Have you seen this new sport? It’s called parkour and it involves running, jumping, and flipping over every obstacle that you can think of. It looks amazing to see people acting like Spiderman by running up walls, jumping and flipping over buildings and anything else they happen to come across. It reminds me of skateboarding except that you don’t use a skateboard.
This new sport originated in France and has now become popular among college campuses. The word is derived from a French term for obstacle course, which doesn’t really fit what the sport is all about. It is about athletic prowess, style, and skill. In a lot of ways, it parallels skateboarding. Skaters use the man-made environment to do all sorts of tricks, jumps, and manoeuvres. People who do the sport of parkour call themselves traceurs and basically do the same thing.
I remember when I was a kid I used to see karate films where the stars would run up the wall and do a back flip. I was so intriguing by this that I tried running up the wall too. I never tried the back flip part (I was too scared I would kill myself) but I was surprised to find that I could actually run up a wall. If you run towards a wall and bend you toes just right you can actually take three of four steps up the wall. I used to do this in the community centre when I was a teenager and I would get so close to the ceiling that I could actually kick it. It was an amazing feeling.
I still like to run up the wall in the gym occasionally. If I am playing tag with the children I will launch myself off of the wall or take steps across it on my way. The kids call it “Matrix” every time I do it now, in reference to the movie.
I am not about to start this new sport but I can appreciate it. I think that people need to treat this as a sport though. I worry that people might just think that they can run and jump over anything whenever they want. First you need to be able to run. Train yourself to run three to five kilometres so that you have a comfortable pace. Second, you need to train your self on the safe ways to jump and land. Third, you must learn how to fall and ways to protect yourself. Fourth, practice, practice, practice. You need to be a good athlete before you even try to do any high level or tricky manoeuvres.
So get a skateboard and fly through the air, do all sort of fancy manoeuvres and tricks. Or if you can’t afford to buy a skateboard you can learn how to parkour. Just remember that both sports are technical and require training and practice. I don’t think anyone would jump on the ice and try to do figure skating without any training. So be smart, have fun, and get active. Or just be a spectator and appreciate the art and beauty because these sports aren’t for everyone.