金今 选 万熙卿 译
Parkour is a physical activity that is difficult to categorize. It is often mis-categorized as a sport or an extreme sport; however, parkour has no set of rules, team work, formal hierarchy, or competitiveness. Most experienced traceurs think of parkour as a discipline closer to martial arts. According to David Belle, “the physical aspect of parkour is getting over all the obstacles in your path as you would in an emergency. You want to move in such a way, with any movement, as to help you gain the most ground on someone or something, whether escaping from it or chasing toward it.” Thus, when faced with a hostile confrontation with a person, one will be able to speak, fight, or flee. As martial arts are a form of training for the fight, parkour is a form of training for the flight. Because of its unique nature, it is often said that parkour is in its own category.
A characteristic of parkour is efficiency. Practitioners move not only as rapidly as they can, but also in the most direct and efficient way possible; a characteristic that distinguishes it from the similar practice of freerunning, which places more emphasis on freedom of movement, such as acrobatics. Efficiency also involves avoiding injuries, short and long-term, part of why parkour’s unofficial motto is to be and to last. Those who are skilled at this activity normally have an extremely keen spatial awareness.
Par for the Kourse
Le parkour is a recently coined French term (related to the verb parcourir, “to run over or through”), sometimes referred to by the initials PK. The activity (and its name) were created by David Belle, Sebastien Foucan, and a group of their friends when they were teenagers living in the Paris suburb of Lisses in the late 1980s. Belle’s father had been a soldier in Vietnam, and his training included navigating obstacle courses. Belle picked up many of the moves—and the philosophy behind them—from his father and, along with his friends, developed them into an art form.
Parkour combines elements of running, gymnastics, dance, and martial arts into a breathtaking—and sometimes dangerous—way of moving from place to place (typically in an urban setting). The general idea is to move quickly and gracefully, treating whatever objects you come across as elements in an obstacle course. Buildings, walls, handrails, rocks, and anything else that people normally walk around become mere props or gymnastic apparatuses that you “flow” over, across, or through. The only real rule is that you should not move backwards, but given any number of ways to get from point A to point B, the objective is to do so with as much efficiency and style as possible.
Unlike skateboarding (which parkour resembles in some ways), the only equipment required for parkour is a good pair of shoes. Participants, who call themselves traceurs, wear no protective gear but typically invest a great deal of time in training and preparation in order to execute the necessary moves safely. The first thing any participant learns is how to cushion the impact of a jump (or fall) by rolling. Although parkour is ultimately about clever improvisation rather than choreographed moves, there are a couple dozen or so standard maneuvers that almost all traceurs learn—including several techniques for getting over tall walls.
Some traceurs participate merely for the fun or the challenge, but others treat parkour as a more serious art, similar to some martial arts. As a philosophy, the movements metaphorically represent becoming one with your environment, learning how to overcome obstacles without effort, and finding creative paths—all things with practical value outside the sport.
Even though parkour has reached a significant level of international popularity only in the past three years or so, there is already an offshoot sport that has led to a great deal of bitterness and division among parkour proponents. Co-founder Sebastien Foucan, in a 2003 BBC documentary called “Jump London,” referred to the sport as “free-running”—apparently as a simple attempt at an English translation—and that term caught on in the media. However, parkour purists feel that the direction in which Foucan has taken the activity is entirely different (in both execution and philosophy) from what he and Belle had originally developed—and that what is now known as free-running should not be confused with “true” parkour (which Belle still promotes).
The biggest difference has to do with theatrics. Free-running involves a lot of trick moves, particularly mid-air flips and spins. Because these moves are merely showy, not economical—they don’t actually help the participant to get from place to place—they’re considered contrary to the nature of parkour. A free-runner may also move backwards in order to make a move as flashy as possible.
But it’s not simply a matter of differing styles. Clothing manufacturers are capitalizing on the growing interest in parkour and free-running by introducing special shoes, designer clothing, and other gear; free-running competitions are also beginning to appear. This commercialization is at odds with the idea of parkour as being a discipline of great simplicity, elegance, and subtlety. Traceurs fear that their art form is being cheapened and degraded.
Whatever else can be said about parkour (or free-running), it certainly requires athletic ability. Participants must be in shape—and more than a little daring. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of participants are male, and most are in their teens or twenties. Although I have every respect for the beauty and grace of parkour, I think I’ll be sticking with t’ai chi myself. All things being equal, I prefer not to be bouncing off the walls.
in its own category 自成一派，独立构成一个类别
offshoot sport 分支运动
at odds with 与……相悖