What is Parkour? The Best Parkour Guide For Beginners

Well, there are several forms of running and training that one does tend to confuse one with the other. Parkour and free running are two such forms that are mistaken. Not to blame, here is a write up that throws light on parkour and its ideology.

What Is Parkour?

The final answer to this most fundamental question is that parkour is a form of running that has been inspired by the military style of obstacle training. Usually meant for performing in urban space, it involves all forms of movement, making use of whatever is available in the environment. It is believed to lend a new perspective to one on their surroundings.

This form of training aims at bringing out all the natural qualities of a body that can be transformed to enjoy a sport. The human body is considered flexible, agile, resistant, enduring and nimble. It is capable of performing gymnastics every day. One can vault, jump, lift, balance, throw, defend self and swim if initiated into the situation. It is just that some utilize the potential while others don’t.


Doing this sport is not limited to urban environments. It can be done in the forest, mountains, desert, or just practically anywhere as the world are literally the traces playground. His philosophy involves altruism, useful strength, self-understanding, self-improvement, and longevity. Since his goal to efficiently close the distance between two points, movements such as spins, flips, and other aerial acrobatics have no place in this activity. This is because such moves are clearly not the best way to make traverses and they require unnecessary effort and energy.

What are the moves involved?

Well, one cannot make a list of valid moves and invalid moves in this training. It is just meant to listen to natural reflex and agility and let the body proceed with it. Here are a few moves commonly performed by people practicing:

  • Jump over a low wall

  • Jump up a high wall by running towards it and then hauling up the wall with hands.

  • Swing and move to the top of a landing from a bar.

  • Land accurately on small and narrow landings or obstacles.

  • Roll and absorb heavy or large impacts.

  • Vaulting with many variations


Parkour vs. Free running: What Is the Difference?

Well, after my attempt to define it. I will say what it is not.

Parkour  is not about

  • -Jumping from rooftop to rooftop

  • -Impressing others

  • -Pumping adrenalin

  • -Spins, kicks, or other inefficient movements (these are Free running)

I would say that is cannot be entirely defined. Once you know it, you know it. It cannot really be explained, only experienced. You can be told what it is in theory, but I don’t think you can really understand it until you have felt it. Too loosely define it, it is best to use examples.

Parkour  is about

  • -To be able to travel in a straight line, obstacles in your way simply becoming passed.

  • – To be able to find a target spot, and get there efficiently

  • -Efficiency

  • -Freedom


All of this sounds a bit heavy for you? Well, back away because this art will consume your life!. There is a phrase I often like to use when I think or explain it.

‘Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’’

I think this describes the thought process of a traceur quite well. After all, why should a rail be seen as something to restrict your movement? Why should you go around it? Why should you be contained?

This, perhaps, is what separates parkour from free running, which seems like the first on the surface except that additional moves can be incorporated purely for its aesthetic value. While the same  are often used synonymously, their goals and purpose are not the same. Remember that is non-competitive and is merely an activity that provides practitioners another way of exploring and seeing the world, while free running is often used for its acrobatic and aesthetic flairs and may be considered as something similar to a traditional sport.

Safety, Injury & death

Some places ban parkour as they are considered inappropriate, like cemeteries. Gymnasiums, parks and such places are more likely where one can see practitioners. In well populated facilities one always risks trespassing. If considered so, practitioners generally remove themselves from the place as well as their equipments. It is said to be a sign of respect for other people.


There is the problem of people getting injured if they happen to be accidentally in the way. Some people when training underestimate the obstacle or overestimate themselves, often ending up with injuries, fractures, and even death in the worst cases. Rescue teams often find themselves in fitful situations when people try to leap off high buildings and so on. People practicing tend to damage surfaces and other places without knowing their nature.

What  People Think About Parkour?

