Parkour was developed in France by a group of young men who called themselves Yamakasi (a Lingala word meaning ‘Strong Man, Strong Body, Strong Spirit’). It is a fun, creative, physical and non-competitive activity in which people of all ages, genders and abilities can participate and is a philosophy or approach to learning that cannot be distinguished solely by the movements its practitioners perform but rather the reasons for the movements.
Practitioners explore their capabilities using any architecture or terrain available, be that urban or rural. Most practitioners regularly practise in towns and cities because of the high concentration and variation in architecture plus the opportunity to meet and train with other likeminded practitioners. Through the process of interacting with their surroundings, challenging themselves constantly and developing new physical and mental competences, practitioners acquire a better understanding of their own potential as individuals as well as a newfound respect for themselves, their environment and other people.
Gradually and naturally, this understanding enters into other areas of a practitioner’s life as they become aware that the principals practiced in parkour can easily be applied to other things they do.It is important to note that while we all have the ability to learn through movement, understanding and using parkour takes a great deal of practice and can be incredibly difficult to grasp without the guidance of a qualified parkour coach. With an official national governing body in place in the guise of Parkour UK and growing numbers of organised parkour groups across the country, public acceptance of the activity and the way that practitioners view and use their environment is fast expanding. More and more authorities in fields such as education, health and fitness, policing and community development are recognising parkour’s potential and the discipline is progressively being used to combat prominent issues like obesity, anti-social behaviour and social decline as well as a tool to help teach people more respondent to a kinaesthetic learning style.