A Complete History of Parkour and How It Has Evolved!

By Chris / September 7, 2016

All About How Did Parkour Start And Evolve

Parkour, a freestyle running, is a combination of both athletic expertise and physical development. The Parkour was officially originated in France by David Belle, but the story behind the starting point is somewhat exciting and motivating. Parkour has grown tremendously in the past twenty years or so.  What really gained internet fame through viral videos has advanced into it’s own lifestyle.  Before we begin, it should be mentioned that you should look at obtaining the proper parkour equipment before beginning.  I recommend checking out some shoes and parkour gloves as well!  But, now let’s explore deeply the history of Parkour running and its growth.

parkour history origin

Origin Of Parkour Training

In 1902, before World War I, a shattering volcanic eruption takes place on Caribbean island of Martinique. It destroyed the town of St. Pierre and killed 28000 persons in its flash. When the whole city was fighting against the tragedy, a young French naval lieutenant George Hebert valiantly faced the situation and coordinated with the people for evacuation. He helped to evacuate over 700 people, including both Indigenous and Europeans, out of the town.

When the people were moving out of the town, George experienced something that had put a profound effect on his mind. He noticed that the indigenous population is overcoming the obstacles in the way with ease and grace whereas the Europeans are facing difficulty in passing through the barriers. They were finding the familiar pathways which were vanished by the volcanic eruption. He realized that the modern man had lost all the efficiency and effectiveness to move and face the physical challenges.

All the experience that George had observed reinforced his belief that athletic skills and physical conditioning are must be for a person, and it should be joined with full courage and altruism. Here, was the first rise to the origin slogan of Parkour, “Etre fort pour et utile”- “Be strong to be useful”.

The sense of bravery and heroism George noticed was deep rooted in his heart, and he was continued to be impressed by the physical development and movement skills of indigenous tribes in Africa. And with time, George formulated his physical training discipline called the “Natural Method” that involves running, climbing, swimming, man-made obstacle courses to restore in the typical environments. George’s training laid the foundation for the modern day parkour.

Recognition Phase Of Parkour

The George Hebert’s Natural Method became the first organized obstacle training course and was applied as a base training for the French military. Inspired by this useful class training, the French units transformed the slogan as “Parcours du combattant”- “Path of the warrior”.

Later on, Raymond Belle, a Firemen and Veteran of French Special forces, altered the teachings of “Natural Method” and the Discipline of “Parcours du combattant” and trained his son David Belle and David’s best friends. Soon, David and his friends completed Raymond’s new training course in the natural environments and provided a new birth to the Parkour running.

Afterward, David Belle and his best friend, Sebastian Foucan, made an organized group of traceurs- “The Yamakasi” and soon the group gained a big fan following in France. A filmmaker Luc Besson made a film “The Yamakasi” that accelerated the growth of Parkour. It was the time when the sport gained popularity. But the two friends David Belle and Foucan split apart and decided their ways. Foucan while proficient in English brought this discipline to UK and named it “Free Running” whereas the David continued to call it “Parkour”.

Later on, both the practitioners appeared in many interviews, movies, TV Shows as a guidance to their fans that pushed the game ahead. David and Foucan re-appeared in many films like District B-13, Casino Royale. It was the phase when people realized that there is something great in this sport, and they must step forward into it.

Later on, many enthusiasts and graduated students came up with their training classes with more or less alteration to the style. That’s how we got the modern day Parkour.

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