Spotlight on parkour


ABOVE AND RIGHT: NZ Parkour’s Damien Puddle. Photo by Dave Campbell.

How did it come about?

Parkour has a somewhat complex history. Many of the movements and philosophical concepts are not new, but the combination of them – parkour – is what is considered new.

Parkour was birthed in France in the suburbs of Paris in the 1980s by a group of young men – including but not limited to David Belle, Sebastien Foucan, Yann Hnautra and Chau Belle-Dinh.

The roots of their training can be traced back to (among many other things) the training systems of George Hébert, a French physical educator and inventor of parcours du combattant – the military obstacle course.

Due to differences in personal philosophy their initial training (that had no real name) split into slightly different activities and became parkour, l’art du deplacement and freerunning.

The word parkour comes from the French word parcours, meaning ‘course’.

Parkour exploded onto the global scene when the documentary Jump London aired in 2003.

Where is it most popular?
Parkour is most popular in Europe, understandable being that it’s from France. In New Zealand it’s most popular in Auckland and Wellington but all of the communities from Whangarei to Invercargill are growing.

Who to watch in NZ?
Because parkour is non-competitive, you’re not watching to see who is the “best” but rather watching to see how people are progressing and what local communities are doing. There are exciting things happening in just about every community in New Zealand – go out and find them!

Where to have a go in Waikato?
The biggest parkour community in Waikato is in Hamilton where we train regularly at Waikato University, Hamilton Gardens, Lake Rotoroa (Hamilton Lake) and lots of places in town such as the museum, Wintec and along the river.  The all-ages classes we run are held at Waikato University and we also run a kids’ class in Cambridge, both of which follow the school term.

“One of the many positive changes wrought in me through parkour training is a deeper sense of appreciation for the world that we live in. By continuing to explore different places and overcoming challenges within myself in each one, it has increased the emotional attachment I have with space. I now have a greater awareness of the environment and a keen desire to protect and care for it so that others might have the opportunity to experience the things that I have.”
– Damien Puddle, CEO of NZ Parkour ​

What does it cost you?
Parkour doesn’t require any special equipment other than comfortable clothes (track pants are quite popular) and access to good footwear (mostly flat, flexible shoes with single piece soles are better than heavy, big heeled running shoes – you need to feel the ground to know what you’re doing), though barefoot training is important too.

If you step outside and try it right now or come along to the regular training sessions then it’s entirely free (that’s the same for anywhere in the country). If you’re interested in paid and therefore more focused instruction, NZ Parkour runs classes for $10 a session or cheaper if you pay for the whole term – even more perks for members.

What will it involve?
Exploring your movement capabilities and potential, learning to adapt your movements to the environment, problem solving using your body. That means any potential combination of walking, running, jumping, climbing, rolling, swinging, vaulting and movement on all fours, etc.

Who will you meet?
All sorts of people. Parkour attracts many sport and non-sport enthusiasts, young and old, male and female. The community loves meeting and welcoming new people and everyone is eager to help one-another learn. Besides me, you’ll probably meet Cliff Tarrant, NZ Parkour’s Hamilton rep and one of the lead coaches and Eddy Young, another coach and experienced practitioner.

What you will learn?
Functional movement skills, how to overcome your fears, how to see and appreciate the world in a totally different way, how amazing you really are and how to teach yourself.


parkour2Jumping for joy

People from all walks of life are discovering the many benefits of parkour. Two Hamiltonians share their story of involvement.

“Parkour has helped me become a lot stronger in mind, body and spirit. For me, it put a new perspective on life. Parkour opened my eyes to the beauty of the world and the wonders of the human body. Parkour has taught me that any obstacle, physical or mental can be overcome with training and focus. Parkour lets you “live in the moment” and has become my way of life.
– Cliff Tarrant, Hamilton Rep for NZ Parkour.

parkour3“Parkour is all about overcoming obstacles and challenges, whether they are physical or mental. I have found that parkour has helped me to become better at approaching and overcoming obstacles and challenges from all walks of life. When life throws me a challenge instead of getting flustered, stressed or “I can’t do this!” I approach it with optimism and rationalise a way to overcome it. Parkour is much more than an activity or means of physical exercise, it is a tool that can be used how you like, whenever you like, to accomplish anything.”
– Joel Impey, assistant instructor in Hamilton

Cliff works for Hamilton City Council doing parks and gardening work and Joel is doing his Sport and Exercise Science degree at Wintec.


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