Etre fort pour être utile

translation: Be strong to be useful.

Georges Hébert was a member of the French navy at the start of the twentieth century. He was inspired by the fitness and function of the different indigenous people he encountered while travelling the world. This inspiration led him to develop the concept of méthode naturelle. This involved training using the natural environment and a variety of random modes of exercise including, running, swimming, jumping, climbing, quadrupedal movement, moving objects and fighting. To further develop the members of the French military, obstacle courses were developed. Training was termed parcours du combatants.

The concepts of parcours du combatants and méthode naturelle have evolved to what is now termed Parkour. There is much debate over what is truly parkour or any of its related spinoffs such as freerunning or tricking. For me I like to keep things simple and useful. The following definition works well for me:

Parkour is navigating any environment quickly, confidently, and efficiently with only the capabilities of your body

This is a broad definition, but it needs to be. This allows the concept to apply to any situation and is not just limited to the physical. The environment may be an obstacle course, a wall, a tree, bushland, a carpark, an athletics track or a road race. To be a able to move quickly through all these and any other environment you need to have developed a wide range of physical attributes including strength, power, flexibility, endurance and tolerance to various workloads. Confidence it not simply a matter of developing the mind. Yes you need to be mentally strong in some situations, but confidence should not be misplaced. Train the body and the mind will follow. Confidence comes from knowing you can do it, not guessing that you can. Efficiency suggests that the energy cost or fatigue aspects need to be minimised. This again comes from training the physical attributes already mentioned, but also from developing sound technique that is adaptable.

These are concepts that appeal to me and is the reason why I am now incorporating Parkour into my training mix. It takes me beyond simply running in straight lines, or lifting weights inside a gym. Further it allows for training to take place in almost any environment that I am in. Maybe that will result in fewer training sessions missed.


  1. >Parkour is navigating any environment quickly, confidently, and efficiently with only the capabilities of your body

    sounds like orienteering!

  2. I like the concept :) ... the simple mindset of just getting from A to B as quickly, confidently and efficiently as possible.

  3. I have seen some Parkour demos, amazing stuff, looks like the sort of thing you need to learn when you are young and have no fear of pain.

    Have you seen the opening scene of the last James Bond movie, they guy he was chasing is supposed to be one of THE parkour experts, he certainly was very impressive.

  4. Good grasp of the concept, Jason! The first central premise of parkour/l'art du deplacement was just to be a functional and capable human being, strong in every way, and able to use those strengths to help others. If you are looking for any contact with the community, you can find us here -

    Tread softly.


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