Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sub/Urban Landscapes - By Lezah

Well, it was featured in The Sun on Sunday, and in CSI: New York Monday this week, so it's obviously the' big new trend'.

Parkour is a french word meaning 'circuit', and is also the name of a new extreme sport - or, as some prefer to think of it, 'part urban-guerilla movement and part performance art'.  Actually, it turns out it's not new at all:  parkour was first developed in France 15 years ago by two men named Sebastian Foucan and David Belle, who are still practitioners.  The people who participate in this sport are called 'traceurs', and the sport has since spread to Britain (where it is also called 'free-running') as well as urban settings in North America.

Parkour involves jumping, leaping, running and flipping over the elements of the concrete jungle that most of us wouldn't give a second glance to; handrails, gaps between buildings, stairs, what have you - everything is fair game when it comes to being incorporated in a parkour. It's done with fearlessness as well as a grace and fluidity that one might expect to see at the ballet.  And not everyone can do this, either:  traceurs train and run together, and don't encourage 'newbies' to join them until they're fit, trained and ready.  There is an element of risk involved, scrapes, bruises and broken bones being the most common.

Of course, looking at it, the activity itself isn't new - it's just the setting that is different.  For eons young people have grown up running, leaping, and swinging, sometimes in forests, sometimes at the lake, or on a farm, or even through suburban construction sites.  It's the urban aspect that's new, and since parkour is potentially very public, this also helps to make it more impactful in our society today.

For more information go to www.urbanfreeflow.com.

No comments: