Parkour and Freerunning

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Parkour and Freerunning is a Spring seminar series at Student Designed Course at Olin College in Boston, MA. The goal of the course is for students to explore the French philosophical movement parkour and the related art of freerunning, expanding their physical and mental capabilities.

Course Background, Description, and Expectations[edit]

"Parkour is the art of moving through your environment using only your body and the surroundings to propel yourself. It can include running, jumping, climbing, even crawling, if that is the most suitable movement for the situation. Parkour could be grasped by imagining a race through an obstacle course, the goal is to overcome obstacles quickly and efficiently, without using extraneous movement. Apply this line of thought to an urban environment, or even a run through the woods, and you're on the right path. Because individual movements could vary so greatly by the situation, it is better to consider Parkour as defined by the intention instead of the movements themselves. If the intention is to get somewhere using the most effective movements with the least loss of momentum, then it could probably be considered Parkour." - Americanparkour.com

In addition to being a form of bodily expression akin to martial arts, parkour is also a philosophical movement. One major tenet is rejection of all forms of environmental determinism, arguing that obstacles around us cannot define or limit our actions. Rather, they present new opportunities to move the human body at will.

Beyond this, parkour is a rebellion against the constraints of sedentary modern lifestyle.

In a lot of ways, parkour is a means 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. It teaches us to touch the world and interact with it, instead of being sheltered by it.

Competencies[edit]

This course will engage the following Olin competencies:

  • Design - Parkour entails finding an often complex route between point A and point B. The design of a set of physical actions to reach a specific location parallels the designing of an engineering product
  • Opportunity Assessment - The most basic skill of parkour is discerning whether an opportunity to use parkour skills exists: whether a task may be too simple to be worth the time, or too dangerous to merit the risk
  • Context - We will explore this philosophical movement through written, oral, and kinesthetic communication.

References[edit]

  1. "Two Theories on Parkour Philosophy". Parkour North America. 7 September 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 16 April 2008.