There’s something extraordinarily jaw-dropping about the dexterity of parkour practitioners. Their ability to seemingly defy gravity, to manoeuvre effortlessly and gracefully from one obstacle to the next is impressive to behold. Of course, there are dangers, but one could argue the same about most sports where the human limits are being constantly stretched.
I use the word ‘sport’ here deliberately following the announcement on Tuesday that the UK has become the first country to recognise Parkour, or freerunning, as such.
I was fortunate enough to take a group of teenage Explorer Scouts to an introductory session at Parkour Generations in London last October. It was fascinating to see how a diverse group of young people, boys and girls, different ages, varying heights, wide-ranging natural abilities, could unite while trying this new activity for the first time.
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of London life, Parkour Generations is located at Trinity Buoy Wharf in the Docklands area. Just behind lies London’s only lighthouse, offering a breath-taking view of the Thames across to North Greenwich.
Entering the centre immediately reveals just what effort is required to make the leap into freerunning. A daunting collection of boxes, pipes, ladders, slants and other assorted obstacles seems a daunting prospect at first. The centre’s parkour instructors put it quickly into context with an impassioned introduction and a thorough warm-up session, giving a clearer understanding on how the body is expected to perform these miracles of movement.
Over two hours, this group of Scouts got to grips with the basics of freerunning, and some appeared to have a real knack for it. Others were happy enough to have the chance to give it a go. Back in October, parkour hadn’t attained sport status but it certainly offered this group of young people the same benefits as any other sport. Physical exercise, skill, concentration and even teamwork at times, created a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Sounds like a sport in my book.
“An amazing step,” is how Parkour Generations described yesterday’s announcement on its own blog. It’s a modest description for a sport that has come on, literally, in leaps and bounds in recent years. It will be interesting to see how it – and its audiences – develop from now on.
Written by SQN’s Client Services Director Chris Hughes
Find out more about parkour by visiting the National Governing Body for Parkour/Freerunning in the UK: http://parkour.uk/what-we-do/what-is-parkour/
Parkour Generations: http://parkourgenerations.com/