Parkour: Everything you need to know and how you can get into it

The UK has become the first country to officially recognise parkour as a sport.

Parkour, also known as freerunning, involves athletes somersaulting and diving between buildings and across urban terrains - and its recognition as a sport may open the window to new funding and growth in the UK.

So what is parkour? And how can you get into it?

It's French

Parkour was founded in France in the 1980s by a group of nine men - including Sebastien Foucan who is speaking in the video above - and originally called Art du Deplacement.

The term parkour was coined in 1998 according to Parkour UK, deriving from the French word parcours meaning "route" or "course". The term freerunning was only coined in 2003 to try to communicate the sport to an English-speaking audience.

It's all about movement and fitness

Freerunners doing handstands
It's fair to say you have to be in pretty good shape (Jon Buckle/EMPICS Sport)

Parkour UK, the governing body, says the sport requires athletes to "move freely over and through any terrain using only the abilities of the body".

The sport mainly takes place in an urban environment with participants running, climbing and jumping through the area pre-dominantly in a non-competitive and expressive way. In case you're wondering what this looks like - there's some examples in the video below.

It's all about health and safety

Boy learns basics of parkour
Freerunners train inside before taking to the streets (Laura Lean/PA)

Parkour has come under fire in the past because of injuries sustained by its participants, but Parkour UK says it is about building "confidence, determination, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility for one's actions" and encouraging "humility, respect for others and for one's environment, self-expression, community spirit, and the importance of play, discovery and safety at all times".

Phil Smith, director of sport at Sport England, said: "The safety and enjoyment of those taking part is paramount, so congratulations to Parkour UK on achieving the standards and showing their ambition to grow even further."

You've probably seen it before

Sebastien Foucan
Recognise this guy? (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Just in case you were wondering where you recognised Foucan from in that video earlier - he's that bloke James Bond chases at the start of Casino Royale.

Casino Royale GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Parkour isn't uncommon in films either. Trained stuntmen and women perform some of the toughest of freerunning stunts in movie titles such as the Jason Bourne films, Prince of Persia and, most recently, Assassin's Creed.

Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender stars in the video game remake (Ian West/PA)

Want to win at Ninja Warrior UK? Well it helps to do parkour for that, too...

How to get into it

Before you go running about town attempting backflips your best and safest bet is to get in touch with a local group or organisation who can teach you the basics before you head out on to tougher terrain. For example,  Level Up Academy is one of many places where you can take part in the UK from any age.

The UK has 50 parkour parks and an array of parkour organisations that can help you get into the sport. Parkour UK offers an interactive map which can help you find the nearest one.

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