Oxford Parkour is a community for Parkour practitionners, Free Runners and movers in Oxfordshire. Our goal is to make Parkour safe, accessible and easy to get into for anyone who wants to learn, as well as providing resources (and people to train with) for existing practitionners to better explore the fantastic architecture and movement possibilities provided by Oxford.
The vast majority of the people in our community joined as beginners, so we are very used to introducing people to our discipline! To help you get going, we run a variety of sessions throughout the year, from fully structured, 'class' like sessions, to the more unstructured, jam of training together to something in between. It's open to anybody, student or not.
Parkour is quite a difficult thing to explain, and the best (and possibly only) way to understand what it is is experience. However, you're on this page because you want to know more about it, so I'll do my best.
Though it's often wrongly perceived as an extreme sport, at its core it is simply a discipline of movement: learning to move more freely and efficiently in an urban environment, improving our ability to overcome different obstacles, and increasing our capabilities of what we can do both physically and mentally. Although it is similar to gymnastics both in some of the movements and in the focus on improving your movement, it is also quite like a martial art in the training and purpose.
More simply, it's just about getting fit in a physically diverse and challenging way which is much more fun and interesting than just going to the gym.
Parkour is about movement, but it is also a concept; a mindset; a style of training; a way of thinking. It is quite a personal sport as because it is just a general idea of obstacle training there is no set list of moves (apart from a foundation set to work from) and everyone has a slightly different style, which can incorporate different perspectives on obstacles, personal strengths and backgrounds. It's non-competitive and is simply about challenging and improving yourself.
For this reason, it's open to anybody to try out, no matter how unfit or unsporty you are. Though it is easier if you are more athletic/stronger/etc, because it's just about improving yourself you can start from anywhere.
Parkour was developed as a concept by a group of teenagers in France around 20 years ago, though this is only the modern version of the discipline (given that the point of it is to move back to more natural, instinctive movement). When it was introduced into the world stage (largely via London) it was given an English equivalent term - 'freerunning'. Though it was originally meant to be the same as parkour, some people consider freerunning to be a adaptation of parkour which adds in more of a show element, though for the purposes of this group I'm treating them as the same.
If you're interested in trying it out then join in, or if you'd like to find out more about it, there's a lot of information on the internet about it (though I would recommend the parkourgenerations website, www.parkourgenerations.com).
I started training in 2014, with basically no sporting experience or general fitness. Parkour is uniquely challenging and fun, the scope is practically limitless, and Oxford Parkour is an incredibly welcoming community. I've been leading sessions since 2015 and my face has ended up on a few too many promotional videos since then (sorry everyone). I have been hugely impressed by the imagination, engagement and passion of everyone involved in the Oxford Parkour Community.
Although I was first introduced to parkour in 2010, it was only when I joined Oxford Parkour in November 2014 that I really discovered my love for this sport and started to properly train. What I love about parkour is that it frees you from any of the worries and doubts related to everyday life. Out there, it's you and you alone believing in yourself and what you can achieve, guided through the expertise and fun suggestions of your fellow traceurs. Oxford Parkour has taught me much and made me realise that I could apply parkour movements and mentality to so many other aspects of my life.
Humility, discipline, patience. The understanding of all three eluded me before I began practicing Parkour. But now they are the fuels which drive my training. Having struggled to find a sport or past time that coincided with my abilities and principles, I was eventually introduced to Parkour in 2013 by a group of friends. However, Parkour became more than a sport for me, and instead became a philosophical pursuit. It's a discipline that can advise us on how to lead our lives, and how to approach obstacles; whether these are physical or mental. Parkour didn't just change me, it changed my world.
Alex has been practicing parkour for about five years and has coached over a hundred sessions now, mostly with the group but also in schools. He is glad to have seen the group grow from humble beginnings in 2012 and loves that there are now many different people organising sessions and training together in Oxford.
Having lived and trained all over the UK, I seem to have finally settled on Oxford as my home town. Having training Parkour since 2005, I know just how big an impact this discipline can have on a practitioner's life. Those years have also taught me the importance of having a solid local community to train with which is why I am honoured to have a part in this fantastic community and have the chance to pass on what I have learned to others!