body.”
Practitioners of Parkour (sometimes called PK) call themselves traceurs if male or traceuses if female.
The discipline also has a philosophical element to it which teachers and practitioners of the discipline will often say when asked about PK: Any obstacle, physical or mental, can be transcended.
The goal of being able to move from one point to another as smoothly and efficiently as possible creates a challenge for the practitioner. These goals create challenges that create the opportunity for traceurs to use their critical thinking and problem solving skills to reach their goals.
To reach their goal, a traceur may have to learn to overcome a fear, or think different about an object they want to overcome, or even change their training.
It is this energy that is encouraged to be used in all aspects of the traceurs life. (This thought reminds me of what the point of mindfulness meditation is, FYI.)
PK started in the mid 80s in France and has experienced steady growth since then. One of the unique things about PK is that it has never had an official school to teach it. Most practitioners learned the discipline through video clips and groups found on the Internet. Currently in America, 40, 000 people are estimated to be practicing Parkour. And there are now classes dedicated to teaching Parkour to anyone.
In America, APK is the definitive source for learning PK. The site has tips, tutorials, groups for connecting, and whatever else you could need to inspire you, if you choose to practice PK. [link to APK site]
This video from ESPN (please ignore the reporter talking, she is teh lame!) chronicles the adventure of one PK practitioner who also happens to be a member of APK’s professional PK Team, The Tribe. [link]
Maybe you don’t need that gym membership after all.