Over the past couple of years, parkour has become one of the most popular sports amongst young people in the world. On top of this, it is also one of the fastest-growing activities, meaning that more and more people are taking it up as a form of physical exercise.
If you have never heard of parkour and have no idea what it entails, you have come to the right place.
In this article, we will be discussing exactly what this sport is all about, including how it was developed, why it has become so popular, and a few key benefits.
What Is Parkour?
Parkour experts define this sport as being a discipline of movement. It involves running, jumping, crawling, and climbing in order to traverse obstacles.
These obstacles can be man-made or found in the natural environment. For example, many parkour artists practice their skills in wooded areas, while others prefer the city landscape.
This form of physical exercise requires plenty of skill, technique, strength, flexibility, and endurance. It includes aspects of different sports, including gymnastics, CrossFit, running, and climbing.
For this reason, many parkour experts believe that this sport is one of the most difficult in the world, especially when performed at the highest level.
How Did Parkour Come About?
Writers who base their work on parkour seem to believe that this sport dates back to the early years of World War 1.
To be more specific, parkour initially included a set of fighting skills and moves that were developed by a man named Georges Hebert.
These moves were called ‘la methode naturelle’ and involved training in running, swimming, climbing, jumping, balancing, and defending.
More so, Georges made use of obstacles in order to teach these different skills.
Further Parkour Development
This system was used by the French military up until the 1950s.
After this, it was taught in various other defense institutions, such as the police force and firefighter training academies.
In fact, Raymond Belle was in training to become a firefighter when he learned this specific set of skills.
He was widely known for his athleticism and agility, becoming world-class in his field and saving many lives.
The Term ‘Parkour’
However, the term ‘parkour’ wasn’t used until Raymond began sharing his knowledge and skills with his son, David Belle.
Generally, David is accredited as the father of the sport. He began adding new moves, challenges, and steps to ‘la methode naturelle’.
He even started a group called Yamakasi and traveled the world performing for the public.
After the sport reached other areas of the world, it began rapidly growing in popularity.
Why Has Parkour Become So Popular Amongst Young People?
Even though parkour has been around for a few years, it has only recently been discovered by many people.
With that being said, this particular sport is unlike any other – even though it includes aspects of various activities, it is unique in its own way.
For this reason, and many others, parkour has become incredibly popular amongst young people.
This sport is uncompetitive, meaning that there are no competitions for the athletes to part-take in.
This attracts many people, as there is no pressure when it comes to learning new skills and tricks. More so, there is an element of simplicity when it comes to parkour.
The Influence of Films on Parkour
Unlike many other sports, athletes can practice their moves at any point and in any location. They also do not need to spend any money in order to train.
Parkour was popularized through various movie franchises, such as the James Bond series, Mission Impossible, and Freerunner.
When impressionable children watch their favorite actors and actresses performing amazing tricks and skills, it makes them want to do the same thing.
This played a massive role in the development of parkour.
Parkour During the Pandemic
Strangely enough, parkour has become even more popular since the end of lockdown.
After being stuck in their homes for weeks, many people felt the need to release energy while simultaneously saving money. They were looking for an activity that doesn’t involve large crowds.
For this reason, parkour was the sport of choice for many. John Hall, a parkour coach, has seen a massive increase in his number of clients over the last few months.
From coaching just over 50 athletes before lockdown, Hall now has over 150 clients. More so, this includes a wide range of ages, as he has also seen an increase in popularity amongst adults.
As we mentioned, parkour involves plenty of technical moves.
It can sometimes take years in order for an athlete to perfect a certain move – this is especially true for more difficult skills.
Below are some of the most popular parkour moves that can be learned.
The Parkour Roll
The parkour roll is one of the most basic skills that a parkour artist can learn. In fact, if you were ever to attend a parkour class, this would most likely be the first move taught to you.
In general, the roll is used to move between two points rapidly. The athlete will start in a low squatting position and reach their arms diagonally to the one side of their body.
From there, they will push off their feet and propel themselves off of the ground. Rolling across their back, they will follow a line from one shoulder to the opposite hip.
During this movement, one foot should be tucked into the body, while the other is partially extended in order to support their weight when they come out of the roll.
The Cat Leap
The cat leap is another move that all parkour artists should aim to learn at some point. This common technique is used to propel the athletes from a low point to a high point.
For example, they will use the cat leap if they are trying to jump from the base of a wall to the top.
Speed Is Important
In order to execute the cat leap, the parkour artist has to run towards the obstacle with speed.
When they are roughly a meter away from the base of the obstacle, they would enter a squatting position and leap towards the top of the obstacle with as much force as possible.
The Dash Vault
The dash vault is another basic move that all parkour artists will need to know. This simple skill can be used to clear short obstacles, such as steps or small walls.
It is also relatively easy to learn and can drastically increase your run time. To execute the dash vault, the athlete will need to run towards the obstacle at speed.
Space Is Needed
When they are a meter or so away from the base of the obstacle, they will need to extend the legs in front of them in order to clear the object.
To gain stability, they use their arms to push off of the obstacle when passing over it.
Benefits of Doing Parkour
There are plenty of benefits when it comes to learning parkour that we will be covering below.
Not only is this sport a great way to exercise without spending money, but it also provides you with a full-body workout.
More so, it will improve your cardiovascular endurance and bone strength.
Unlike other sports that only exercise certain parts of the body, parkour will train and strengthen everything.
You Will Receive a Full Body Workout
When running, jumping, and climbing, every muscle in the body is activated. For this reason, you will gain definition everywhere after just a few months of practicing this sport.
Since parkour involves plenty of sprinting, it will also work wonders for improving your cardiovascular endurance.
Effects Over Time
After your first few sessions, you will notice a very high heart rate and heavy breathing.
However, with more practice, your endurance will slowly be improved, and each session will become easier as your fitness increases.
Increased Bone Strength
One issue that many people struggle with when training is injuries.
While it is almost impossible to avoid injuries completely, there are a few things that you can do, such as increasing your bone strength, in order to prevent them as much as possible.
Parkour is a high-impact sport, meaning that it puts plenty of pressure on the joints and bones.
After practicing for a few months, your body will eventually grow accustomed to this pressure, decreasing the risk of injury.
Promotes Quick Thinking
In order to be a successful parkour artist, you will need very good quick-thinking skills.
Since this sport revolves around completing an obstacle course in as little time as possible, it requires plenty of speed.
Speed, Speed, Speed!
For this reason, the athletes move through the course at an extremely fast rate, encountering various obstacles as they go.
To clear the obstacles, they will need to settle on a skill and execute it. This promotes quick-thinking, a skill that can be used in all aspects of life.
Parkour is an uncompetitive sport that involves running, jumping, and climbing over various obstacles. This sport can be practiced just about anywhere, making it incredibly popular.
In fact, it has become one of the fastest-growing urban sports in the world for a number of reasons, as we covered above.