Parkour is a relatively new activity that everyone's been talking about and eager to try- but what is it?
Parkour is an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body. It is meant to help one overcome obstacles, which can be anything in the surrounding environment—from branches and rocks to rails and concrete walls—and can be practiced in both rural and urban areas. Parkour practitioners are referred to as traceurs (male) or traceuses (female).
Founded by David Belle in France, parkour focuses on practicing efficient movements to develop one's body and mind to be able to overcome obstacles in an emergency.
Parkour is a physical activity that is difficult to categorize. Often miscategorized as a sport or an extreme sport, parkour has no set of rules, team work, formal hierarchy, or competitiveness. On the contrary it is more like an art or discipline that resembles self-defense in the ancient martial arts. According to David Belle, "the physical aspect of parkour is getting over all the obstacles in your path as you would in an emergency. You want to move in such a way, with any movement, as to help you gain the most ground on someone or something, whether escaping from it or chasing toward it." Thus, when faced with a hostile confrontation with a person, one will be able to speak, fight, or flee. As martial arts are a form of training for the fight, parkour is a form of training for the flight. Because of its unique nature, it is often said that parkour is in its own category: "parkour is parkour."
An important characteristic of parkour is efficiency. Practitioners move not only as fast as they can, but also in the most direct and efficient way possible, this characteristic distinguishes it from the similar practice of free running, which places more emphasis on freedom of movements, such as acrobatics. Efficiency also involves avoiding injuries, short and long-term, part of why parkour's unofficial motto is être et durer (to be and to last).
Those who are skilled at this activity normally have an extremely keen spatial awareness.
Traceurs claim that parkour also influences one's thought process by enhancing self-confidence and critical-thinking skills that allow one to overcome everyday physical and mental obstacles.
David Belle stated to the BBC news that "Our aim is to take our art to the world and make people understand what it is to move."