History of Parkour

APEX Movement APEX Movement Pro Team Member Justin Clark APEX Movement Pro Team Member Justin Clark

Hebert observed the physical prowess of indigenous people in third world countries despite the absence of a workout regiment. It was noted by Hebert that their daily survival activities resulted in highly functional, well rounded athleticism.

A Training Philosophy of Natural Movements

Georges Hebert (1875-1957) was a naval officer and physical educator who traveled the world. Hebert observed the physical prowess of indigenous people in third world countries despite the absence of a workout regiment. It was noted by Hebert that their daily survival activities resulted in highly functional, well rounded athleticism. Based on this idea, Hebert developed the Methode Naturelle (Natural Method), a training philosophy centered around natural movements that could be done anywhere such as swimming, climbing, lifting, and self-defense. Hebert’s physical education ideas were soon adopted into France’s schools and military obstacle courses known as parcours du combattant.

The Art of Movement

One of the soldiers who trained on the parcours du combatant during the Vietnam War was Raymond Belle (1939-1999). Renowned for his courage and selflessness in the military and as a firefighter, Belle’s greatest contribution may have been the knowledge, ideals, and inspiration he passed on to his son David. Raymond Belle’s legacy was created in the form of parkour and l’art du deplacement (art of movement), disciplines that were shaped indirectly by his lifestyle and teachings.

Growing up in the suburbs of Paris (Lisses, Evry, and Sarcelles) was a group of young teens who began to experiment with alternative forms of moving through their urban environment, labeling their name as the Yamakasi and their practice as l’art du deplacement. Early on, the group included David Belle, Yann Hnautra, Châu Belle Dinh, Williams Belle, Sébastien Foucan, Laurent Pietmontesi, Guylain N’Guba Boyeke, Malik Diouf, and Charles Perriére.

From Childhood Games to New Opportunities

Directly inspired by Raymond Belle’s teachings of the Methode Naturelle and his own firefighting experiences, and values such as altruism and self-improvement, the group of boys began developing the fundamental movements and ideals of l’art du deplacement. As childhood games progressed to casual training and eventually, death-defying jumps and acrobatics, the media began to take notice and a world of new opportunities was opened.

 

This article originally appeared on APEX Movement. Republished with permission. To Learn more about parkour, visit apexmovement.com!
Ryan Ford

Ryan Ford is known internationally as a top parkour athlete and coach, having performed around the world for organizations such as the U.S. Embassy, Hewlett-Packard, and K-Swiss. Ryan has been featured by media giants including the New Yorker and ESPN. In addition to founding APEX Movement, Ryan also has a parkour channel on YouTube with over 5 million views. Although Ryan’s specialty is parkour, he has continued his movement education through certifications such as CrossFit, pole fitness, and barefoot running. One of Shape.com’s 50 hottest trainers in 2013, Ryan is an alumni of YouTube's prestigious Next Trainer program and a FitFluential ambassador.