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History of Parkour

Trying to pinpoint the exact moment of the birth of Parkour is no easy task. In fact, it may actually prove impossible. Something as nebulous and indefinable as this thing we practise tends to defy classification.

Suburban towns of Evry, Sarcelles and Lisses, places no different from any other of the hundreds of satellites orbiting the French capital, save for one small fact: these places were home to a group of nine young men widely acknowledged as having crystallized a number of influences to create something then called l’Art du Deplacement, sometime in the 1980s.

Yann Hnautra and David Belle, who drove much of the early training and have since become known as the originators of the art. These childhood friends formed the group which called itself ‘Yamakasi’, a Lingala word meaning ‘Strong man, strong spirit’

In fact, the later term for the discipline ‘parkour’ is perhaps indirectly attributable to Raymond Belle, who introduced his son to the military training methods of Georges Hebert, a man who had a powerful influence on the development of physical education in France

From parcours, meaning ‘course’, came the altered parkour, for which David acknowledges his friend Hubert Kounde as having coined.

Raymond Belle encouraged them both to better themselves, stating that with dedication they could reach their dreams.

2003 that an accurate insight into the depths of the art was released for public consumption when the UK’s Channel 4 produced a ground breaking and award-winning documentary entitled Jump London, featuring Foucan and the Vigroux brothers unleashing their skills upon an unsuspecting London cityscape.

Parkour organisations are keen to impress upon people however, that while parkour was a term intended to liberate people from the limiting, conventional methods of movement and travel, it is just a term.

While communication requires the use of some accepted terminology, what is actually being communicated is far more important than any name or label. Movement is movement, and it is mastery of their own movement and the constant development of their body and mind that they seek through the practise of Parkour.