Parkour Week: A Running Start

Hello and welcome to a few days devoted to showing off  parkour! It’s a discipline of movement that focuses on getting from point A to point B as efficiently and effectively as possible – physically and mentally. All week I’ll be highlighting certain aspects of parkour, largely revolving around UMass’ own Parkour Club, and the actions of members therein.

But as a little background, modern parkour has its origins with a French naval officer named Georges Hébert, who, after helping evacuate residents of a town affected by a volcano eruption, developed the motto of “Être fort pour être utile”, or, “Being strong to be useful.” However, some of the basic concepts of parkour can be found all throughout history, like in one particular instance, Japanese ninjitsu.

A very important distinction to make right off the bat is that parkour is intended to be a non-competitive art, not a sport, yet there are recent developments to make competitive parkour, as seen with Red Bull’s “Art of Motion,” or MTV’s “Ultimate Parkour Challenge.” These shows have sort of been a point of contention among traceurs (the French term for one who practices parkour), because while getting the image of parkour out to the masses, the messages of self-improvement and personal growth are sort of thrown by the wayside.

A common comparison to the tenets of parkour would be Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, where it is a method of using the most effective methods of movement with the maximum efficiency, while also helping to shape the user in new ways of perceiving the world around them.

And here I thought it was just about vaulting tables.

Stay tuned, more to come tomorrow.

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