For my english class last week we had to write and argumentative paper, so I decided to do mine on parkour. I figured that some people might be interested, and I wanted some feed back from the comunity, so I'm posting the paper and bibliography. enjoy
Parkour, derived from an early 20th century French military obstacle drill called parcours that has morphed in the past decade into a melding of running, gymnastics and every chase scene you've ever watched in an action movie. It is otherwise known as l'art du déplacement, (the art of movement (4), or by its anglicized, tricking centered form of freerunning. Its modern form was created by a son of a French officer who learned parcours and Lisses, the town that he lived in (4).
When most people see a proficient traceur (a practitioner of parkour), the first thing they think of is the pure awsomeness of what they witnessed. The second think they think of, if they even think of it at all, is the inherent danger that comes with such a sport. This paper is to prove that although there are inherent risks involved, they are usually not life-threatening if the person trains carefully and smartly.
The first danger that comes to mind is that of falling. This is a danger as even pro traceurs can fall, but the biggest danger is to those that train in a dangerous area and don’t know the terrain.
In early November, Kenneth Ta, a 15-year-old cross country runner at Franklin High School in Elk Grove, fell to his death from an eight-story parking structure in midtown Sacramento. He was alone at the time, Sacramento County coroner's officials say, but friends told The Bee he often practiced parkour. "It rocked the parkour world," says Mark Toorock, 37, a Washington, D.C., gym owner and one of America's leading parkour figures. "Of course, I'm saddened that a kid lost his life. But if he was doing what he thought was parkour and made a mistake, then he was misinformed. "Are there people who train on the fifth floor of parking garages? Yes. But they've been training for years and understand their capabilities and have vaulted over rails thousands of times.” “The proliferation of extreme parkour videos on Web sites such as YouTube may be giving novice traceurs unrealistic instruction”, Toorock says."There are guys I know who'll do things that appear dangerous because they've practiced them so many times," he says. "Is it dangerous? Well, not for him. But for you? Maybe." (1)
This was obviously a tragedy, however, as Mr. Toorock stated, he was probably operating under false assumptions, as well as training in a bad place. Another thing to consider is that: exceptional strength and balance are required to avoid injury.(3)
Another problem that most people besides business owners and some of the smarter practitioners themselves consider is the possibility of property damage or being sued for injuries. This can be easily solved by smarts and basic common sense.
When Doug Pryor, one of the more advanced traceurs, bounded up a slippery 12-foot wall and popped up on a classroom roof, LoForte shooed him down."We don't go on roofs here," LoForte says. "We don't want to get kicked out, and there's also the safety thing." Yes, the safety thing. Some business and other property owners frown on having their property used as a playground the same issues they have with skateboarders. (1)
So obviously with a little common sense and some courtesy most of these problems can be avoided.
Now we will get into the advantages of parkour.
In addition to the freedom, there is the fact that it is free.
No electricity, no computers, no treadmills, no giant health clubs. (5)
Basically, there are no expenses in the traditional sense of the word.
And then of course is the fun aspect of it that hearkens back to the days of childhood playground “obstacle courses”.
But the ideal canvas for parkour is the landscape itself. It's a return, Toorock says, to a simpler time – not cave-man days, just your childhood. "From a young age, 8 or 9, we're told not to go out and play anymore," he says. "You must be in organized sports. Play becomes unacceptable in public. If you're out simply having fun, it's frowned upon. We're out to change that." (1) It's the joy of not putting away childish things."People forget that movement is fun," he said. "Play is no longer acceptable. I'm 39 years old. People see me in a playground they think I'm insane." "Meanwhile I enjoy my life," he said. "I have fun." (2) There are few restrictions and rules. Parkour harks back to the type of unregulated play we enjoyed as children. (5)
Two other things to consider are the mental and physical advantages.
In parkour, having good hand-eye coordination is necessary, as well as the ability to think on the run, literally.
A high degree of mental and physical strength is required because obstacles are usually overcome while on the run. (3)
As a person continues to practice parkour, these traits will begin to become more developed.
As society has advanced technologically, it has gotten lazier. “One hundred years ago we had to do everything with our bodies. We worked to get lumber and stones for building a house. We had to work with our hands, we had to run, we had to crawl under things, we had to swim. The efforts of everyday living kept the body in shape. But now, because almost everything is done with machines, people have become lazy."(5)
Parkour is a way to move yourself in world that has been accustomed to being moved, it is finding your own way in a world that has its way found for it.
In conclusion, the risks of parkour are no greater than that of any other sport when approached maturely, and the benefits may be greater than that of many if not all standard sports.
(1) Parkour: The world is their training groundhttp://www.sacbee.com/384/story/2417458.html
(2) In parkour, the city is the gymhttp://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5941C420091005
(3) Leap, Jump to Fitnesshttp://www.baltimoresun.com/health/fitness/sns-health-parkour-sport,0,4355799.story
(4) Parkour http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkour
(5) Turn Your Urban Environment Into a Fitness Playground with Parkour. http://planetgreen.discovery.com/travel-outdoors/urban-environment-fitness-playground.html