Some people dislike it. They think that it is simply thugs trespassing on land and doing everything I mentioned in the ‘what is parkour not’ section of this. These people dislike is spawned from them not understanding the art. Prejudice is often formed through ignorance

Another statement I remember is from a documentary on youtube. A traceur said that people often shun them for parkour. People say that they are behaving like animals. Ironically, this is the other way around. You think we behave like animals? Well take a look at yourself for a second. You move through this world taking paths, not going over there because that railing prevents you from doing so. You are restricted. Contained. Trapped like an animal. We, on the other hand are free to move as we please. Obstacles mean opportunity, not prevention.

There is one main thing you should be hoping to achieve as a traceur. You want to learn to become totally free from physical restrictions and to be able to move smoothly over all of the obstacles in your path. You want to move as water does, smoothly washing over everything in its way. This is a concept referred to my most traceurs as ‘the flow’.


People also seem to think that we carelessly damage our surroundings while training. Again, when you look at a wall, what do you see? Something which contains your movement. Just something which is in your way. We traceurs see the opportunity to do the opposite. To create movement. With all due respect, surely we appreciate the wall more than a normal citizen would. Surely we hold far more respect for that wall. We see it’s potential.” l’art du deplacement  “opens your eyes.


Parkour History

Parkour is a non-competitive training that involves running, climbing, vaulting, quadrupedal movement, swinging, and jumping through an obstacle course or natural urban space. It was developed out of a military training program used to teach soldiers how to move through obstacles. Although people such as Raymond Belle, David Belle, and Sebastien Foucan developed parkour primarily in the late 1980s, it did not become popular until the late 1990s and early 2000s through advertisements featuring this lifestyle practitioners and through documentaries about the training discipline. Free running, a more inclusive version of this workouts, which was founded by Foucan in 2003, takes the idea of this art and changes its function to allow the practitioner to express him/herself in his or her environment without the normal limitations of the everyday.

“ Le parcours ” is a phrase derived from the French term “ parcours du combatant ,” which refers to the French military program created by George Hebert that teaches soldiers to move through obstacles. Before and during World War I, Hebert was adamant about promoting athletic skill among French troops. While in Africa, Hebert had met with the indigenous tribes and witnessed their swiftness and agility. He was especially impressed with their ability to move about quickly through any natural environment and realized this was ideal for troops back in Europe. During World War I and World War II, he developed a regimen to grant soldiers this level of athleticism.Watch below the amazing skills that George Hebert has in this period

Born in 1939, Raymond Belle was sent to an orphanage at the age of seven due to the First Indochina War, his mother being Vietnamese. He decided that he had to be strong and courageous there and started training and practicing climbing trees. Raymond Belle would also create his own obstacle courses to strengthen his endurance and speed. While in the military, it was suggested to Belle to become a firefighter, which he did, in Paris in 1958.


David Belle, who would go on to found the parkour tradition as well as become a successful film choreographer and stunt coordinator, learned from his father how to move about obstacles quickly. His father taught him about “le parcours” and David trained daily in forests around his home. Although David started training on his own, others joined him, including Sebastien Foucan amongst others. The training was perfected and passed on to newcomers and the tradition of new lifstyle reached a wider audience. One day while on the set of a film David Belle was working on, he showed a video of himself practicing this new art to the director Hubery Kounde, who was impressed and suggested changing the “c” in “le parcours” to a “k” to make the word sound more dynamic and exciting. Thus, parkour was born. In the late 1990s, David Belle and the other practitioners taped themselves doing amazing moves and dangerous. The footage was aired on several television programs and his popularity soared. Since this happened, he has become practiced all over the world in several different countries. Thanks to the Internet’s interconnectivity. After this challenge, this art becoming practiced worldwide .

