24 July 2006


Welcome to TCT, or The Cambridge Traceurs.

This website acts as a resource for people in Cambridge interested in practicing parkour, providing accurate information on the discipline and the Cambridge scene. Make sure to read up on what Parkour is and the roots of the discipline in order to grasp a better understanding of what parkour actually is.

Good luck and happy training,

TCT - The Cambridge Traceurs.


What is Le Parkour?


Basically, Parkour is a natural method to train the human body to be able to move forward quickly making use of the environment that's around us at any given time. This 'art of displacement' require neither specific structure nor accessory for its practice. The body is the only tool. It's an athleti discipline accessible to all, because it combines all the natural skills of the human body: running jumping, climbing... It's a sport that permits exploration of the potential offered by your body.
It's about being able to face the obstacles with which you are presented, whether they be in the natural environment or in the urban environment, in a search for movement that combines effectiveness and control.
The necessary equipment is simply a T-shirt, a pair of light jogging-type trousers, and a pair of running shoes.
"C'est comme si votre corps avait toujours ?t? en pilotage automatique et que vous d?couvriez soudain que vous ?tes capable de le piloter vous m?me". -- or, it's as if your body has always been on autopilot, and you've discovered for the first time that you are able to control it!
Running on foot, crawling, jumps, rolling and other methods of catching yourself, grabbing hold of things, hanging from things and balancing are the essence of what fuels this sport. All this towards a single goal: never to be stopped by any obstacle (whether it be wall, grille, hedge, railings, trees, other foliage, bushes, rocks, vehicles, gaps... etc), but to continually adapt.
This way of moving has existed since the dawn of time, where early men had to learn to move skillfully to hunt, to attack and to defend themselves. Later, special groups such as the ninja and, later, commando soldiers were taught movements in order for them to carry out infiltration missions. Today, firefighters, soldiers, and special police intervention teams still learn how to move without being hindered by obstacles.
One man -- David Belle -- has devoted his life to the development of this art. Surrounded by a family comprised of sporting heroes, David practiced sports which had physical action as their base and which allowed him to move effectively (such as gymnastics, athletics, climbing and martial arts).
On this matter, David Belle said (translated from the French): "Passion, way of life, and today sport -- Parkour, first of all, was a natural method to develop all the qualities that are at the natural disposal of the human body. Increasing strength, agility, speed and power were the first steps in this search. As a practitioner of gymnastics, athletics and martial arts I already had certain basic abilities and skills that I found to be limited by the structures required by the various sports I was doing. So, I decided to create a sport in my own style, that is to say, without material constraints; a pair of jogging trousers, a T-shirt, a good pair of running shoes, and myself.
"While running, I'd fix on a point to represent an objective, and tell myself: 'I'm going to go there; I'm going to go there directly; I'm going to go there quickly; and nothing will stop me'. I must add that I was always an enthusiastic admirer and reader of Daredevil, Spider-Man and other superhuman characters from comics, animation and action movies. All excellent warriors, and all so free."

The fundamental idea is a man who runs, and whom nothing stops.
Parkour aims to be a 'complete' sport; by the mindset that it inspires in its practitioners just as much as by the many skills that it develops. It's a difficult discipline to train, because it continually tests the limits of each practitioner. It's all about knowing if one is prepared to stick with existing limits, or if one is prepared to push back those limits as far as possible...
Accessible to all who are 15 or older (due to the necessary physical development), Parkour makes it possible to develop physical fitness and coordination while developing willpower, determination, motivation, strength, endurance, agility and courage: essential qualities in life! It educates and informs young people who are eager for new experiences.
Parkour is much more than a sport. It is a way of life, the way to 'find yourself', even; to learn how to know and control one's own body. One becomes stronger, and learns how to surmount mental obstacles just as much as physical ones.
A word of warning: Certain people -- the reckless -- who assume too much about their physical abilities, and/or do not take full account of the risks are often given a nasty shock -- or even, seriously injured. In the world of Parkour, the mindset is to combine body and spirit, power and control. It's ridiculous to 'seek freedom' but end up broken in a wheelchair -- so, have prudence!
Once could also suggest that a good Traceur (Parkour practitioner) will be an excellent participant in other sports that require cool-headedness, agility, power, good self-control, the ability to be observant and so many other qualities developed in the Traceur as they practice "L'Art du Deplacement", to use a French term.
This is the reason why Parkour is the most complete sport. It recruits and demands all the physical capabilities of the human body at the same time as it requires a perpetual consideration that is, in effect, "3D" -- evaluation of distances, evaluation of capability, evaluation of risk.
Today, Parkour has developed throughout the world, with regional quirks springing up here and there. The media have gradually seized this opportunity; Traceurs have been used for music videos, advertisements and even movies!

