What is Parkour?


Comprehensive Version:

Parkour (abbreviated as PK) is a holistic training discipline that focuses on the efficiency of physical movement to speedily negotiate between and overcome environmental obstacles. Parkour demands the full utilization of the body and mind as each movement is executed with an utmost concern for safety. Parkour makes use of, but not limited to, the movements : running, climbing, jumping, landing, rolling, swinging, crawling, vaulting and tumbling.

Parkour developed out of military obstacle course training, with roots in altruistic origins having the line “Être fort pour être utile" ("Being strong to be useful") well-known by most practitioners. To some, it’s treated as a means of self-development, enabling one to develop skills that can be used in aiding oneself or others in real-life situations, or to be able to express oneself creatively – sometimes even playfully – by reinterpreting and even subverting familiar urban spaces. In line with creative expression, to be aesthetically “fluid” and “smooth” is a common objective. An often shared experience is coined as ‘Parkour Visions’, as Parkour makes it possible for one to ‘see’ the environment in a different way, imagining the potentialities for movement around it.

Parkour, lastly, at its core is the value of camaraderie – uniting people from different walks of life through a shared learning experience.


Compact Version:

PARKOUR (PK) : A discipline that focuses on efficiency of movement to negotiate between and overcome obstacles. It may be used to aid oneself or others in times of urgent situations, or as a means of creative expression around spaces. Parkour involves ‘seeing’ one’s environment in a new way, and imagining the potentialities for movement around it.

Sources : PKPH, Wikipedia


What is PKPH : Parkour Philippines?

PKPH (Parkour Philippines) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote and positively represent Parkour in the Philippines, serving as a mechanism to cultivate Parkour’s underlying value-filled principles in the local community, hence contributing to the global Parkour movement.

PKPH : Running, jumping, landing, rolling, climbing, crawling, swinging, vaulting, tumbling and more since 2004.

The Beginnings of PKPH

From the thoughts of PKPH co-founder, Derek Sta Ana:

Discovery. This is where it all began. In 2004, Discovery channel released a documentary entitled, Jump London. It featured the then unfamiliar, Sebastian Foucan, as well as other figures from the cult classic PK movie, Yamakasi. At a time when YouTube and Facebook didn't even exist; when connecting to the internet meant hearing that all to familiar string of modem bells and rings in all its 56kbps speeds, this was something different, to say the least. The freedom, the expression, the individuality, and uniqueness, all captured in the form of movement. 

As an enthusiast of the alternative, with a dash of adrenaline, this was just too good not to share, especially to my friends in movement Ira Villar and Tony Drilon. The next day, pumped up with what we saw, Ira and I began our first step into exploring movement. We roamed around campus looking for spots to practice jumps, loop through holes, vault over benches and parking bars, and generally traverse the environment different from what we've been lead to think. From that first jam session, little did we know how much of an eye-opener and revelation Parkour would become in our lives. From then on, we started seeing a different world around us. We saw purpose in movement, in expression, and independence.

Over the next couple of months, our jams and exploration became more frequent. Favorite spots where soon established, new techniques learned, new terminologies for moves we didn't know others in other parts of the world were also experimenting on. Friends started becoming curious. Eventually, they were just as amazed by the things we were able to do with our bodies and the environment. We didn't know it yet, since we enjoyed it so much, but we were slowly evangelizing the movement of parker through just movement. In any place actually: parks, playgrounds, parking lots, windows, ledges, posts, wherever we went, there was something calling us that challenged how we would normally move around it. We called this PK Vision, and it was surreal and unrelenting, appearing out of nowhere, like wearing 3d glasses on and seeing the world in a totally different way.

Having fallen into this new found passion for movement, we were hard of locating anything relevant to learn more about it locally, even in the internet. We where constantly looking out for the Philippine scene, with the hopes of finding other individuals who shared the same passion we did locally. On the message boards, Videos then internationally were mostly about discovery. Everyone was very supportive and the only hint of competition back then was how a tracer would learn of moving across some environment in a new way. Ideals, philosophies and concepts were all fresh. It was a beautiful inspiring thing, which grew to what it is now, the good along with the bad. 

The spirits of youth, curiosity, willingness to share, passion for movement and exploration, and Filipino nationalism all mashed up into this 'juvenile' logo.  

The spirits of youth, curiosity, willingness to share, passion for movement and exploration, and Filipino nationalism all mashed up into this 'juvenile' logo.  

Sooner or later, Ira decided that we should also have our own group presence online to post photos, videos, inspirational material and resources about Parkour, and generally, what we've been up to. Coming up with a name, we wanted to make it uniquely Filipino, for the simple reason that we didn't think there was any other group out there. From the word "Parkour", I thought of a Filipino symbol and word that would fit it. Kubo, an indigenous nipa hut traditionally made of natural bamboo and anahaw all intertwined and woven together, what could be more Filipino than that. Combining the two, Parkoubo was born.

Unexpectedly, people began contacting us to train and jam. We met new friends along the way on their own paths to discovering movement. Juni was studying architecture, Macky and Carlo nursing, Macky's cousin, Moi, Bruno and Lernie. There were others who joined only for a couple of times, boys and girls, but mostly all teenagers around our age or younger. Training was tiring, not to mention risky and dirty. Rain or shine, we trained. Even coining names for certain actives — to scout for locations, to jam at a spot, to spot a fellow traceur. We knew the spots in our campus and in UP like the back of our callused rough hands. On occasion, we visited Club Gymnastica, then located beside the now gone Rizal park; it even had a climbing wall before.   Always there was a constant struggle with authority, or more like, local security. We even coined a name for them. Seeing nothing wrong with what we were doing, we tried pulling our strings, at least in Ateneo to further make Parkour acceptable.

