Parkour Manchester

“There is not a single aspect of my life in Manchester which has been unaffected by Parkour. I can relate everything to the mindset of Parkour”. Ben.


Despite the weather, Manchester is a hotbed of creative energy. Good and great practitioners of the world’s many art forms discovered their craft within the grey and red brick walls of this sometimes bleak city, and they will continue to do so. So if perpetual rain can inspire people to creativity inside, then what of those who ply their trade outside?


There are examples where mancunians have historically defied wet conditions to achieve stardom, football and graffiti immediately spring to mind, but there is a slightly less obvious outdoor activity...


Look a little harder into the rich fabric of culture here and you will find a group of people who instead of being pushed indoors by our famous rain took to the streets to take back the urban space from the developers and the council. They practice parkour (French for journey).


Thought to have its origins in the physical exercise routines of Georges Hébert and later David Belle parkour is essentially a method of overcoming any obstacle in your path, an attempt to travel in a straight line across urban space using a combination of jumping, climbing, swinging, and hanging.

Watching these guys at work is just like watching a graceful acrobat or gymnast at the Olympics, it can be very beautiful.

Made famous following on-screen appearances in popular movies District 13 and Casino Royale and in the English film Breaking and Entering, parkour is an art form which is gathering significant clout and membership, and nowhere less so than in Manchester.


To most people the landscape of Manchester is pretty flat and in therefore you would think pretty uninspiring for jumping around. Wrong! Look closer, what an urban landscape we abandoned building on almost every corner, a half built car-park here, an empty modern public square there. Manchester is like one big obstacle course...


There are maybe 30 dedicated practitioners of parkour in Manchester, I asked Ben, 21, why he does it, he said: “there is so much to be gained by practising it - getting fitter, becoming more agile, improving confidence, understanding healthy living, a better understanding of dealing with problems in life, being able to approach obstacles (physical and otherwise) and sensibly weigh up the possible approaches in order to make a decision on how to overcome them.”


Parkour isn’t just about running and jumping, it is a whole philosophy, and Ben agrees: “There is not a single aspect of my life which has been unaffected by parkour. Everything can be related to the mindset of parkour.


Eager to find out more I pressed Ben to try and find out if there were any competitions in Manchester, he found the question rather odd: “each practitioner has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, so you could probably go to a group and see that one person was the strongest, one was the fastest runner, one had the farthest jump, and so on, but parkour isn't about being the best on one particular area, it's about being the best you can be in all possible areas.”


Next time you’re outside the oyster bar and someone executes a perfect jump down those steps, you know what they were doing!


Written by Tim Walker


Front Cover shot by fly53

For Parkour discussion we recommend
Northern Parkour

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