Parkour has become one of the most practiced sports in the urban community. Even so, the discipline is still fairly underrated, and it was not until recently that it became considered as a type of sport. This article will tell you all about the history of parkour and how it has emerged to the public.
The Origin of Parkour
The history of parkour dates back to 1988 in Lisses, France when David Belle was a 15-year-old teenager. However, it all started with Bell’s father, Raymond, who was a highly skilled athlete as well as a rescuer and military firefighter. Raymond was influenced by the training discipline of a physical education expert named Georges Hébert who also an officer in the navy. Hébert had discovered astonishing methods of athleticism from the indigenous tribes as he was traveling through Africa with the French Navy. He described their movements to be “splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring, and resistant, yet they had no other tutor in Gymnastics but their lives in Nature.” From this astounding discovery, Hébert came back to develop the Natural method, also known as méthode natural, which means using only the body and its surrounding for physical advancement. Hébert viewed physical education was to create powerful and physically strong people who could contribute to society.
Hébert had developed a discipline that focuses on the integration of the mind and body to overcome obstacles through physical movements including running, jumping, leaping, walking on four limbs, and climbing. Trainees would be able to overcome their fears and physical weaknesses through repetitive training.
Martial Arts Influence
Let’s go back to David Belle, whose love for martial arts films, particularly that of Bruce Lee, had inspired him in the early days of parkour. Belle had envisioned the scenarios that often include the themes around rescue, escape, and pursuit, embracing adaptability, and evolution, which are the principles of parkour. Initially, Belle developed parkour with his peers, Sebastien Foucan, Kazuma, and Stephane Vigroux, but it was his exceptional training that put him in the spotlight where he still remains today. Parkour is often linked to skateboarding as it uses urban terrain to perform the techniques. However, many traceurs refuse to accept the comparison as they believe the image of skateboarding to be negative. That is, they associate the impression of skateboarding to be rebellious.
With the help from the media, specifically, a short promotional film for BBC ONE called “Rush Hour,” parkour emerged to the public. The film stars David Belle, who was dubbed as the founder of parkour, featuring him running across the rooftops of London and leaping from one to another while avoiding the traffic jams below. Through the film, people were inspired to engage in the same form of physical movement. Not much later, traceurs turned up everywhere.
As parkour spread to English-speaking countries, it was given the name “free-running” just for the ease of pronunciation and memory. The term sparks division in the parkour community as some say that it does not represent the discipline well. Whether or not you prefer the term “free-running” or “parkour,” there’s one thing that’s for sure – parkour is one incredible sport!
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