Parkour has its roots in the Parisian suburbs (Evry, Sarcelles and Lisses), where a group of young people have been welded together by the core idea of constantly facing new challenges. It is widely recognised that 9 members of this group have founded a discipline, that is still being practiced in this form today – l’art du déplacement.
The group called itself Yamakasi, a word originating from Lingala (Congolese dialect) meaning “strong body, strong mind”.
The term “parkour” (derived from parcours) is influenced by Raymond Belle, the father of one of the Yamakasi (David Belle). Raymond had introduced David to the training methodology of Georges Hébert, a pioneer in the field of military training methodology who, among other things, had a great influence on the development of classical gymnastics and sports teaching in France. “Parkour” as a term was suggested by David’s friend, Hubert Kounde.
The Yamakasi were regarded as savages, but their training was anything but wild, because it focused not only on strength and endurance, but also on a high degree of precision and control. As physical boundaries were gradually tested and expanded, the Yamakasi came to the attention of the media.
In 2003 the documentary “Jump London” was broadcast, which included Sébastien Foucan, member of the Yamakasi (and later Bond villain) as well as the brothers Vigroux. In the documentary, these young men showed parkour at some of London’s most famous sights. In order to make the english speaking audience understand what parkour exactly is, the word “Freerunning” was introduced as a direct translation.
Since then, parkour has exploded. Just think of all the movies, video games or music videos. With this explosion of popularity, the defining lines of what parkour exactly is blurred and so the fear arose that the original values of parkour could become gradually lost.
Current developments revolve around the inclusion of parkour in the summer olympics. A development that is seen very critically especially with regards to the history and diversity of parkour and especially within the worldwide parkour community (We Trace and the ÖPFV being part of it).