Parkour focuses on moving around objects with speed and efficiency.
Parkour is really an art form that originated in France that showed disciples how to maneuver through their environment by taking alternate paths. The focus is on efficiency and may involve rolling, vaulting, jumping, running, and climbing.
Parkour vs. freerunning
Many consider parkour to be different than free running. While parkour is by definition getting from point A to point B as quickly as possibly, free running is considered by most enthusiasts to allow for more creativity and less focused on efficient movement. That is not to say free running is not closely related to but in laymen terms involves more twirls and flips which while impressive are often unnecessary.
Image used under Creative Commons from Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas)
While we know the names of some prolific traceurs there is no recorded moment in time where one or more persons “invented” the activity. In fact, a lot of the moves that we see have been practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years. There is some debate over the classification of the whole business. Some call it a sport, others a hobby and many even consider it a discipline. Whatever you choose to call it one thing is for sure. This activity has exploded over the last few years and continues to grow in popularity.
Running purely for fitness is popular around the world. In fact companies spend millions of dollars each year advertising products designed for people who run or jog to stay in shape. Ever since parkour appeared on the scene it has brought a new consumer into the market. Those are the people who run and jump for fun. While the typical running enthusiast participates mainly in order to stay in shape, the traceur runs because he enjoys it. Let’s be honest, running in a straight line gets old pretty fast.
Adding the elements of creativity and expression which is unique to the individual, parkour and free running change the game significantly. Again as we look at the similarities between traditional sports and these two we find ourselves encountering so many differences that it becomes difficult to keep both activities in the same category. Yes it does require physical exertion and strength. Sure we can create an obstacle course which measures the speed at which competing athletes will race to completion. The big difference though will be exactly how each of them chooses to reach the finish line in the way that he finds to be the most efficient.
No one knows where the future will lead us. This seems appropriate for an activity that requires it’s participants to asses obstacles and overcome them. The parkour philosophy supports longevity and innovation so it seems unlikely that it will go away anytime soon if ever. It is also possible that other related activities will evolve, perhaps on specific terrains, as team sports, or maybe even some sort of Olympic event. Well it could happen.
Due to lack of rigid structure we don’t see it becoming an official sport or Olympic event. It’s more likely that parkour techniques will be applied to contests that allow more freedom than those which follow strict rules. Think more of American Gladiators or Ninja Warrior adopting the moves used by Parkour practitioners.
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