Courtesy of www.parkour.net


Le Parkour the Art of Forward Movement

Le Parkour originated in the suburbs of Lisses in France about 18 years ago. Parkour started as some simple childhood games. Founder David Belle and friends formed the concept of Parkour from their childhood and created a new way of moving and a new way of living. Parkour has always been around from the beginning of mankind. In the prehistoric times we had to survive and to do so we had to hunt for our food and run from our enemies. Now that we have new technologies and food on our shelves, we no longer have the need to hunt for our food; we have no need to be active. This is the reason of Parkour and all other sports, as we still want to be active and healthy. This is the basis of Parkour because Parkour is one of the forms of exercise and one of the most natural forms, as it brings us back to our roots of original movement.

Now the art of forward movement known as Le Parkour has been defined and named, it has also developed into something more. Le Parkour is more than a sport; it’s a way of life. It is something that actually changes our lives, changes our perception on things, keeps us healthy, and keeps us open to new ideas, new challenges. This art is about mind as much as it is about body, confronting our barriers and obstacles. Whether it is in the open air of the world we are running through or in our everyday lives.

The idea behind Parkour is to move through our surroundings from A to B with speed, fluidity, elegance, efficiency, and rhythm, using creativeness and imagination. We are to bring movement to those who have none and to embrace our surroundings as well as people in it with the respect it deserves.

I didn’t believe that the human body could do such incredible movements. So we do not waste the potential that our body has; we constantly improve and push our body’s limits as well as our minds. We have our freedom of movement and our curiosity that drives to explore new possibilities. The freedom we have allows us to break free of the constraints of society and the roads and paths that channel us through the cities like sheep. Everyday people wake up and get up in the mornings with a complete lack of curiosity and that free feeling of being able to explore and travel through our surroundings. They just accept what’s in front of them and live it.

The practitioners of this art are called Traceurs. We each have our different paths to take, a unique and individual stream flowing to the same goal, the constant self-improvement, and the freedom of Parkour.

Owen Covill

Roots of Le Parkour

David Belle was born on the 29th April 1973 in F?camp, in the Seine-Maritime departement in Normandy Descended from a modest family from the Parisian suburbs, it was in F?camp and later in the town o Sables d'Olonne that David spent the first fourteen years of his life. Raised by his materna grandfather, Gilbert Kitten (former Regimental Sergeant-Major of the Parisian sapeurs-pompiers militar fire service), David was impressed by tales of heroism, and developed from a young age a passion fo anything to do with action.

His father, Raymond Belle, raised as a young soldier by the French Army in Dalat in Vietnam, was also a sapeur-pompier of the Parisian brigade and an outstanding sportsman; he has been described as nothing less than a 'force of nature'. Raymond was a very highly skilled rescuer, recognised throughout his profession, and has had a large influence on David's life. (For more information on Raymond Belle and the Parisian military firefighters, see the French article "La fabuleuse histoire des pompiers" by Commandant Deroo, the curator of the sapeurs-pompiers' museum in Paris; published in Editions Tallandier magazine.)

Surrounded by such a family of sporting heroes, it was only natural that David became adept at many of the more action-oriented sports such as athletics, gymnastics, climbing and martial arts. On a journey of self-discovery, the young David left school at 15 in order to devote himself to his passion for sport. But not just any sport; for him, sport had to be useful above all else. The strength and agility developed through sport must also be useful in life, as David's father had often advised him.

Subsequently, partially to be like his father and partially in a spirit of youthful adventure, David would imagine scenarios where he had to use his physical abilities to escape difficult situations; scenarios where he would have to show strength and courage. How to get to a given place in order to carry out a rescue there? How to move so as not to be trapped? By acting out such scenarios, the agility of this intrepid youngster began to come into effect.

