Parkour is not a widespread sport that is being done in Thailand however, it came from humble beginnings where its concept was relatively unknown and unpracticed in the Kingdom at one point. In more recent times though, Parkour has been gaining its popularity over time to where it is a staple of smaller communities who leap across the urban jungles of Thailand.
History of parkour
Parkour, can be known as freerunning although those in the community would explicitly declare that they are different, was developed in France in the late 1980s. Raymond Belle who had gone through training rooted in the “parcours du combatant” which was a classic military obstacle course training method designed by General Georges Herbert.
Raymond Belle’s son, David, was inspired by his experiences and developed and popularised parkour in the late 1900s and early 200s through a variety of films, documentaries, and live demonstrations. With that, Parkour started gaining more international attention through a French film known as “District 13” and a James Bond film “Casino Royale” which exposed this Discipline to a wider audience.
Despite its relatively recent invention, parkour has spread throughout the world, with practitioners, or ‘traceurs’, forming local and global communities that often use urban public spaces to practice and train.
In 2017, parkour was officially recognized as a sport by the UK, while the International Gymnastics Federation has worked to include parkour as a new discipline in gymnastics. However, this move has been opposed by many parkour communities who argue that it goes against parkour’s foundational principles of freedom and self-expression.
Parkour’s spread to Thailand
Parkour has not been a big thing in Thailand until more recent times due to a variety of factors and individuals who sought to spread the discipline/sport to other parts of the world.
With the spread of film and its importance in modern culture, people are exposed to a variety of ideas and concepts that may entice some thoughts but at the same time will show something that people would love to try. In action movies, stuntwork is an integral part of the film where people need to fall, perform leaps and tricks, and put themselves in precarious situations. With that, parkour is an integral part of stuntwork alongside taking bumps and martial arts and people love to imitate what they see on screen at times, i.e. call back to the time when you wanted to perform professional Wrestling moves on each other as kids because of WWE.
In Thai films, one of the most popular examples that can be pointed out would be the famous action Thai actor Tony Jaa. As showcased in one of his most famous films ‘Ong Bak,’ Tony Jaa can be seen using his Muay Thai/Muay Boran skills to create great fight choreography. In the same film, Tony Jaa could be seen using parkour during his escape, chase, and some of the fight scenes. Notable examples include the first scene of the film and the scene where they must run through the streets of Bangkok to escape the thugs chasing after them.
Although not the main factor, a film like ‘Ong Bak’ and an actor like Tony Jaa showcase their skills through these films and considering their classic stature in Thai film culture, a lot of younger people would have been exposed to parkour.
Parkour takes only the human body in order to move efficiently through the environment and obstacles. With that, you can do it yourself riskily or you can join a community of traceurs to learn more and do parkour together. With that various teams have been created with the goal of showcasing themselves and one group that has been essential to the Thai parkour scene is Team Farang.
Team Farang consists of an international team of free runners who are often found in cities like Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Tokyo, and especially Bangkok. Their videos and efforts to showcase parkour more in Thailand have led to influences in its increase to where if you join parkour gyms and communities, you will see their merchandising being used.
Training a discipline, sport, and/or skill requires a place where people can train, practice, and hone their skills. In Thailand, there are not many places where one could practice their skills but in the few places that there are, they offer some of the most fun and intense physical sessions that you will experience. An example would be The Movement Playground owned by Julien Vigroux who aims to teach a newer generation of people the artistic movements of parkour.
Furthermore, Ninja Warrior obstacle courses and even the Spartan race are encouraging people to train themselves physically to partake in these difficult sports events. Although it is not the main factor, access to parkour gyms gives enough people access to the discipline where they can decide whether or not they would like to continue.
How do you get into parkour?
One of the most essential pieces of equipment for parkour is your body. There is a saying that parkour is essentially going from ‘A’ to ‘B’ in the most efficient way possible where humorously, walking can count as parkour. With that, it is suggested to start small and slow while making sure your technique is better because it is a dangerous thing to put yourself into. Learning how to run, jump, climb, and even perform a roll goes a long way before you can do more advanced stuff. With that, going into a parkour gym and taking classes is a good way to get started.
Furthermore, your physical fitness is essential so you should be ensuring that you train yourself physically and with enough conditioning that consists of mainly cardio and endurance while incorporating strength as well. This will ensure that not only can you perform the movements but avoid injuring yourself in the process which may keep you away from the sport.
The parkour scene in Thailand has been growing due to a variety of factors but what that means for you is that you will not be alone. When you are seeking guidance or a way to get started, you can rest assured that there are people who will be able to help. Start small and dream big, this journey will take multiple steps but always remember to rest when your body needs it and progress yourself incrementally.
If you are looking for more exhilarating activities to do in Thailand, our article about this is perfect for you!
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