The French urban sport of Parkour, or freerunning, as it is known in the UK and the US, is often described as 'the art of movement'. The participants, who are known as Traceurs (or freerunners) use the urban environment around them to create ways of moving that are often very different from the normal ways we move. The whole concept of Parkour is 'flow'. This is basically being able to move around, using special techniques such as vaults, spins, climbing and, of course, running.
If you have ever seen The Matrix, or many kung fu movies, Parkour can be described as the gymnastic moves in these films, but without the aid of a safety net, or wires. It is essentially the Traceurs against
their urban environment.
When and where it started:
The sport was originally created in Lisse, France, by a group of French kids,
in the 1980s. At the time, he and his friends were just messing around,
having fun, jumping over stuff. As they grew up, however, they decided to
try to develop this sport and it became more serious. The two main members
of this group were Sebastein Foucan and David Belle. Sebastein has managed
to get sponsored and is thus the first to do so in this sport.
Some of you will have watched a program called 'Jump Britain' that was on
Channel 4 in the UK in 2004. This was a documentary which showed the development of Parkour in the
UK, which now has quite a large, but cult following now. There was a
program before 'Jump Britain' called 'Jump London', but this did not
produce nearly as much interest in this sport as the more recent of the two
programs has. More recently, though, Parkour has taken off all over the world
and has a huge following in America and Japan, all be it in the underground.
Parkour is not a solitary sport, and there are groups of people who take
part, called 'Crews' or 'Klans'. These groups are often small, containing
a few members, maybe 15, and they practice together. Parkour, therefore,
also has a large social element, with thousands of dedicated websites, where
freerunners can talk about new techniques and experiences, such as how to deal
with the police!