Running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, hanging from things, keeping his balance, surpassing himself, developing his self-confidence, being able to overcome obstacles so he could continue to advance... For David, all these things became an obsession. An obsession to release himself from all obstacles, constraints and fears, and to be able to go wherever he chose to go; achievements owing as much to mental development as to physical prowess.

Still aged 15, David moved to the Paris area; in particular to Lisses, a Parisian suburb near Evry. It was during this time that he would meet other young people who were to follow him (such as the Yamakasi, who David guided for eight years). Continually seeking more action, but aware of the accompanying dangers, David took and passed the French national First Aid certificate during the time of his national service. It was only natural that he would go on to join the fire brigade, and obtain the UFOLEP certificate of gymnastics leadership. Unfortunately, David went on to injure his wrist; he was discharged temporarily, but did not return.

The nature of the firefighters' life was known by David since he was a small child; in addition to his grandfather and his father, his older brother was to join the brigade of pompiers. Even at this stage, though, David's independent spirit was clear; upon recovering from his injury, he chose to join a regiment of the French Marine corps at Vannes. During this time he was successfully promoted, became the Regimental rope-climbing record holder and champion (just as his father had been), gained a certificate of honour for his gymnastic agility, and was first in the Essonne obstacle course championship.

Despite all this, though, David felt somewhat restricted by the regulated environment of the military. His love of adventure and desire for freedom was too strong: sport and the parcours ("obstacle coursing") were his only real loves. Needless to say, the odd jobs that he had thereafter -- warehouse worker, security guard or furniture salesman -- did not satisfy him. He decided to leave for India in order to achieve a black belt in Chinese gong fu.

David always desires authenticity, or du vrai ("the truth") as he likes to say, yet always seeks his own path. One can easily understand his worries at the time. How was he to live for his passion for a discipline still in its outline stages; a discipline partly practiced by soldiers as the "parcours du combattant" (military obstacle course), and by firefighters as the "parcours SP" (firefighter's obstacle course)?

In the end, his art was to coalesce from a combination of many things. Things his father had tried out while still a young soldier in Vietnam; gymnastic training; overcoming fear of danger; concentration; the idea of moving to any given place without physical constraint; the feeling of freedom and being alive -- there are some of the ingredients of "Parkour".

Parkour has no regulatory federation, nor official clubs, nor competitions. It's not about standardisation, or money; just the desire to practice the parkour, without formal rules but with a sporit of honesty and humility -- and much work on self-improvement.

David had made some videos showing what he was capable of, artistically edited and set to music; it is from these that the first recorded images of Parkour came. It seems that the application of such footage is obvious: promotional and music videos, advertisements, action movies, shows and so on. If he continued, David could move further into the entertainment industry, where many prospects were available to him and where his determination to work and his need for creativity would be satisfied. It was necessary, however, for him to wait a little longer to achieve his aims.

It was to the Stade 2 team (Francis Marroto, Pierre Sleed and Pierre Salviac) in May 1997 that the first footage of David was shown. Thrilled by the footage, they decided to film a piece about David the following week. The rest, as they say, is history.

The goal was simple: by means of parkour, willpower and effort, to find his own motivation. David was to be involved with various groups: 'the speed-air men', the 'catmen', 'la Rel?ve' and notably 'les traceurs'; the word 'traceur' has since been used to describe a practitioner of David's parkour.

Meanwhile, again, the silver screen enticed David; but would cinema pass his Parkour by? To help ensure otherwise, he met with Hubert Kound? (lead actor in the movie "La haine", directed by M. Kasowitch). Hubert initiated David into the arts of theatre, and helped him take his first steps in the medium of film. David still needed to improve; he continued his training with Pygmalion, and in time, discovered the world of acting.

He turned first to some promotional videos (Tina Turner, Iam and M?n?lik, amongst others). Later, he appeared in some TV films and short movies, such as the Hugues de Logardi?res film "Les gens du voyages" and the Igor Pejic film "Un monde meilleur". It was not long before David made appearances in several feature films: the Franck Nicotra movie "L'Engrenages" and Brian de Palma's "Femme Fatale", as well as "Les rivi?res pourpres 2" (Crimson Rivers 2), starring Jean Reno and co-written by Luc Besson. It was to be Luc Besson, after David had further proved himself in adverts and promos for the BBC, Nissan and Nike, who would give David his big chance: co-starring with Cyril Raffaeli in the French action movie "Banlieue 13".

