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Parkour on Campus- A Persuasive Essay

 APK_Symbol   The following is an essay written by Kurt Gowan a traceur attending DeVry University. In this essay Gowan writes about all the possible arguments schools could have against allowing Parkour on their campus. He also refutes them with strong evidence found from many different sources throughout the Parkour community. These sources include Parkour Generations, personal Interviews, and American Parkour. 

    Gowan wrote this for his English Composition final and received 250 points out of 250! Kurt did a great job on this.

To read the full Essay click below...

"Parkour on Campus"

Kurt Gowan

DeVry University

     Parkour is an activity that is quickly gaining popularity in the United States.  It can easily be found in all types of media from TV shows and commercials to magazines and movies.  Although it is growing in popularity, it is just as rapidly gaining a negative image in the eyes of many.  Many college campuses across the country do not allow students to train on their grounds because they fear that parkour is just too dangerous and not worth the risks.  When you consider all of the great things parkour involves, it seems ridiculous to prohibit it.  College campuses should allow students to practice parkour on school property because it is a great way to meet new people, promotes a healthy lifestyle, is safe when practiced correctly, encourages community involvement, and is practically free.

    Larger parkour training sessions, also known as "jams", are a great way to meet new people.  Approximately 75 people showed up to participate at a "beginner's jam" hosted by Chicago Parkour on October 17th, 2009 at the University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago Parkour Meetup).  I myself attended this event, and met many new great friends that I now see on a regular basis for training.  During the warmer seasons of the year, Benjamin "Strafe" Zumhagen, one of the leaders of Chicago Parkour, hosts what is known as the "Stego Jams" every weekend at Grant Park.  Zumhagen agrees that jams can be an excellent way to meet new people and estimates that an average of between 5 and 10 new people attend his jams every week (B. Zumhagen, personal communication, January 30, 2011).  The vast number of jams held by communities worldwide opens up the possibility of student travel to other states, or even countries!  Many traceurs are willing to provide housing to traveling traceurs in-town for a big jam.  Parkour builds a great sense of camaraderie, especially when a group of traceurs train together regularly and experience difficult training together.

    Given the physical demands of training, parkour promotes a healthier lifestyle.  The majority of traceurs condition their bodies to become stronger and more controlled during movements.  John Conway, a Level 1 ADAPT qualified parkour instructor, affiliate coach of Parkour Generations (one of the most well-known parkour organizations in the world), and director of Progressive Motion Parkour Association, says that "conditioning makes a person more prepared so that if a fall does occur, they are strong enough to get right back up and keep training with no threats to safety" (J. Conway, personal communication, January 30, 2011).  Even for those who do not partake in conditioning, training the movements repeatedly uses a majority of the body's muscles, and newcomers will often immediately feel the effects of their training.  One of the philosophies of parkour is to keep moving... to get out of your chair or off of your couch, get outside, and move.  The human body is built in a way that allows us to do great things.  Tim "Livewire" Shieff is one of many world-renowned traceurs from the UK.  Shieff has recently said: "You've got four limbs...two arms, two legs, feet, hands.  And what do you use them for?  To walk to the train station.  To type on the keyboard . . . you've got all this potential, you're not using it" (Marsh, 2011).  Parkour can open your eyes to a whole new world of what your body can achieve.  Oftentimes practitioners also realize that healthier eating habits are beneficial to their training and make changes to their diets that improve overall health.  Personally, parkour has helped me appreciate my body more and I have made many changes in my life, including dropping soda and fast foods from my diet altogether.  A lot of practitioners choose not to drink or smoke because of the negative effects it would have on their bodies and training.  With more respect for our bodies, we take better care of them in many ways, including protecting them from damage or harm.

    Contrary to what many believe, parkour, practiced correctly, is safe to both the participants and to the environments in which they train.  It is true that parkour is inherently dangerous.  No traceur can deny this.  However, other sports already supported by colleges nationwide are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than parkour.  In an informational packet composed by Parkour Visions, a large non-profit organization for parkour in the Northwest, it is said that "most parkour injuries consist of sprained ankles, small scrapes, and cuts that occur when traceurs are careless or attempting something beyond their capabilities (for example, jumping from too high up). But even these injuries tend to happen less often than in other competitive sports where there is more pressure to perform and to move in a very specific way" (Parkour Info Packet, p. 2).  Analyzing a long list of injuries reported on, we can see that over 2,000 injuries were suffered by players in college football  in 2010 (College Injury Report).  Without competition or physical contact with other practitioners, traceurs have a much lower chance of sustaining injuries than do the players of existing sports.  Though it can be aesthetically pleasing, parkour is not about showing off.  In a video interview recorded by Craig Pentak in 2009, Stephane Vigroux, a director of Parkour Generations who trained with the original founders of the discipline, says "For the moment, the problem is [that] we have a misunderstanding of what it [really is].  It is not just about doing a back flip [to] impress your friends" (Cecka, 2009).  Serious practitioners of parkour view the activity as a discipline that is applied to improve every aspect of an individual's life.  With proper instruction and explanation, parkour becomes very safe.

