|Creative Commons image from Flickr|
Parkour, also known as freerunning, is an up-and-coming urban training discipline allowing athletes of all skills levels to push their bodies to the limit and explore their environment in a new way. Sebastien Foucan is known as one of the world’s most prolific parkour professionals, and has inspired countless aspiring athletes with his skills and philosophy. Let’s take a closer look at this internationally recognised freerunning ambassador and the emerging sport that’s capturing imaginations across the globe.
Pioneers of Parkour
The discipline of parkour was originally developed by French stunt coordinator David Belle, who was inspired by his father Raymond, a renowned soldier and fire fighter. Together with his childhood friend Sebastien Foucan and other young athletes who shared their passion for embracing physical challenges, Belle formed a group of parkour practitioners known as the Yamakasi in the 1980s. The discipline has been gaining popularity ever since, and parkour athletes – also known as traceurs – regularly appear in movies, music videos and promotional campaigns. As the discipline has developed, it has become more widely known under the name of freerunning, largely pioneered by the likes of Sebastien Foucan.
Foucan’s Rise to Fame
The 38-year-old Sebastien Foucan is known around the world not only as a freerunning instructor, but also as a public speaker and occasional actor. His most notable on-screen appearances to date are arguably his role as Mollaka in the opening chase scene of the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale, and his appearance in Madonna’s 2005 music video Jump. In 2009, he landed a role in the independent thriller The Tournament, working alongside world-famous names including Ving Rhames and Robert Carlyle. He has also appeared in numerous documentaries on parkour, namely Mike Christie’s Jump London and Jump Britain.
Foucan stresses that freerunning and parkour are not competitive disciplines; rather they are forms of self-expression through movement. When stipulating the core values of freerunning, he encourages athletes to respect each other and the environment, and to channel their energy in a positive way. He also states that the discipline is not an exclusive one; it can be practised by anybody with a love of movement.
Sebastien Foucan has also applied his talents to the world of sporting fashion; in November 2012 he collaborated with K-Swiss to create the Ariake, the world’s first parkour and freerunning shoe. He is also working on a new clothing collection from Jonny Wilkinson.
As his career progresses, Sebastien Foucan will doubtless encourage many more young athletes to follow in his footsteps.
Nicky Warner is a blogger who prefers reading and writing to extreme sports, but this inspiring story is tempting her to get into a pair of sneakers and workwear trousers to try her hand at parkour!