To know what is the primary goal of parkour we need to know what is parkour? Parkour is a non-competitive sport that involves efficient movement around obstacles. Participants called traceurs (men) and traceuses (women) move through an environment, such as city streets. By vaulting, rolling, running, climbing, and jumping on, over or around obstacles.
One of the primary goal of parkour remains self-improvement and freedom from obstacles — either physical or mental. Traceurs and traceuses train improving both their physical and mental health. Learning to act independently in their environment without the constraints of society’s usual thinking.
The basic moves of parkour got their start long ago in the Eastern martial arts, like ninjutsu. In the 1920’s, Georges Hébert began to teach these moves as part of French military training. Frenchman David Belle expanded on this work in the late 1980’s when he founded the Yamakasi group, which was the first group dedicated to parkour.
The name “parkour” comes from “le parcours,” the term David Belle’s father, Raymond Belle, used to describe his French military training. The classic obstacle course training method used by the French was known as “parcours du combattant.”
Parkour developed from a training method into a sport focused on gracefully overcoming obstacles within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment.
Although parkour moves may look like dangerous tricks, the discipline actually discourages reckless behavior and dangerous stunts. Instead, it focuses on safety and personal responsibility. The parkour moves that look so easy when performed by professionals are actually difficult moves that only come about successfully after lengthy training and practice.
Although its development largely occurred in France, parkour is now an international discipline with traceurs and traceuses practicing all over the world. In the English-speaking world, parkour was given another name: free-running.
Today, though, parkour and free-running are often considered two different disciplines. Parkour is more rigid in its focus on never moving backward and being practical and efficient. Free-running, however, allows moves in any direction purely for artistic purposes.
Content for this question contributed by Darrow Sprague, resident of Hayward, Alameda County, California, USA