Filipinos leap into parkour

Wed May 20, 2009 1:43pm EDT
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By Rolando Ng

MANILA (Reuters Life!) - Jumping across rooftops is not just for stuntmen or action heroes nowadays as dozens of Filipinos take to parkour, a discipline combining sports and martial arts, to get into shape.

Parkour, French slang for the art of moving, is a physical activity that maximizes the body's efficiency with the aim of overcoming obstacles such as buildings, rails, and even people.

Mimicking monkeys jumping from branch to branch or cats leaping over walls, parkour movements are smooth and swift and rely on the strength and agility of the body.

Parkour, which featured in James Bond movie "Casino Royale" and a music video by Madonna, is also known as free running and has a following in many European cities.

It's also become the latest fitness trend in Manila, with scores of people, from teens to older office workers, taking to the practice instead of going to regular gym sessions.

"The philosophy is going from point A to point B with the least energy and as efficiently as possible," said Nas Solar, founder of the Philippine Parkour and FreeRunning Association.

"Parkour requires mental strength so the practitioner can adapt constantly to his surroundings."

Instead of using the treadmill or lifting weights, parkour practitioners build strength by using their own body weight.   Continued...

<p>A Parkour practitioner leaps over a picnic table in a public park in Marikina, metro Manila May 9, 2009. REUTERS/John Javellana</p>