Parkour: An Overview
Parkour is a physical discipline inspired by human movement, focusing on fast, efficient forward motion over, under, and around obstacles in one’s environment. Such movement may come in the form of running, jumping, climbing, and quadrupedal motion. The goal of Parkour is to adapt one’s movement to any given obstacle and situation.
Parkour has two mottos: être et durer (to be and to last) and être fort pour être utile (be strong to be useful).
History and Philosophy
In the early 20th century, former French naval officer Georges Hébert developed the méthode naturelle, a system of physical education inspired by the agility and endurance of indigenous peoples he met during his travels in Africa. Hébert’s “natural method” focused on developing the fundamentals of human movement: walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal motion, climbing, balancing, throwing, lifting, self-defense, and swimming.
On May 8, 1902 the town of Saint-Pierre, Martinique, where he was stationed, suffered a volcanic eruption. Hébert coordinated the escape and rescue of some 700 people. This experience had a profound effect on him, and reinforced his belief that athletic skill must be combined with courage and altruism. He eventually developed this ethos into his motto: “être fort pour être utile” (be strong to be useful). — Wikipedia.org
Hébert’s system expanded to become the standard for military education and training in France during World Wars I and II, and also led to the design of the parcours, or obstacle course, for soldiers and firefighters. Today, civilian versions of parcours have manifested in fitness trails and ropes courses.
Parkour was developed in Lisses, France by David Belle, influenced by his father Raymond Belle, a firefighter and former soldier famous for his courage and many daring rescues.
The physical aspect of Parkour is getting over all the obstacles in your path as you would in an emergency. You want to move in such a way, with any movement, as to help you gain the most ground on someone or something, whether escaping from it or chasing toward it.
– David Belle
At its core, the philosophy of Parkour contains the principles of endurance (durer) and utility (utile).
Parkour trains the whole body and mind and is intended to guide participants toward a lifetime of fitness. Traceurs and traceuses, dedicated practitioners of Parkour, are complete, balanced athletes who strive to improve each day and use their abilities to help others.
About UMass Parkour
The UMass Parkour RSO formed in the spring of 2008 with the mission of bringing together students and community members interested in learning and practicing Parkour. We aim to provide a space where anyone can gather on a regular basis to train, attain greater physical and mental strength, and rediscover the basic foundations of human movement.
During the regular academic year, UMass Parkour meets four times a week (Monday-Thursday) in the evenings (6:00-7:30) for conditioning sessions and hosts regional jams 1-2 Saturday/ Sunday afternoons per month (see facebook.com/umparkour).
Unless otherwise announced, our meeting location is outside the lobby of the Fine Arts Center facing Haigis Mall, rain or shine.
Everyone is welcome to join any training session, no matter what level of fitness. Be sure to wear non-restrictive clothing that is easy to move around in. You do not need to pay any dues or buy any special equipment to train with us; just come with an open mind and positive attitude!