Parkour is a practice that involves moving quickly through an area by running, jumping, dropping and climbing. This is usually performed in an urban setting and the participants use man-made objects as obstacles to be cleared in the most creative and athletic way possible.
How to Begin
The idea behind Parkour is to train the body and mind to escape from dangerous situations by using things normally considered obstacles as an advantage. Some examples would be leaping from one object to another, rolling over the hood of a car, or jumping a fence.
Before beginning to practice Parkour, a person should be in good physical condition; it requires acrobatic maneuvering, strength, dexterity and gymnastic like agility. To prepare for the rigors of this extreme activity start a conditioning regimen that includes exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, jogging and rope climbing.
Avoid heights, or any chancy situations until fully prepared; safety should always be the first concern. Do not make the mistake of trying something unsafe. Parkour can be an exhilarating experience, not to mention a great workout, but it is not worth risking serious injury.
Start out in a safe area such as an empty field and work on things like tumbling, rolling, and jumping. Once comfortable, begin introducing obstacles into the training. Almost anything will work as a beginning obstacle. Cardboard boxes, garbage bags full of leaves or bushes all make excellent conditioning objects.
Practitioners of this extreme activity are called traceurs. The term, like Parkour, is French but it is commonly mispronounced in the US as tr-ACE-er, and many people prefer this pronunciation.
Once thorough preparation has been completed, it is time to become a full-fledged traceur. Parkour is not a competitive sport but an on-going training session to prepare for a hasty escape from danger. Keep this in mind while scouting training locations. Traceurs most often practice in public areas. Urban settings are especially popular because of the great number of obstacles present.
The steps of buildings, ledges, rooftops, crowded alleys and parking garages are all popular locations. Even though some of these places are public areas that does not mean that police or security guards will not run traceurs off, or even detain them.
The fear of injuries and the inevitable lawsuits that follow mean that people are not going to be happy with Parkour training even in public locations. If asked to move along, be polite and find a new spot.
Private property is definitely off limits. If caught training in such locations expect to be charged with trespassing at a minimum. Wherever they train, traceurs should be respectful of others.
Be creative. The object is to move quickly and efficiently from one place to another. Try jumping over garbage cans, scaling a wall or dropping from a fire escape for instance.
Shoes are very important in training. They should have good traction, shock absorbing soles and fit snugly. Finding the right pair of shoes is part of the fun of Parkour, but don’t spend a lot of money. They will take a lot of abuse in a short time and wear out fast. UltimateParkourGear has a good parkour shoe guide.
Whether or not to wear gloves while doing parkour is debated. They can protect your hands, but they also dull the sense of touch.
Be safe, and please do not attempt anything dangerous.