And still, the parkour continues. Today, David Belle begins his parkour World Tour with the association he created -- PAWA -- and the team of traceurs that he has formed. And this is only the beginning.

Original French biography referenced to David-Belle.com

courtesy of www.parkour.net

Ethics of Training

This is intended to be a rough guide to training in Cambridge, and for that matter, anywhere else you decide to train:

1) Respect people:
Parkour is a fairly misunderstood activity, and by the very nature of it, people can misinterpret it in certain negative ways. Try and be very calm and straightforward with people, try not to argue with anyone. It is for the most part best not to train in front of many members of the public, and training in quieter areaas means that you can practice how you want. Remember the parkour is not for show, so there is no reason that you should train in front of others.
If a security guard or someone who owns the property you are training on asks you to leave, just be very polite and say of course. Do NOT get into arguments with these people as it can ruin it for any other practicioners who were not involved, be as favourable as you can be with the company or person there, this way you have more chance of training again there in the future. There are many security guards or people who will have a really bad attitude and swear at you to leave etc, but just ignore what they say, pick up your things and leave quietly, dont let them remember you as a hooligan who shouted back. If you also injure yourself on someone elses property, drag yourself off and dont get them involved, they dont owe you anything, so make sure you are careful and dont try to sue or cast blames. You are the one who is on their property, and you are using it for something it was not meant for.

2) Respect the environment
When moving, a traceur should go unnoticed. Leave the places you train at in the same condition you arrived at. Do NOT litter or break anything, and even if you arrive at a spot with litter, make an effort to put some away. As a tracuer, you need to look after the places where you train, so be proactive in making sure you do not tarnish anywhere, especially if you are training in nature. Be respectful towards the environment, do your part for it as in around 50-100 years, its really going to be a much worse place to live thanks to the mark the human race is leaving with its pollution and resource expenditure.

3) Train for yourself
When training, you should be doing it for yourself. Parkour is not about competition or comparing yourself to others, the only competition is against yourself. Don't compare yourself to what others can do, and don't think you ought to try something that you maybe saw someone else do unless you have the training and experience to back it. Each person has their own path, follow yours and develop for yourself. Learn what you want to learn, and train what you want to train. Maybe you have painful knees one day and eveyone else you are with is practicing things with impact such as jumps. Think of yourself and say, "maybe i will do stretching or conditioning today" and set yourself some targets. Train for yourself.

4) Be helpful
Remember that as someone who trains parkour, you are priviliged. More than 2/3rds of the world will be struggling for another day to live, many people are unable to practice for many reasons, so remember and appreciate that we are extremely lucky to be able to practice this. As such, be helpful to those that need it. Teach a little that you know to someone who is interested or help someone to carry something if they are struggling, just be aware of other people around you. "Etre fort pour etre utile", "be strong to be useful".

5) Train hard and quiet
Train hard each session, and train quietly. Do not shout, do not be loud, do not be a disturbance. Try and do something new with each session, even if it is one more pullup repetition. Try to feel your progression, so train hard. Make sure you train the basics very, very, very hard and often. Work on small jumps, strength, balance to reinforce your co-ordination, awareness, and your physical condition so that you can do bigger things without injury. Do not constantly put demands on your joints by doing big jumps and drops, train the small things much and often so that your body becomes strong to do the bigger things. Train your techniques over, over, and over. Lay your foundations then build up from there, with bad foundations you can easily injure yourself or worse. So repeat multiplied by 100000000000000000000000.

TCT - The Cambridge Traceurs


A regular area for training is around Lion Yard shopping mall, as per the map below.  Unfortunately, due to the irregular and somewhat unorganised nature of the Cambridge Parkour scene, there is no way of publishing any set training times for newcomers to refer to. 

However, the norm dictates that people will usually be training around the Lion Yard spot as shown on the map most days around 1-2PM.

Feel free to drop by and join in!

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TCT - The Cambridge Traceurs