The Parkour and Freerunning scene in the UAE is growing up rapidly, thanks to the media attention and some very dedicated traceurs. Parkour is a non-competitive training discipline using movement that developed out of military obstacle course training. Practitioners aim to move quickly and efficiently past obstacles in their environment, using only their bodies and their surroundings to propel themselves; furthermore, they try to maintain as much momentum as is possible in a safe manner.
The term parkour derives from the French words “parcours du combattant”, the classic obstacle-course method of military training. Although Parkour itself grew out of military obstacle-course training, it has since developed separately. After the attention that Parkour received following the 2006 James Bond’s movie “Casino Royale”, military forces around the world began incorporating elements from parkour into military training. The British Royal Marines hired Parkour athletes to train their members.
Parkour can include running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, and others, depending on what movement is deemed most suitable for the given situation.
The difference between parkour and free running is that practitioners of parkour focus on speed and getting from one place to another as fast as possible, with more efficiency, while free-runners are mostly focused on doing cool tricks while in transit.
David Belle – actor, film choreographer, and stunt coordinator – is considered the founder of Parkour, then developed by David Belle himself, Raymond Belle (David’s father), Sébastien Foucan, and others in the late 1980s. Parkour became popular in the late 1990s and 2000s through films, documentaries, and advertisements featuring these practitioners – called traceurs (males) and traceuses (females), because of its French origin – and others.
Parkour is an individual expression through acrobatic moves like leaping from walls and over gaps, ground rolls and precision jumping. Parkour is not a sport, in that there are no rules, teams, or points. It is not about competition or showing off.
Parkour is the art of movement (art du déplacement in French language). To parkour is to be able to control your body and mind into one being, so that you can find a path quickly, and move your body in a way that the path can be followed into the next path you’re given. If you’re running towards and obstacle and start to slow down in order to maneuver around it, most likely you need to practice more.
Proper technique and training with a coach or an instructor are the keys to prevent in injuries. Start with small things, train yourself under the supervision of expert people and work hard on the fundamentals of the movements. Coaches and trainers will help you in learning faster and safer. Don’t try this alone!
There is a certain amount of fitness required. However you don’t need to be strong or flexible, or even brave. With the right practice and the right teacher, becoming agile, strong and flexible comes naturally. Then what seems like a big jump no longer feels like one, and when bravery would have been needed before, your experience just takes over.
If a beginner wants to start practising the parkour, can easily join the Abu Dhabi Group UAEParkour. No experience is necessary, and training is held weekly at the Corniche. The sessions are free and are open to everyone; there is no specific equipment required, just comfortable, well-fitting running shoes (Converse trainers or flat-soled shoes aren’t suitable) and comfortable clothing.
You can contact coach Hesham, Steve, Zach, and other members of the UAEParkour team in Facebook.
We thank you all the members of UAEParkour for their availability and for hosting us in one of their sessions along the Corniche in Abu Dhabi, UAE.