Five years ago if someone had mentioned the words ‘parkour’ or ‘freerunning’ , chances are you would have stared back blankly, wondering what on earth it was they were going on about. Today it’s a very different story and since the sport of free running crossed the channel from its birthplace in France there has been an explosion of media interest in the UK and beyond.
Parkour is the art of controlled movement whereby practitioners utilise obstacles in their surrounding environment to further their aim of getting from one place to another. Walls and railings usually perceived as a means of restricting movement take on new meaning as a tool of freedom and liberation. The sport originated in the Parisian suburb of Lisses by a small group of friends who over a period of many years developed what essentially started out as a childhood game into the purposeful activity of escape and reach. Unlike many sports which are of a competitive nature, in parkour the competition is only with oneself; a concept which is shared by many martial arts.
As Parkour developed further it evolved into two separate paths. Some of the founding members such as David Belle (who is frequently credited as the inventor of parkour) were keen for Parkour to remain a purely functional discipline utilising only the most efficient movements and little more. Other members of the original Lisses group were keen to develop Parkour further and incorporate a wider range of movements such as the back flips and acrobatic manoeuvres seen in martial arts like contemporary Wushu. This is what then became known across the world as freerunning which has since been featured in many high profile films, music videos and television programmes.
Fast forward to the present day and freerunning has become one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, one of the most requested sports in schools and even has a large following here in rural Devon. In the last couple of years a handful of formal parkour clubs have established themselves around the country, most notably Parkour Generations in London and Glasgow Parkour in Scotland but both of these venues were only teaching parkour rather than freerunning and crucially there was nothing available like this in the south west.
Concerned by the increasing number of new parkour practitioners and freerunners who were copying what they saw on TV without any guidance and then picking up unnecessary injuries; in the summer of 2010 Devonian born Reading University Graduate Dominic Rott founded Streetmotion, the first ever parkour/ freerunning coaching organisation in Devon & Cornwall.
Whilst studying at University in 2004, Dom became one of the founding members of the largest parkour group in Berkshire and then in 2007 went on to develop the website Devon Parkour which remains to this day the most distinguished web community and news site for parkour, freerunning and tricking enthusiasts in the south west. Dom first started training back in 2003 putting him in a relatively small group of ‘first generation UK freerunners’ making him one of the most experienced practitioners in the country.
Streetmotion started out providing coaching services for organisations, events and local authorities. They have been working closely with Plymouth & Teignbridge council and last year worked with the BBC to deliver freerunning workshops to young people on Paignton Seafront and in Penzance as part of the BBC Blast! Tour.
As well as working with a number of schools and youth clubs, Streetmotion also a run a regular indoor freerunning academy on weekday evenings across south Devon. “Our flagship indoor academy takes place on Wednesday evenings at St Luke’s Science & Sports College in Exeter. Full details can be found at http://www.streetmotion.co.uk/classes. Our academy classes take place in a safe indoor environment and are open all year round. Our coaches are some of the most competent freerunners in the country, most having a minimum of 7 years experience. All our coaches are enhanced CRB checked and we hold full public liability insurance. ” Streetmotion Founder & Director of Coaching Dom Rott recently completed a newly created Parkour UK Coaching Course and became the first person in Devon to complete the ‘1st4Sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Parkour/Freerunning’
Streetmotion are also considering starting an indoor freerunning academy in Torbay.” Anyone interested in learning to freerun in Torquay/Paignton/Brixham should complete a short survey to register their interest at http://www.streetmotion.co.uk/survey/.