WHAT IS PARKOUR?

On the surface, Parkour is a physical discipline and movement practice that involves navigating through an environment in the most efficient way possible using only the human body.

It includes crawling, balancing, running, jumping (and landing properly), rolling, vaulting, climbing and various other movements to overcome obstacles. The goal is to get from one point to another as swiftly and smoothly as possible, often in an urban setting.

The concept of parkour can be traced back to military obstacle course training, known as "parcours du combattant," developed by French naval officer Georges Hébert in the early 20th century. Hébert's philosophy, "être fort pour être utile" ("be strong to be useful"), emphasized natural movement and physical fitness.

Based off this concept, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a group of young men from the suburbs of Paris (particularly Lisses and Evry) began to develop their own style of movement. This group, known as the Yamakasi, included notable figures such as David Belle, Sébastien Foucan, Chau Belle, Williams Belle, Yann Hnautra, Laurent Piemontesi, Guylain "Zico" N'Guba Boyeke, Charles Perrière and Malik Diouf.

The name "Yamakasi" is derived from the Lingala language, meaning "strong body, strong mind, strong spirit." The group emphasized self-discipline, respect and physical conditioning. The Yamakasi's practices evolved into what they called "Art Du Déplacement" (ADD), meaning "the art of movement." This discipline focused on efficient and fluid movement, with a strong emphasis on mental and physical training.

Over time, the original group members pursued different paths. David Belle started to call his style Parkour, while Sébastien Foucan started calling his style Freerunning which included more acrobatic and expressive elements. The remaining others still say they train ADD and keep the originally intended philosophical tenants, whereas sometimes the word "Parkour" has someone think they're just going to learn dangerous and extreme movements without all the strength and conditioning that comes first.

The global spread of Parkour, Freerunning and Art Du Déplacement has been significantly influenced by their inclusion in movies, video games and stunt work. These mediums have played a crucial role in popularizing these disciplines and inspiring new generations of practitioners worldwide.

Although you can find elements of Parkour in just about every action movie these days, some notable films are "Yamakasi" (2001), "District 13" (2004), "Casino Royal" (2006), Prince Of Persia (2010), and documentaries such as "Jump London" (2003) and "Jump Britain" (2005).

Some notable video games are the "Assassin's Creed" series (2007), "Mirror's Edge (2008) and "Dying Light" (2015), and Parkour movements continue to show up in most other modern games.

Aside from Parkour and Freerunning having become staples in action sequences for movies, TV shows, commercials, music videos, YouTube, social media and video games, there is a budding global community of practitioners making it the fastest growing sport/discipline in recent time.

Outside of Hollywood and screen time, Parkour is practiced both as a personal discipline and within organized settings, encompassing daily training, competitions, and community gatherings.

Practitioners, known as traceurs (male) and traceuses (female), train regularly in urban and natural environments, focusing on techniques such as vaults, jumps, rolls, and climbs to move efficiently and fluidly. Physical conditioning and mental focus are crucial, as parkour emphasizes overcoming both physical and mental barriers, fostering creativity and personal expression.

Informal gatherings, known as jams, allow practitioners to share techniques and build community, while competitions like Red Bull Art of Motion showcase advanced skills and creativity, with athletes judged on speed, style, and difficulty of movements.

In addition to personal practice, parkour has found its way into structured environments and competitive sports. For example, World Chase Tag, a sport combining elements of parkour and tag, features teams of athletes competing in timed games within obstacle-filled arenas, highlighting the discipline’s dynamic nature without the inclusion of flips.

Parkour gyms and academies provide safe, controlled spaces equipped with various obstacles for scalable training and refining skills. These facilities offer classes, workshops, and certification programs, ensuring safe and effective teaching.

The global parkour community is supported by local groups and online platforms, fostering a philosophy of self-improvement, resilience and adaptability that practitioners apply both in their training and everyday lives.

Learn more about our parkour offerings

Summer Camp

Jump into a world of excitement at our Parkour Summer Camp! Designed for kids aged 6-17, this camp provides a unique experience for every skill level. Learn more.

Open Class

Move with us regularly at our Open Parkour Classes! Suitable for kids and adults with no prior experience, these classes also offer progressions for more experienced students. Learn more.

Membership Class

Elevate your child's after-school routine with our Parkour Master Classes at Santa Barbara Trapeze Co. Designed for children aged 5-17 separated by age and skill level, these classes offer an immersive experience in parkour, trampoline skills, and tumbling.

Birthday Parties

Watch your birthday dreams leap into action! Our Parkour Birthday Parties offer an exhilarating mix of parkour, trampoline, tumbling, and obstacle courses, perfect for creating an unforgettable birthday experience

Sign Up Now!

Learn more about the classes below