How to Parkour: “What Is Parkour??”

How to Parkour: “What Is Parkour??”

What’s is this new thing called parkour? Where did it come from? And why are all these people jumping around. Here’s a quick summary of what parkour is about!

By Jonathan Tapp

"what is parkour"So what is parkour? Where did it come from? Why is the name associated with people jumping around?

Well parkour is essentially to go from one place to another in the quickest  and most efficeint way possible overcoming any obstacle you encounter through the use of your own body.

It is a two syllable word pronounced as (par-core). Parkour is a noun and not a verb. So when you want to go train parkour with your friends, you would say “You guys want to go train parkour?” You would never say ” Hey guys lets go  parkouring!!” people in the parkour community would look at you funny.

Parkour is looked at as a discipline and even a lifestyle much like martial arts.

Where as martial arts is the art of Fight, parkour is the art of flight.

A male who trains parkour is called a traceur, a female who trains parkour is called a traceuse.

These terms originated in France, this is were the term parkour was actually coined.

Now parkour has been around for ages, since the beginning of man when he figured out how to escape predators in the wild by using his body to  efficiently move through his environment through trees, hills, and rocks to come out alive but it has only recently been given a name.

Parkour’s roots come from a discipline called Le Methode Naturelle, which was developed by a man named George Herbert.

Methode Naturelle was based on what he believed to be ten essential human movements to walk, run, climb, quadrapedal movement (move on all fours), swim, balance, lift, throw, and practice self-defense. Herbert was also one of the first main proponents of the “parcours”(obstacle course) for physical training  which has become standard in military training around the world.

A former French soldier and elite French military firefighter, Raymond Belle, was a follower of Herbert’s Methode Naturelle. Raymond then passed  on these methods and his knowledge to his son David Belle.

David Belle and his friends as teenagers then took this method, and other inspirations in their environment, and created a discipline to develop and grow themselves mentally and physically. They called this L’Art Du Deplacement.

They originally called their group the Yamakasi. This was sometime in the 1980’s, eventually the term parcours was altered into “parkour” which is acknowledged to be coined from David Belle’s friend, Hubert Kounde.

David Belle and many others such as Yann Hunatra, Stephane Vigroux, David Malgogne, Chau Belle-Dinh, Frederic Hnautra, Williams Belle, Laurent Piemontesi,  Charles Perriere, Sebastien Foucan, Guylain N’Guba Boyeke and Malik Diouf were very influential on developing parkour and making it what it is today.


Freerunning was developed by one of the original tracuers, Sebastien Foucan. He wanted to encourage more freedom of expression and created his own concept “Follow your way”. So Freerunning is more about the freedom of expression with your movements. There is no strict definition, much like Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, it is more of a concept.

So technically freerunning and parkour are different. Freerunning is more about creativity and expression of yourself with your movement  while parkour is all about efficiency from one place to another.

I myself look at parkour as strictly going one place to another in the most efficient way. When you add in flips or inefficient movements I recognize this as freerunning.

But most just see it all as movement an whether you call it parkour or freerunning, it doesn’t really matter. A lot of people actually use the terms interchangeably.

I also understand that it makes things a lot easier when you call similar disciplines one name. So for this site I’m just going to call it all parkour.

If you think parkour is all about just jumping around, performing dangerous stunts, and being a daredevil, you are mistaken.

"what is parkour" "laurent piemontesi"

My bro and I with Laurent Piemontesi

What is parkour about then?

Parkour is more about physical and mental development. Its about experiencing physical and mental freedom that is missing in a lot of our lives today.

It takes years of training and physical and mental conditioning to perform the high risk stunts that are seen on television and online.

You spend a year or more training and conditioning low to ground till you attempt the first big jump.

You only perform the jump when you are physically and mentally confident in the move; when you are certain you will be successful. If you are un certain, you do not perform the jump and you keep training low to ground.

You do not have to perform huge jumps or death defying leaps to train parkour. It’s really all about training at your own level and gradually progressing at your own pace.

Parkour can be as safe or as dangerous as you want it to be

Well that’s a basic summary of what parkour is and what parkour is about.

For some really great articles over the history and more about the philosophy of parkour, I highly recommend these websites!

They have a lot of great content on their sites!

For more indepth video tutorials and articles over how to do parkour, Sign Up for my FREE 5-Day Parkour Course! [Click HERE]