A Brief and Basic History of Parkour

Who invented parkour?

In the early 1900s, French officer Georges Hebért observed the athletic skills of indigenous tribes in Africa. He was amazed that the locals were able to use their bodies in such flexible and nimble ways. They could do that without an educator in gymnastics but with the use of nature around.

Hebert brought this concept to the military leading the way in the education of the French military for soldiers to coach using an obstacle course. Over the years the fitness regime Herbert developed, referred to as “The Natural Method”, grew to 10 fundamental groups to incorporate walking, running, jumping quadrupedal movement, climbing, balancing, throwing, lifting, self-defense, and swimming. It also included training in courage and morality.

During the war I and war II, this method continued to grow and has become the quality training and education of the French. within the mid-1940s, Raymond Belle, born to a French physician and Vietnamese mother, learned of the military obstacle course when he became an orphan and was placed in a military orphanage in Vietnam. Raymond Belle wanted to be stronger, faster, and more flexible and would train on the Q.T. in the dead of night using the obstacle course. He did not want to be bullied, so he eventually excelled at the military course while living at the military orphanage.


What is Parkour, precisely

The purpose of Parkour is about getting from one place to a unique within the foremost effective manner possible. In theory, parkour is about learning to navigate obstacles quickly in an emergency situation. Parkour training allows people to barter obstacles on a private basis and choose the simplest method for getting pass them, supported the kind of obstacle, the physical abilities of the traceur, and also the situation. There’s a stress on fluid, limber movements, and training sometimes includes instruction within the martial arts.

Father and Son Develop Parkour

Once Belle was back in France, during the 1980s, his son David was seeking an alternative to high school and sports club exercises like gymnastics. David learned of his father’s exploits in military obstacle courses. When the younger Belle realized that parkour would teach him skills useful in life, and offer how of not only surviving but in protecting people he cared about, he too excelled within the obstacle course. This led to the event by the father and son, of the civilian fitness discipline, which is named parkour in the 1980s.

Raymond Belle

Raymond Belle

Parkour Group Forms

David Belle trained on his own before seeking out out other men, including Sébastian Foucan, wishing to find out and train together. Parkour became quite just a fitness regime. It included social, mental, and philosophical values and principles. it had been about not only overcoming physical barriers but of overcoming mental and emotional ones too. This group challenged themselves to search out physical and mental strength by enduring cold or training without food and water. They believed in traits like honesty, respect, humility, sacrifice, and exertions.

There are 6 basic foundation movements:

1) Balance

2) Running

3) Jumping

4) Vaulting

5) Grab/Hanging

6) Climbing.

Those that practice parkour is called ‘traceurs’ or the female, ‘traceuse’. Traceurs’ goal is to induce from one point to a different within the fastest and most effective way and with none assistive equipment, self-esteem, control, focus, and critical thinking would bring a traceur to beat the physical and mental obstacles. A traceur adapts to his environment using obstacles to make his own movement. Belle has said, “A traceur isn’t a practitioner of parkour, a traceur is someone who is trying to grasp parkour.”

Being during a group required strict discipline and values. nobody was allowed to complain or feel superior over some other person. Repetition was key. The challenge had to complete a minimum of 10 times during a row by a traceur without injury, so as for it to be deemed successful. Then all members had to also compete for the movement. If a blunder was made by a traceur, then the full group had to start again. New members could only join if they were recommended by an existing member then pass tests that not only included physical strength but principles too. Members could vote to kick out people who failed to follow the principles and values that were established. Complete trust within the group was essential together with respect and humility.

To watch parkour, many see the influence of martial arts and think about Lee Yuen Kam and Jackie Chan. David Belle did spend 3 months studying in India Kung Fu. The philosophy of parkour is comparable to martial arts but parkour is non-combative. The physical movement is also important and impressive to determine but consistent with David Belle’s 2009 book “Parkour”, a traceur’s understanding of its principles, values, and the mental view is that the most vital aspect. Belle also describes parkour “as an art that needs huge amounts of repetition and practice to master.” it’s a discipline.

Parkour Hits the Globe Stage

As a stuntman, in the future, David Belle showed his now-famous video “Speed Air Man”, to actor and director Hubert Koundé. Koundé suggested to Belle to vary the spelling of “Parcours” to “parkour”, believing it had been stronger and dynamic.

According to Wikipedia, David Belle’s brother Jean-François, who was within the Paris Fire Brigade, invited the group to perform for the general public in Paris. This became the start of several changes to the group.

First, the group named themselves Yamakasi, (sometimes spelled Yamakazi). Belle failed to just like the name in this it failed to reflect anything of his father’s role within the discipline. Many members also believed that the performance failed to demonstrate all aspects of their discipline like their values and ethics. Belle wanted to focus on his acting and Foucan wanted to spend longer in training or teaching. With pictures and videos sent to French TV shows, parkour rose in popularity. And with social media sites and YouTube, parkour became more known. Belle left the initial group and commenced to achieve success in acting using parkour to star in commercials and with roles in French films and promotions.


Sébastien Foucan became the topic of some documentaries within the UK in the first 2000s. The word “freerunning” was coined during the filming of the documentary “Jump London”. Then in 2006, Foucan starred in the opening chase scene of the fictional character film, “Casino Royale”. This exposure brought parkour and freerunning out of its niche to the global stage.

There are differences though between parkour and freerunning. consistent with Foucan’s website, Foucan was dissatisfied with parkour’s limited creativity and self-expression. This led him to make freerunning. Though similar in movements, freerunning is all about innovation and expression. Parkour differs in this there’s more speed and efficiency in aiming to point A to point B. Belle et al are critical in Foucan and freerunning. Worldwildjam. tv says that freerunning may be a mixture of parkour techniques and acrobatics to serve and impress people.

David Belle attempted to trademark “Parkour” but wasn’t successful. Therefore, many of us and firms have used the name likening it to words like “baseball”, or “soccer”. With the increase in popularity, many wanted competitions in parkour. This goes against the very philosophy of what Belle believes parkour is about. Parkour isn’t a sport. Competition is a rivalry for supremacy when parkour is about teamwork, equality, and self-development. Parkour may be a holistic training discipline, not just the physical aspect.

Freerunning on the opposite hand doesn’t have these boundaries and one can find competitions everywhere. and since it’s so closely associated with parkour, and without the trademark, one can find “Parkour and Freerunning Competition” together all around the world. Either way, both disciplines require constant practice and team effort to succeed.

How to start practicing Parkour?

If you’re curious about seeing parkour in action, many capital cities have Parkour teams that perform periodic demonstrations. These groups also provide training in parkour to persons who have an interest in learning more about the discipline. Parkour is certainly refreshing and sometimes hugely enjoyable thanks to getting active and build a more robust relationship along with your own body and also the environment around you; why jog on the streets after you can fly through an obstacle course through your own city?