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Parkour: a new expression

If you don’t know about the latest in urban transportation then go to Parkour. It is about art and physics, about the power of the Net and about the new world. Parkour, or “free running”, captures the imagination and it is fascinating to watch. But without the Internet this new-age movement would not be getting as much attention as it does.

I think this new physical expression deserves all the embrace that it is currently receiving, and I love that the fact that the online world has helped to expose these new artists and athletes. What is even cooler is that we even have a local Parkour chapter right here in South Africa.

I downloaded an episode of Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear off the Net the other day and in that episode a race between two Parkour dudes and a new Peugeot car was featured. The two teams had to get across the built-up concrete jungle of a city in Liverpool and the Parkour athletes won. You got to see this with your own eyes – it was stunning.

Sébastien FoucanParkour has its origins in France, developed by two men, Sébastien Foucan and his friend David Belle. These are great sportsmen who have inspired a new way of living, and of expression. And the world has taken note. My bet is that Hollywood will soon be bringing us a Parkour movie, just like that brought us a snowboarding movie, and skateboarding film, and a surfer story.

Parkour is heavily influenced by Asian philosophy – it is about becoming “fluid like water”. Free running’s ambassador is Sébastien Foucan. He says “Nobody ever invents anything – you’re inspired and sometimes you can improve!” He believes in the concept of “No violence, no competition, no groups, no chiefs.” Life is made of obstacles and challenges, and to overcome them is to progress.

If you become skilled at Parkour you gain something for the rest of life. Foucan created and named many of the signature Parkour moves, including The Art of Displacement, Tic Tac, Precision Leap, 360 Leap, Cat Leap, Wall Jump, Reverse and Flowing Leap. Foucan sounds like an amazing human being. For example, he met the French minister of sport to discuss raising awareness of Parkour and he initiated the installation of an indoor practice facility.

Foucan says that the most important advice about Parkour is to learn to follow your own path, your intuition, to make your progress step by step. He says that one link alone is nothing – humanity must be made up of a large chain. If you discover something positive while doing Parkour, you should pass it on to others! Lastly, he reminds us that we must not forget to have a sense of fun, which is central to Parkour.

According to the Parkour website, “Parkour isn’t a fashion phenomenon; it’s an evolution of the mind.” And on the lighter side of all this high-tech physical expression, consider our local footskating artists. Now that is Parkour West Rand style.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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