How Parkour Works

Extreme Sports Image Gallery Urban Freeflow's Ez leaps across a gap 45 feet above the ground. See more extreme sports pictures.
Image courtesy Urban Freeflow

Recreational running is­ pop­ul­ar enough­ to warrant millions of dollars in advertising every year and more in consumer purchases, yet many people still find it boring. But what if taking a morning jog didn't mean training for a marathon or wea­ring short shorts?

What if it meant creative, individual expression through acrobatic moves like leaping from walls and over gaps, ground rolls and precision jumping? Instead of running laps around the community park, you'd navigate through the city, making the urban landscape your personal obstacle course, a playground for strength, freedom, courage and discipline.

That's the basic idea of parkour. And it can be just as exciting and glamorous as it sounds, especially when performed by professionals. But its practitioners, called traceurs (males) and traceuses (females), because of its French origin, see parkour as much more than that.

In this article we'll take a closer look at what parkour is, the philosophy behind it, how it got started and where it's going in the future.

Parkour is an international discipline, sport and hobby that is best described as the art of forward motion in spite of obstacles, or to put it simply: the art of movement. Parkour's chief aim is never to move backward but instead to overcome obstacles fluidly, with strength, originality and speed.