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The roots of Parkour go back over 100 years. It begins with Hebertism. Hebertism was created about 100 years ago by George Hebert.
George Hébert (1875-1957) exerted a major influence on the development of physical education in France. A former naval officer, he travelled throughout the world before World War 1 and was struck by the physical development and skill of indigenous peoples in Africa and elsewhere;
“Their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skilful, enduring, resistant and yet they had no other tutor in Gymnastics but their lives in Nature.” – G. Hébert
In 1902, Hébert was stationed in the town of St. Pierre in Martinique when the town fell victim to a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Hébert heroically co-ordinated 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 motto, “Etre fort pour être utile” – “To be strong, to be useful.”
Returning to France, Hebert became a physical education tutor at the College of Rheims, where he began to define the principles of his own system of physical education and to create apparatus and exercises to teach his “Natural Method”. As well as the “natural” training regimens he observed in Africa, he was inspired by classical representations of the human body in Greco-Roman statuary and by the ideals of the ancient Greek gymnasia. Hebert’s system rejected the sclerosis of remedial gymnastics and of the popular Swedish Method of physical culture, which seemed to him unable to develop the human body harmoniously and especially unable to prepare his students with the “moral requirements” of life.
In the same way, Hebert 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.
David Belles' father learnt and practiced Hebertism and when he spent time with his son, David, passed on his knowledge to him. As David grew and learnt he adapted what he needed from Hebertism to create something unique to him, something that allowed him to pursue his own needs and goals.
Parkour was developed by David Belle in France in an effort to understand himself and his motivations and find his own way in life by:
Most importantly, Parkour is a tool to understand yourself. To discover within ourselves who we are and what it is we truly wish to achieve, and to pursue it.’
For full history and information go to http://parkourpedia.com
Parkour has many of the elements that create a great style of a martial practise without the fighting (is this the art of fighting without fight?). It has a founder with a great story (saving 700 people from a volcano!!), the moral code to shape and define the younger generation, amazing physical feats and the ability to cross cultural barriers.