    Another concern that schools may have is that their property would be damaged.  Many of the movements require a traceur to jump and climb on a wide variety of structures.  A common initiative among traceurs is "Leave No Trace", inspiring practitioners to take care of their training grounds and take accountability for any mishaps that may occur.  In addition to cleaning up during and after training, there have been many events held to help cleanup parks, playgrounds, and other training areas in our communities.  The “Leave No Trace Tracker,” found on the home page of, shows that a reported 290 bags of trash have been picked up by groups of parkour practitioners around the country in 39 cleanup events since December 2008 (American Parkour, 2011).  In an article on the Parkour Visions website, Jeremy Modjeska (2009) writes that Leave No Trace is based on two ideas.  The first is that you should know your environment and the limits of the things you are training on.  The second is that you should leave areas in which you train in conditions as good as, or better than, you found them in.  Leave No Trace also includes trying to find ways not to leave scuff marks on walls with your shoes (Modjeska, 2009).  Some traceurs are even known to train barefoot, which would certainly avoid leaving any sole marks, but might bring up new concerns of safety and liability.

    Remaining concerns about liability and insurance coverage could easily be appeased with the implementation of a waiver.  Current practitioners are already used to signing waivers as many gymnasiums and other organizations (such as Parkour Visions) across the country are already utilizing them.  Jesus “Scales” Crespo of Chicago Parkour says “our willingness to sign waivers comes from our understanding that we train at our own risk” (J. Crespo, personal communication, February 23, 2011).  We know the risks of parkour and we know that it is our decision to do this.  Any injury is our own fault and we don’t look for compensation.  Schools could also set reasonable boundaries for the activities in the waiver, prohibiting training from public indoor areas and utilizing existing trespassing policies for rooftops.  Costs of liability should not be a concern at all.

    Speaking of costs, let’s take a look at what it would cost in order to get a parkour club up and running. There are no uniforms, balls, equipment, or expensive fields to pay into.  Parkour is as cheap as any club or activity could be; most students already have the "equipment" necessary to train, and the school already has the "field" for which to play on.  Although many practitioners enjoy spending time in gymnasiums, the real training is done outside on everyday obstacles like railings, ledges, staircases, and walls.  Dedicated traceurs will even train outdoors through the winter, braving the cold and teaching their bodies how to move in snow and on ice.  In the event that weather conditions did not permit outdoor training, the students could meet indoors for conditioning, utilizing the same areas that a sports team would for weightlifting and other exercises.  Parkour is greatly adaptable and portable.  Practitioners can bring the training with them anywhere they go, and the philosophies behind it can be applied in many situations.

    Colleges should not pass up the opportunity to provide their students and staff with the many benefits that parkour has to offer.  Social networking could potentially increase, practicing students will become more health-aware, and the janitorial staff might receive some assistance cleaning up the grounds.  With proper instruction of the discipline, risks are minimized.  The implementation of a liability waiver and a handful of ground rules would counteract any legal issues.  Lastly, many schools could establish a parkour club for their students with virtually no expenses.  With all this in mind, there should be no reason not to allow parkour to be practiced on campus!  


American Parkour. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from

Chicago Parkour Meetup. Retrieved January 29, 2011, from

Cecka, T. (2009, January 27) Stephane Vigroux interview.  Retrieved January 29, 2011, from


College Injury Report. College injury report: 2010 week 19. Retrieved January 30, 2011, from

Marsh, M. Imagination is everything.  Retrieved February 22, 2011, from

Modjeska, J. Leave no trace. Retrieved February 23, 2011, from


Parkour Visions (2008).Parkour info packet. Retrieved January 29, 2011, from Parkour Visions Website: info-packet.pdf

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1. 27-04-2011 00:02

Wow this is great! Ive actually been looking to start a parkour club but in high school. I could probably send a link to this essay to my schools admin, or if possible get permission to print.

2. 27-04-2011 03:51

really good read!

3. 27-04-2011 04:35

That is a very good argument, is the author ok with us sharing this with others who question whether parkour should be allowed or not?

4. 27-04-2011 08:08

I'm waiting for Kurt's OK now. I'll let you know!

5. 27-04-2011 18:24

Hey guys, feel free to use/print/reference my essay as you please (not for your essay assignments of course, :-p). All I ask is that you keep my name with it!

6. 05-05-2011 19:28

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7. 08-05-2011 07:16

That's what I tired telling the activities director at my school. Seriously, about half of the principals at my high school and the activities director hate me because I'm trying to spread this "dangerous habit." They don't accept that it's a sport and it couldn't become a club for two reasons that make no sense to me. 1- Parkour isn't related to the school's curriculum. Okay, but you have an Anime Club. Anime isn't related to the school's curriculum at all. So that reason isn't substantial. 2- There are liability issues with parkour. Well, there's the liability waiver. I said this and he said the school would still be liable for injuries. They sponsor football and baseball where people have broken their arms and stuff like that so that's not a good reason, either. I think if I use the logic found in this essay, there's a chance he'll agree with me and let me spread parkour. -crossing fingers-

8. 12-05-2011 01:01

This Essay was A good one. If my be able to talk my superintendent to start a parkour Club. Thanks.

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