Urban sport

BBC News: Parkour craze reaches new heights.

A young man stands poised on the edge of a roof, two storeys above the hard concrete of a London street. He rocks back on to one foot and with a sharp intake of breath his body snaps into action, clearing the void below. His fingertips hook the bottom edge of an adjacent balcony; hand-over-hand he climbs the railing, finding footholds where none appear to exist. He vaults neatly over the top of the rail and disappears into the shadows. Welcome to the art of Parkour.

Parkour involves finding new ways of crossing an urban landscape – vaulting, leaping and climbing, with a grace and fluidity of movement more akin to dance than sport. But it is much more than an adrenalin-pumped pastime – described by its leading exponents as a philosophy, or even a way of life. David Belle, 33, is widely credited with having founded the sport as a teenager in the Parisian suburb of Lisses. He described the built-up environment as his "playground" and said he found freedom by breaking out of the physical constraints of his surroundings. "We know what it’s like at ground level, we’ve been walking the same paths for years. But no-one has ever taken this route," he said in a television interview.

There is a good animation of three Parkour moves on the main article, and a link to a photo-story. The upcoming Bond film Casino Royale includes a Parkour chase sequence, but if you want more, go and see District B13, (in French with subtitles), which has David Belle as the main character. It is stunning to watch, the chases, speed, and athleticism is amazing. The story isn’t bad either.

You can watch these trailers online featuring Parkour:

Wouldn’t you love to do that?