This is a guest post by Si Quan, who co-founded Breakdance Decoded.
Despite its increasing popularity, there are still plenty of people who have severe misconceptions about what parkour is.
I can’t blame them.
After all, when one hears the word parkour, one remembers countless of YouTube videos of young, reckless millennials scaling skyscrapers and dangling off rooftops.
While there are certainly traceurs (the word used to describe parkour practitioners) who enjoy scaling buildings, parkour isn’t about daredevil stunts for the sake of showing off.
On the contrary, parkour is all about safe and efficient movement to get from Point A to Point B in the fastest way possible. As such, doing pullups on industrial cranes does not fall into that bucket of “safe” and “efficient”.
That is merely one of the many misconceptions people have about parkour.
So, today, I am going to bring you through several of these myths, and systematically break them apart for you.
5 Common Parkour Myths You Probably Believe (And Will Be Debunked)
1. Parkour is dangerous
Source: Amos Rendao
The risks of getting injured in parkour is as high as any typical sport you know (e.g basketball, soccer, etc.)
But there is a slight difference. Parkour ACTUALLY teaches you how to be safe.
Because the philosophy of parkour is all about learning how to control yourself in response to the environment. It is all about moving efficiently, and reducing injury. It’s about understanding where your physical limits are and having the discipline to refrain from doing dangerous stunts where it is not necessary.
It’s about understanding the risk of failure – and how to mitigate it.
Furthermore, one of the values of parkour and art du déplacement is “To be and to last”. Meaning it’s all about training to ensure longevity in the game, continuously making sure that traceurs can continue moving when when they are 70, 80 or 90 years old.
In fact, a key fundamental in parkour is the art of Ukemi (aka the art of falling.) Through learning Ukemi, parkour students are able to practice safe, intentional, deliberate falls that reprograms the brain to react optimally in the scenario where falls occur.
At MOVE Academy Singapore, we emphasize the importance of safety and the instructors keep a close eye on all the students to prevent them from pushing past their limits and getting injured.
2. Only fit and young people can do parkour
Parkour is a philosophy, a way of life and an activity that can help you get stronger and fitter. It’s not about pulling off the most impressive stunts and showing off your skills.
Which means — anybody, no matter what age, can do parkour.
As long as you are striving for improvement in your health and fitness, parkour can be a choice – much like how running, swimming and playing basketball can be a choice.
In fact, at MOVE Academy Singapore, we have a community of students from diverse backgrounds – from 12 years old to 64 years old. In this community, we practise the value “We start together, we finish together”.
Training is as much a group experience as it is an individual journey. Training together helps us to further push our physical and mental boundaries, providing one another with support and encouragement. No matter who you are, we always look out for our fellow practitioners, and we always extend a helping hand to make sure everyone finishes what they started.
Bottom line is – even if you think you’re unfit or old, don’t worry, the community will train with you, look out for you and you won’t be left behind.
Watch this video of two of our older students (58 and 64 years old), and be prepared to get inspired:
3. Girls can’t do parkour
Parkour is still a male-dominated discipline – and that can make it extremely intimidating for females who are interested to try.
But while it can be scary to participate, it doesn’t mean girls can’t do it.
In fact, parkour is all about adapting movements to your own style. Every traceur has his or her own style that is suited for their own body types. As long as you put in enough hard work and dedication, you, no matter what gender, will be able to find a style that is fun and enjoyable for your body type.
If you need more inspiration, check out some of these women doing parkour and calisthenics.
4. I’m too busy to learn parkour
“I’m too busy” is slang for “this is not my priority”. Which is perfectly cool. If you think parkour is not your priority, and you have other things to focus on, that is fine. Go and do your own stuff.
But if you have been worried about your health, or you have been eyeing parkour for a long time, then “I’m too busy” is just an excuse.
Remember the last time you took a vacation – were you ever too busy to fly to Korea for a break?
Remember the last time you finished the entire Assassin’s Creed game – were you ever too busy to play it?
You weren’t. You simply made it a priority – and found some way to do it.
Same goes for parkour.
If you want to try it, or you want to start taking care of your health, you simply have to find time in your schedule. Put it in your calendar. Sign up for classes so you have no choice but to turn up. Say “no” to other commitments that you feel obliged to go but actually hate it.
You’ll be surprised at the time that’s freed up.
Plus, the best part about parkour is that it can be done absolutely anywhere as long as there’s well, land and gravity. Be it waiting at the traffic light, in the lift or standing in the MRT, these are all opportunities to practice (see how a guy does various parkour movements with just a bench).
“I’m too busy” is not a good enough excuse.
5. People who do parkour are trespassers
I know, I know.
There are video evidence of traceurs encroaching into private property and practicing.
Whilst I don’t deny that there are traceurs who do this, remember that they are not the norm, and scaling buildings and jumping off rooftops are NOT requirements of parkour. Therefore, there is no need for you to trespass into private property as an excuse to “practice”.
In fact, most practice sessions are held at outdoor public spaces in Singapore. At MOVE Academy Singapore, we train at 4 different locations (Bishan, Clarke Quay, Holland Village and Clementi) – all easily accessible and safe places.
(Plus, as parkour becomes more established, parkour gyms have popped up, which makes it even safer to practice.)
At MOVE Academy Singapore, we respect public spaces and people. If there are passers-by, they get to pass first. We also advocate soft and quiet movements, so we don’t disturb the public.
So, you don’t have to worry about “breaking the law” when you start picking up parkour.
(Even PM Lee approves.)
Now You Know
Hopefully your misconceptions about parkour have been cleared up by now.
Parkour is about YOU – and you are free to push as hard as you want, or practice as safely as you want. There is no such thing as a requirement to pull off dangerous stunts or throw flashy tricks.
It is all about moving from Point A to B in a safe and efficient manner. And more than that, at its core is a philosophy of self-improvement that validates individual progress above everything, and acknowledges that something that feels ridiculously easy to one person might be incredibly hard to another.
If you’ve always been interested in parkour, but felt put off by some of the myths, I encourage you to head down to MOVE Academy Singapore and sign up for a trial. Try it and conclude for yourself whether you like it.