Sports

Parkour: A Running, Jumping, Leaping, Vaulting Sport

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Parkour; image by Alexandre Ferreira, http://www.flickr.com/photos/amf/At The Monkey Vault in Toronto, a 12-year-old girl leaps over a pile of foam blocks, runs up a ramp, slips horizontally through a set of bars, and lands safely on the floor.

It may sound smooth and easy, but she fell the last three times she tried, so doing it without a mishap is a good accomplishment. For the last three hours, she has been practicing the basics of a sport called parkour.

Parkour is a type of non-competitive sport that involves running, jumping, and balancing to complete obstacle courses that can be made of anything from pits, fences and bricks, to walls, ramps, and gates.

The basics of parkour, which she and seven other girls were practicing that morning, are simple. They walked forward and backward, trying not to bump into each other—and giggling when they did. They somersaulted over and over, eventually getting too dizzy to keep rolling, and then they practiced walking on all fours—on their hands and feet at the same time, like an orangutan.

After that, they ran up ramps and jumped over foam blocks. They practiced leaping up onto a small wooden box and swinging around poles.

The exercises may sound easy and fun, and they are, but they’re also necessary because in any sport, the basics always come first. Just like any sport, parkour must be practiced so no one gets hurt. The Monkey Vault is a gym specifically designed to help people learn about the techniques and skills needed in parkour.

Parkour is usually done outdoors. The Monkey Vault is a safe indoor place to practice a sport that can involve a lot of unsafe things. The gym has special equipment to practice running, jumping, leaping, and climbing. Almost all of the equipment is padded, the floor is soft and springy, and there is always someone in the gym to help.

Parkour became popular in France. Its French name is “parcours” from “parcourir” which means to “run across.” It’s also known as free-running, because that is very literally what parkour involves—running over, around and through obstacles to get quickly from one place to another.

It is also sometimes called vaulting, obstacle-course training or street acrobatics.

But any way you say it, parkour is a fun and healthy way to spend some free time.

Note: Parkour should not be attempted without first learning the basics with a trainer in a safe environment.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Using the knowledge that you gained from the article, imagine and design a parkour course that could take place either in your school’s playground or at a local park.
Draw the obstacle course and write a detailed explanation of how to complete the course.

Reading Prompt
When we read, we use many different strategies to help us understand a text.  For example, we use our background knowledge, we ask questions and we think about the main idea in a text.

One strategy that we often use without even realized it is visualization.  Visualization is when we picture what we are reading in our imagination.
As you read the text, visualize how the kids run, jump and leap through obstacle courses.
Describe your visualization to a partner and explain how it helped you to understand the sport.

Primary and Junior
Identify several reading comprehension strategies and use them before, during and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Grammar Feature: Synonym
Synonyms are different words that have similar meanings.  There are several synonyms for parkour, such as vaulting, obstacle-course training and street acrobatics.
Think of at least two synonyms for the following words:
Excited
Nice
Mean
Scary
Wild