The media soon got a hold of what we were trying to do. Interviews from online news sites, our local university paper, and local networks soon overwhelmed us. You see, we never really asked for any of this. We just really love practicing Parkour-- The fun, the pain, the physical gains and the overcoming obstacles spirit. But seeing as it is a new thing, it was more an uneasy responsibility we had to accept from time to time. Eventually, we realized that there was a responsibility to promote proper parkour in the Philippines. Now on our last year in College, we decided to create a yahoogroups and change our name to the more basic Parkour Philippines, like what other countries did seeing as they were the first. Abbreviated as PKPH. It took us a little less than a year to adjust to this new responsibility.

I recently read a quote online which captures one of the main reasons we began this journey for Parkour Philippines/PKPH. And I quote, "If you're ever good at something and someone seeks you for knowledge, never deny them the knowledge, teach them and watch them grow instead. You'll find it rewarding to see them progress further into the things you love." With a clear goal and an honest passion for the art of movement, we grew not only our physical skills and mental prowess, but also the opportunities that are continually being presented to us. From then on, PKPH was able to reach out to thousands of PK practitioners from all over the country.

The PKPH Vision

Filipinos free from obstacles with Parkour and its principles.

Obstacles can take shape in different forms – in an actual physical barrier, via emotional, mental, or even spiritual. PKPH believes that the foundational principles Parkour was built on and to this day still being developed, by the global as well as local community, can help overcome those obstacles. Those valuable lessons, we envision to share to each and every Filipino.

Our Mission 

In priority of importance but all important:

  • To develop practitioners who can stand up as leaders in the community, to be able to also train, motivate and inspire others.
  • To spread Parkour together with its underlying values, and be able to communicate correct information and positive understandings about it. Therefore, making Parkour a respectable art and discipline locally, making the activity as accessible as possible to those who want to enjoy it;
  • To be able to create and maintain a sustainable Parkour profession locally so that talented and passionate traceurs will have a choice to pursue the art as a lifelong vocation.
  • For the Philippine community to be recognized as part of the global parkour community, as a result opening up opportunities for project collaborations as well as sharing of learnings.


The Values PKPH Lives By

Here are several values that PKPH seriously upholds and takes pride on. Some are taken from the consensus of the global PK community, while some realized and written by PKPH members:


Persistence for Personal Excellence

Parkour is about being the best in your own right – to succeed over your own battles before besting any other competition. It’s about strength as an individual to determine one’s own current limit, and to work hard – inch by inch – to break away from it. Breaking that limit is achieved by one’s own determination, as well as the community’s sincere willingness to help one another. Parkour is about going beyond your level – being better today than you were yesterday. “In an interview with The New Yorker, David Belle acknowledges the influence of Lee's thinking: "There's a quote by Bruce Lee that's my motto: 'There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. A man must constantly exceed his level.' If you're not better than you were the day before, then what are you doing—what's the point?”


Being Strong to be Useful

“Être fort pour être utile" ("Being strong to be useful"). Parkour is rooted in altruistic origins through Georges Hébert – a pioneering French physical educator, theorist and instructor. According to Wikipedia, “While an officer in the French Navy prior to the First World War, Hébert was stationed in the town of St. Pierre, Martinique. In 1902 the town fell victim to a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Hébert coordinated the escape and rescue of some seven hundred people from this disaster. This experience had a profound effect on him, and reinforced his belief that athletic skill must be combined with courage and altruism. He eventually developed this ethos into his personal motto, "Être fort pour être utile" ("Being strong to be useful")… Hébert believed, by concentrating on competition and performance, competitive sport diverted physical education both from its physiological ends and its ability to foster sound moral values.” Parkour, thus has been thought to be useful in emergency situations whether to reach someone and help them, or to escape from danger.


Respect for the Human Body

Andy (Animus of Parkour North America) suggests a very insightful concept about Parkour, that the art, as he says, is a form of “Human Reclamation – of reclaiming what it means to be a human being. It teaches us to move using the natural methods that we should have learned from infancy.” In as much as Parkour more noticeably engages “Human Reclamation” through the physical development of natural movement, it is also – and probably more importantly – about reclaiming the body’s physical well-being as a whole. As such, any means that hinder such a ‘reclamation’ is contradictory to the spirit of Parkour. Thus, a traceur must not only be about developing movement, but also about maintaining a healthful lifestyle through proper nutrition, rejection of vices, ample rest and value for current physical limitations.


Leave No Trace

Traceurs normally engage in training in both rural and urban environments, mostly at gyms, parks, playgrounds, offices, and abandoned structures. As such, traceurs are believers in another form of ‘reclamation’, and that is ‘Environmental Reclamation’. Not to mean in a sense that we humans own the environment, but that we are part of it. That spaces should be made not to limit human development, but to help foster it further. Of course, the idea “fostering human development” can be taken out of context and used for malicious activities, hence it must be anchored on the value of ‘Leaving No Trace’. While there are “spots” wherein nobody will show concern to limit a traceur’s activity, there are places that do. Thus, as a means to build and uphold the entire community’s good reputation, every traceur must respect both people and places, to leave politely when asked, to clean up the mess that was left behind – even if not personally responsible for – to be sensitive to trespassing issues, as well as avoid at all cost damage to property.


To be Proud and Responsible Filipinos

PKPH was built not only to represent Parkour in the Philippines but also the Filipinos to the global Parkour movement. Hence, the importance of always keeping in mind the question, “Am I representing the Philippines in a positive light?” Whether through a discussion, a group activity, or individual movement expression, we must always be aware of what we are extrinsically communicating. Whether we are expressing the inherent goodness of what it is to be Filipino or not.