Parkour: The sport that is or isn’t?

I hadn’t even heard of Parkour until someone mentioned it on American Ninja.  Then I saw it on an episode of Tosh.O.  Except in the Tosh.O clip, it was a girl who tried to Parkour up a wall but missed and hit her head. 

But if you do it right, Parkour is a little like crazy skateboarding hijinks except without the skateboard.  You have to be strong and agile.  And you have to scale walls and jump off elevated surfaces … alright, so maybe it isn’t like skating boarding at all.  Except that both have a large probability of ending in a spectacular crash …

I recently found out that my Colorado cousins are into Parkour lite.  I watched him climb around a large rock using nothing more than his fingertips.  Seriously!  He held up his entire body using only his fingertips! 

I watched him change directions by running full speed into a tree then bouncing off in a new direction.  He spent our entire hike slow walk exploring a stream.  Jumping from one side to the other.  And leaping from boulder to boulder … well, you are starting to get the idea.  And in his spare time, he runs 5 miles cross-country.  Except they live in Colorado.  So cross-country is more like running up a mountain and back down.  

But what actually is Parkour?  If we turn to the always trusty and never manipulated Wikipedia:

Parkour is a physical discipline and non-competitive activity which focuses on efficient movement around obstacles … the main purpose of the discipline is to teach participants how to move through their environment by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing, and leaping.

Is anyone else entertained by the definition that this sport focuses on efficient movements?  With this logic, one can assume that I waste motions because I choose to walk around buildings instead of climbing up and over? 

Anyway, one of the biggest principles in Parkour is to never stop moving.  Jump from ledge to balcony to wall to roof.  No pausing to, you know, breathe.  Or get your balance. 

There are no set moves, although a couple of the coolest ones have names like Monkey Vault, Quadrupedal Movement and Tic Tac.  Instead, each obstacle is approached independently using momentum to propel across large spans and absorption (i.e. a body roll) to keep moving after jumping down from impossible heights.   

Parkour is also starting to get famous.  The James Bond movie, Casino Royale featured a Parkour.  What you thought was just an awesome chase scene where they bounce object to object, was actually Parkour.  In fact, the ‘bad guy’ in the movie, Sebastien Foucan, is one of the original founders of Parkour.

Even the military is starting to get involved.  I’m not sure if the military recognizes that Parkour is a great way to get in shape or if they assume that the bad guys will start running around and jumping off of buildings, but they are starting to incorporate Parkour into their training.  Although, I think that the public would be better served if we taught the police Parkour.  Imagine a robbers surprise if the chasing police were to suddenly appear in front of them, having scaled a building instead of following around the side. 

While the closest thing to a competition is the American Ninja show, I fully expect Parkour to someday be an Olympic sport.  When that happens, remember you heard it here first.

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