Discovering Parkour

I recently discovered the exciting sport of Parkour and thought I would give my readers a short introduction to it. You will see its influence on some of my designs in the near future.

Parkour is a term derived from a French term describing running combined with traversing military style obstacle course training. Parkour practitioners use nothing but themselves and their environment to propel themselves through their environment, often in displays of gymnastic and acrobatic ability. While the origination of Parkour seems to be mostly based on French methods of physical training popularized in the 90′s, it has existed in various forms since men have been running. I can remember the TV show “It Takes a Thief” and “Mission Impossible” as a kid using various Parkour like techniques to entertain the viewers.

None the less watching a proficient Parkour practitioner is most exhilarating and entertaining as obvious by the prolific number of “Parkour Videos” on YouTube. If you search the term you will turn up over 5 million videos, just 1 of which had over 41 million viewers! Many of the best videos I’ve able to find seem to come from Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Russia being two of the most prolific suppliers of young talented Parkour performers. In a sport with no formal grading system the skill of the Parkour performer is often very subjective, many times the only real determination of the “winner” is the number of people viewing or commenting on the videos of the Parkour performers themselves. So with many of the best Parkour performers looking for affirmation of their skill they post videos to YouTube. With so many postings each performer is looking to set himself apart from others and show his ability to “out perform” other Parkour practitioners. This has led to an escalation of sorts in the number of truly spectacular and potentially dangerous, even life threatening stunts being performed for the throngs of adoring viewers.

One such viewer that has taken an interest is my 6 year old son, he can and will wile away as many hours as I let him watching Parkour videos. While I do not find it nearly as entertaining as my 6 year old son, I have discovered that he will try to emulate these young men and women. At first this scared me, seemed dangerous for him to be trying these stunts.

I soon came to realize though that they were really just improvements on the same stunts I did as a boy. I was amazed by Evel Knievel and tried to ramp many a bicycle over many object as a young boy. I even got hurt a few times. That is why god made kids so resilient in my opinion, so as kids we can learn from a mistake that if made as an adult would leave us in the hospital for a week or two! The best part is this habit of watching videos on YouTube has promoted my son to much higher levels of physical activity when he does play outside. This in turn as made him more physically fit and dexterous. His “Parkour Moves” are actually very good for a 6 year old with no formal training.

This led me to want to support my son and encourage him. Want to join in? Check out the great resource http://ultimateparkourgear.com to get what you need to practice safely. My sons favorite shoes for parkour are the Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81s.

So I called on my own physical training. I spent many years studying Ninjitsu. A quick study of Ninjitsu and its history will let you know that Parkour has been around in one form or another for at least 400 years and I suspect it is even longer. The combat rolls and hide techniques taught me by my Sensei are very similar to the techniques learned by my son on YouTube.  Surprising my son with a combat roll performed to perfection? Priceless!