Top 4 Parkour Athletes of All Time

1.David Belle

There is no way that any listing of the top athletes would be complete without making sure that David Belle is on that list. He is the founder, and creator, of the sport that has taken the world by storm. His work in movies, such as the Prince of Persia, has helped to gain interest in this highly competitive, active, and challenging sport. His place on any listing is assured because there simply could not be a list of the top 4 parkour athletes without his contributions to the sport by its creation. His place is assured on any listing, and rightly so. His passion, his work, his vision, and his training have made this movement what it is today.Now David Belle is a good actor playing many rules and the video below collect his best moments

2.Ruslan Dzhavadov

Another man must have this list  would be the Russian born Ruslan Dzhavadov. Not only an expert athlete, but also he has served as an inspiration to other athletes. He has traveled the world helping the sport expand, helping create facilities for others to train and learn the mechanics of this fairly new sport. He is a man of boundless energy, drive, determination, and passion for the sport that he loves. Despite his youth, he serves as a role model for many young athletes across the world, which is what earns him a place on any listing.

3.Pavel Petkuns

The third is Pavel Petkuns, born in Latvia, is another who has made a strong mark upon the sport earning him a spot on the top 4 list. His style is unique and energetic. His cat like grace and balance allow him to perform stunts that leave those watching gaping in awe. He continues to push the envelope and improve his own personal skills while the videos he makes helps bring people to this new style of working out. His infectious smile on these videos might be another reason why he is so beloved. He simply loves what he is doing and it shows through in everything that he does.

4.Shaun Wood

At the end we have Shaun Wood is another that has earned a spot on any complete list of the top 4 parkour athletes. He is from Sydney Australia. He helped create Syndey Parkour, a group that trains and practices together. His videos are wildly popular due to his exciting style and energetic approach to the worldwide movement . His passion and his determination are easily seen in all of his videos as his his flair, and unique style. He has contributed greatly to the sport in his home country of Australia, as well as the worldwide growth of the sport. The last spot on such a list must be left open for the new faces constantly coming in to the sport hungry to make their mark. The field of competitors changes rapidly in this industry and the first of  today may not be on top tomorrow. Things really do change that fast in this new growing sport.

Best Places To Practice Parkour & Free running :

One of the best areas to practice parkour or freerunning is a college or university campus. Campuses are usually open, have a variety of terrain options, and many different kinds of buildings, walls, and other obstacles for climbing, jumping and propelling yourself around. A close second to a college or university campus is the campus of a large office park. Although not usually as varied in terms of building or terrain as a college or university campus, an office park can often offer secluded conditions for practicing, especially on weekends when most employees aren’t in the office. The downside of both of these campus options is that security officials and law enforcement have begun to take notice of the sport, and are eager to avoid legal issues with injuries on their property. It is not uncommon for parkour and freerunning enthusiasts to run afoul of campus regulations by practicing their sports. Care should be taken when practicing on these types of properties.


A third place that is very popular for training are multi-story parking garages. These garages are often laid out in a fashion that allows enthusiasts to leap and jump easily from one level to another. Columns are usually plentiful, as well as pipes, girders, and other structural support elements that give the athletes the options to move fluidly through the space. A fourth option for enthusiasts is abandoned or shuttered shopping centers or shopping malls. Multi-story structures are preferred to single-story strip-mall designs, and the relative seclusion of an interior facility can provide the privacy that many athletes desire. Interior mall construction, with its columns, railings, staircases, and multi-level designs offer ideal courses for the sport. The drawback of these locations is, of course, the trespassing issues. In most cases, abandoned buildings are often marked with “no trespassing” signs, and law enforcement officials are keen to prevent any unauthorized access or use.

Although not a traditional favorite among parkour or freerunning enthusiasts, an indoor climbing and terrain gym is a fifth option for practicing the sport, and is often the safest option, although not always the most exciting. The advantages of an indoor course are that it is well maintained, and is often staffed by professionals who can assist in case of injuries or other issues. While experienced enthusiasts might turn up their nose at such an arrangement, it could prove helpful to beginner who is looking to get started in the sport without injuring himself or herself. If you have any questions or suggestions I am honered to hire you in comments