so my local paper has been asking for personal interest pieces from the community so i thought i'd send them one about parkour. i'm tossing it up here for a day or so to see if anyone has suggestions.
also it'd be really handy if someone could post information with which to contact Chad at Monkey Bar. I'd like to ask him if he's ok with me plugging his class.
Some people run for exercise. Some people do gymnastics. Yet other people climb or do track and field. All of these are admirable past times. Recently though a new discipline of movement has stormed onto the sports/fitness scene. This movement is known as Parkour, and is a combination of many of the aforementioned activities. A practitioner of parkour, known as a traceur, trains in ways to move through their environment in the most efficient and fluid way possible. This is achieved through movements and maneuvers that not only take into account obstacles but in many cases turn them to the advantage of someone using Parkour.
By using physics and the mechanics of the body to oneís advantage things such as rails, walls and drop-offs can be changed from barriers to just another path that can be taken. While there are still things that can get in your way the freedom allowed by this discipline is astounding. Equal parts coordination, stamina, and strength can be brought together to turn a restricting environment into a wide open one.
Parkour came into being by that name late in the last century in France. A group of young people adapted a similar method of movement used by lifesaving services and the military to the every day environment of the average person. These pioneers moved parkour into the streets and parks of their hometowns and thus into the limelight. Now there are traceurs on almost every continent (Antarctica being the exception). Parkour continues to grow rapidly since itís birth in France only twenty some years ago.
As with many disciplines that require consistent practice the physical training aspect is not the only one. Mental training is as important as learning the physical movements. The use of Parkour requires confidence in ones abilities and the knowledge of what those abilities are. Without the mental preparation of consistent training a traceur is held below what they are truly capable of.
Yet another aspect of this discipline of motion that appeals to its practitioners is the philosophical aspect that has grown up around it. The ideas of progression and overcoming obstacles are more than just a physical objective to most traceurs. This mentality seeps into many aspects of a traceurís life. In the same way that the practice of progression allows one to build up to advanced techniques by steps, a traceur may be more apt to see a life-goal as a series of stepping stone goals. Parkour as a method of overcoming physical obstacles also promotes the idea that all obstacles can be overcome physical or otherwise. These aspects of parkourís philosophy are the foundations on which many traceurs build their dedication to the sport.
Parkour classes are held on Wednesday evenings at Monkey Bar gym in Madison.
There is an active online community at (http://www.americanparkour.com/smf/index.php/board,206.0.html