Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

History of Parkour

From the late 1980s in Lisses, France and nearby, a group of friends and family transformed the games they played as children into something even more powerful. In 1989, to describe their activity, early members of the group would say: “je fais du parcours”, “I am following the course”.

Parcours was a term with special meaning for the first of the group, David Belle, because of its link to his father Raymond Belle (1939-1999). [1]

In Lisses, as with any town, a group of teenage boys might have been discouraged from running, jumping, climbing, vaulting and swinging around the place where they lived. But this group of friends had repeatedly shown humility and respect for their surroundings and other people. As a result, they were not discouraged from developing their practice.

By the mid 1997, the group had grown to include David Belle, Williams Belle, Chau Belle Dinh, Malik Diouf, Sébastien Foucan, Yann Hnautra, Guylain N’Guba-Boyeke, Charles Perriere and Laurent Piemontesi. This group had all adopted a new name for their movement-based practice: Art Du Déplacement, “the art of moving from one place to another”, which was suggested by Sébastien. The group was known as the Yamakasi, (Lingala for “strong man, strong spirit), a name suggested by Guylain. These names became known to a wider public during the group’s first broadcast media coverage on France’s Stade 2, in 1997.

Art Du Déplacement was also used to describe the movements of the seven Yamakasi who starred in the 2001 film of the same name.

As the founding members of the Yamakasi emphasized their diverse interests— including efficiency, utility, creativity and showmanship—other names came to the fore.

David Belle and others started using the term Parkour (invented by Hubert Koundé) in 1998, to describe parcours with a proper noun. Practitioners of Parkour later became known as traceurs [from "tracing": to follow, or mark, a path]. The term Parkour became known to the world with David Belle’s performance in the 2004 film Banlieue 13.

Starting with the 2003 documentary “Jump London”, Sébastien Foucan used freerunning as the means to describe the addition of creative movements, often drawn from a variety of other movement disciplines.

L’Art Du Déplacement continues to be used, and has come to represent a training method to (re)discover who you really are as well as to understand the mechanisms of the outside world.

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[1] A highly-decorated élite member of the Paris fire brigade, Raymond Belle used the term “le parcours” to describe his own philosophy of physical training. Inspiring others, Raymond put his training to great use in performing many notable rescues.

[source: http://themouvement.org/about.html]

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