Parkour (also called Le Parkour, PK, or free running) is a quasi-sport in which participants attempt to clear all obstacles in their path in the most fluid manner possible.
A traceur is a participant of parkour. The term free-runner has been commonly adopted by the media following the use of the term by Sebastien Foucan in Jump London. The same program led to the use of another term, free-running. The term free-running has been widely used by journalists to describe parkour-like activity, but which commonly features more emphasis on 'showy' moves than are a feature of genuine parkour.
The ultimate goal in parkour is to ‘flow’ along one’s path, for the entire journey to be as one fluid movement with no pauses or breaks. A principal rule of parkour is to never go backwards. Traceurs believe that there is a path to every obstacle which is achieved through forward movement.
The magnitude and technicality of a move in parkour are secondary to the flow and beauty of it. Explains Jerome Ben Aoues, one of the traceurs featured in the acclaimed Channel 4 documentary Jump London, “The most important thing really is the harmony between you and the obstacle; the movement has to be elegant, that's what will make it prettier. Length and distance only add to the beauty of the move, if you manage to pass over the fence elegantly that's beautiful, rather than saying ‘I jumped the lot.’ What's the point in that?”
To many, parkour is an extreme sport, to others a discipline more comparable to martial arts, to others an art form akin to dance, a way to encapsulate human movement in its most beautiful form. Parkour also inspires freedom; being free in an urban environment designed to trap, not restricted by railings, staircases, even buildings. (See Situationist). It is for many people a way of life.
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