EVER thought about jumping across buildings, climbing 6ft walls and doing backflips down the street in the name of sport? Well, now you can.
Parkour, also known as freerunning, has grown in popularity in the UK over the last 10 years, and is slowly gaining recognition as a sport. While the sport has enjoyed success in London since it began there in 2003, it is still relatively unheard of in Wales.
Parkour is the art of using your body to get from A to B as efficiently, quickly and safely as possible with a little help from your surroundings. It can include obstacle courses, running, climbing, mantling and vaulting,
Originally termed Art du Deplacment and now referred to as Parkour or Freerunning, the sport was founded in France in the 1980s by a group of nine young men. The sport came to the UK through a Channel 4 documentary, Jump London, in 2003.
Fluidity Freerun, a Cardiff based Parkour group, has now been running since 2005, when a group of friends began doing performances across Cardiff.
The exposure of the sport is growing across the Welsh capital, with a base in Splott, which houses the Fluidity Freerun team and is the home of PLAY (Parkour Learning Adaptability), a Welsh organisation set up to create an opportunity for people to experience Parkour.
PLAY holds classes across Wales from Cardiff Bay, to Bridgend and throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf. Through the school holidays, the organisation also hosts outdoor classes to encourage the next generation to take up the sport.
Craig Lee Robinson, 28, is a Fluidity Freerun member and coach at PLAY. Mr Robinson said: “We try to gel all areas across South Wales together, as we’re trying to get it all off the ground and spread it as a recognised sport throughout the area.
“When I started Parkour, it was literally me and a couple of mates, and we used to go out and try things because we had nothing we could directly learn from.
“It’s really easy to learn now, with YouTube videos and classes like ours. Something that took me months to understand, our students can understand in one session. So, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in the future.
“Our sessions are about giving people the right education about doing Parkour. I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I’ve stayed relatively healthy through it just because of the right practice. It’s important to train them how to do it without hurting themselves.
“I think Parkour is for everyone. A lot of people can learn from it, and it can translate into a lot of different sports. I know a lot of rugby players now are doing stuff like box jumps, which is basically a lot of what we do in Parkour.”
The organisation has approached South Wales Police in hopes of teaching officers ways of getting over obstacles safely when pursing suspects on foot.
Craig said: “I’m guessing a lot of people must have tried to chase down people and have hurt themselves.
“I’m not expecting them to climb and do movie style jumps. We’re talking low level stuff like getting over 4ft walls and falling safely.
“Our relationship with the police is much better now. Back when I started, I would be just jumping on a rail and straight away, I would be approached by the police who would question me and take my details down because they didn’t understand what I was doing.
“I reckon we’ll get a lot more support if we do this project, in the way of publicity and the public knowing that what we’re doing is a recognised sport.”
For more information visit fluidityfreerun.co.uk tyfreerun.co.uk.