Running and jumping from one rooftop to the next. Sprinting to the ledge of a 10 foot drop, then hitting the ground into a tuck-n-roll so you don't break your ankles. Scaling a wall with nothing but a single-foot leap, grasping the concrete ledge then pulling up to the base of your own Mt Everest. It all boils down to Body Control & Fear. Learn control and the fear will dissipate.
Parkour is the art of traversing your environment with maximum efficiency. To scale any and all obstacles of a given terrain using only your body.
The History of the discipline goes all the way back to World War I when French Naval Officer Georges Hébert witnessed the indigenous African tribesman and their strong, lean bodies which they had developed only through interacting with the jungle. Hébert began training his men to attack land obstacles using walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, balancing, throwing, lifting, self-defense and swimming. Obstacle Course Running is still done by most military regimens around the world for the sole purpose of endurance and body control.
Then their are those of us who do it strictly for fun. Free Running is Parkour for everyone. Where Parkour can be dangerous and extremely painful, Free Running is more practical. The disciplines are essentially the same but Free Running is more inclusive according to Sébastien Foucan, one of the original practicioners of Parkour. Basically, we the amateurs Free Run & the Pro's do Parkour.
The Best Parkour Artists in the world like Jerome Ben Aoues, John Hennigan, Daniel Ilabaca, Ryan Doyle, Tim Shief and Damien Walters have shared their artform through famous videos like Jump London & Choose Not to Fall. They've inspired thousands to get outside and find out what they're made of, or at least find out how much it hurts to fall. Make no mistake Parkour and Free Running are practices like the Martial Arts which require years of study and practice. But like anything else, proper training and discipline will allow almost anyone to master these artforms. That means falling and failing but getting back up and trying again. Over and over again.
It really is gymnastics on the street. Instead of using high bars and trampolines, traceurs & free runners use bannisters and buildings. They learn to fall gradually, that is to land on the ground on your tip-toes in a forward position tucking to roll onto one's hands then shoulders. The best technique and form will result in zero injury. But once again, Optimal Technique & Form can only be learned through years of practice.
Gyms are being built as we speak. Areas have been designed. Courses are under construction. The idea is not to discourage but encourage people to Free Run. Obstacle Running is great for the body and mind. Parkour, as taught by originators Raymond & David Belle, is meant to promote respect for people & the environment. Respect the elements, Natural & Man-Made. Anyone can learn these disciplines and appreciate what they stand for. The Idea is to be healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit.
You won't need a skateboard or a ball for this stuff. Only Balls. Metaphorically speaking of course:)