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Parkour Definition – What It Is & What Are Its Risks?

Parkour is quickly becoming a global sensation. Thousands of men and women from around the world are filming themselves running, climbing, and jumping through challenging environments in the “parkour fashion.” But what exactly is parkour? Where does it come from? Is there and official parkour definition online? Is there even a real parkour definition parkour enthusiasts can agree upon?

a young blonde man working out

If you have no idea what parkour is, this is the article for you. Not only will we give you a detailed parkour definition, but we’ll also explore this sport’s history and tell you all you need to know if you wish to get involved in this activity for yourself. After you read this brief article on parkour, you’ll know all about the risks and rewards of taking on this hot new activity.

Parkour Definition – What Is Parkour?

So, what is the textbook parkour definition? Well, first off, what does “parkour” even stand for? Parkour actually comes from the French phrase “parcours du combattant,” which roughly translates to “obstacle course.” Although the French naval officer Georges Hébert is credited with inventing the first system of what we would consider “parkour” in the early 1900s, it was really the father-son team of Raymond and David Belle that invented what we now know as “parkour.”

Raymond, the father, grew up in Vietnam during the First Indochina War. In order to survive as a child, Raymond trained himself by running around the Vietnamese jungles, climbing various trees, and jumping all over the place. Years later, Raymond moved to France and had his son, David, in 1973. David eventually asked his father about how he trained to have such amazing stamina and strength as a child. The two eventually formulated what later became known as “parkour.”

How It All Started

a man doing a parkour jump

Parkour started out as a serious discipline for young men interested in pushing their stamina, strength, and mental fortitude to the limit. This first group of French parkour enthusiasts became known as the Yamakasi. People involved in the group went through various obstacles both inside and outside the gym. In addition to avoiding obstacles, group members had to sleep on the ground, always honor their commitment to gathering together on time, and never make excuses.

Today, parkour is generally defined as an activity that involves moving extremely fast through an urban setting while gracefully avoiding obstacles. But, one could say that this is the modern parkour definition version. With the explosion of the Internet, numerous parkour videos have been posted onto sites like YouTube.

Although parkour is seen as a physical discipline first and foremost, many practitioners liken parkour to martial arts. Although the physical discipline required to run a successful parkour course, the mental discipline is even more important for most serious parkour practitioners.

Easiest Ways & Places to Learn Parkour

two young boys doing parkour

#1. Public Parks

So, after reading over our parkour definition, do you feel like trying out the sport for yourself? If so, you need a safe place to practice. One of the best places probably near you to practice in is at a public park. Play around with the different obstacles in the park and take advantage of the soft areas to practice more complex tricks.

#2. School & College Campuses

Another place parkour experts recommend practicing in is at school parks or college campuses. In fact, check out if there are any parkour training groups at your local college. Joining a group is a great way to keep yourself motivated and learn collaboratively.

#3. Hiring a Local Trainer

Of course, if you have a little extra money, it is worthwhile to invest in training with local gymnasts or martial arts instructors. Although the techniques taught in these courses aren’t true “parkour,” the skills you learn here are the foundation for successful parkour runs.

#4. Doing Parkour Barefoot

There are numerous parkour experts out there who recommend training with your bare feet. Many of the original parkour runners in France trained with their bare feet in most of their training sessions. Although it might take a while for you to get used to this, it’s essential to start training with your bare feet to develop the muscles you’ll need for successful parkour. Start out with using shoes that have extremely thin soles. After you feel comfortable in these, slowly work your way to training barefoot at every training session.

As for proper techniques and parkour tricks, there are numerous books, articles, and videos dedicated to teaching people all over the World Wide Web. If you can’t join a local group of parkour enthusiasts and don’t have the money to learn martial arts techniques, just do a quick Google search and learn from the masters online. As long as you have a dedicated practice space and a reliable online or in-person coach, you should be well on your way to parkour success.

Top 3 Risks to Be Aware of When Doing Parkour

1. Spraining Wrists/Ankles

someone's leg with a sprained ankle

The main issue newbies have with parkour training is jamming their wrists and/or ankles. Most of the time this happens just because you haven’t warmed up properly. Take a few moments before every training session to move your ankles and wrists around in circles and stretch them out.

You also want to be sure you’re using proper technique and not putting too much weight on your joints. Make sure to use your whole arm/leg and don’t just rely on your joints. Whenever you feel pain or aching in your joints, try to take a few days off to let them heal properly.

2. Knee Capitations

the representation of a knee injury

When doing vault jumps, it’s common for parkour trainers to hit their knees, which causes extreme pain. The proper technique for these moves is all in the hips. Always be sure you lift your hips up really high before jumping out of windows, over benches, or whatever the obstacle happens to be. While you are training, there’s no shame in wearing kneepads before you feel more confident in your parkour abilities.

3. Precision Jump Slips

a man doing a back flip jump

As you practice precision jumps, it’s quite common to slip off of your surface, which causes cuts on the shins. Make sure to always keep your feet together when you practice precision jumps. The only reason precision jump slips occur is due to the fact that one foot is in front of the other, which causes an imbalance in the body. Of course, it’s helpful to have a first-aid kit handy just in case you intend to practice precision jumps and are afraid of cutting your shins.

Summing It Up

With your newfound knowledge of our parkour definition and tips, you should know whether or not you want to make parkour a part of your life. Of course, only you can formulate the true “parkour definition” for your own life circumstances.

Whether you see this activity as a way to have fun with friends, a mental discipline, or a great form of entertainment, is all up to you. No matter if you like participating or just watching parkour, it’s undeniable that this sport has changed the lives of many people for the better around the world. Just be sure to be careful as you practice parkour wherever you happen to be.

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