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Culture and Trends

What Is Parkour, Anyway?

By Andrew Bangs

YouTube Sports

In case you hadn't noticed the athletes sprinting, crawling and vaulting all over our homepage today: we're happy to present videos of the growing sport of parkour, selected by Julie Angel aka SlamCamSpam. Julie is a London-based filmmaker who has been documenting the sport for the past four years, mainly with an organization called Parkour Generations -- a team of incredible athletes based in London, including some first- and second-generation parkour practitioners, dedicated to teaching and displaying the sport.

So, what is parkour? Dan Edwardes, a member of Parkour Generations describes it this way:

"Parkour is the art of moving through your environment using only your body and the surroundings to propel yourself. It can include running, jumping, climbing, even crawling, if that is the most suitable movement for the situation. Parkour could be grasped by imagining a race through an obstacle course, the goal is to overcome obstacles quickly and efficiently, without using extraneous movement."

Parkour traces its origins to Lisses, France, and a soldier named Raymond Belle, who worked to develop efficient methods "to reach or escape." He handed down these lessons to his son David Belle, who has spent a majority of his young (34) life working on these principles, and is featured in one of Julie's 12 selections. The sport, or discipline, has drawn on myriad sources, been inspired by a number of notable individuals and evolved through several traditions to arrive at the modern iteration known as parkour. The sport's beauty and broad appeal may lie in the fact that it's not that different from what we all did as children: run, jump, roll. Parkour turns our confining concrete landscapes into a big playground.

We couldn't help notice the rising profile of parkour on our site and are proud to play a role in spreading it worldwide. The sport's bounding popularity is growing, in part, thanks to the spread of online video sharing, and, well, YouTube. Parkour may be the first such sport in history to have this symbiotic relationship with online video.

We hope this inspires you to learn more. Before you go running into the street, though, please understand that parkour can be dangerous if not practiced correctly, please seek experienced trainers and practice diligently!

Andrew B.