Out of the corner of your eye you see a back flip. “PARKOUR!” you yell. The back flipping persons turns to you with a look of disgust on their face. “I’m a tricker. It’s not parkour.” That person could be pretty ticked off, leaving you to wonder what kind of cardinal crime you have just committed. To the casual observer you may not notice the differences between parkour and tricking, but make no mistake, there are plenty of them. Movement arts tend to be rich in culture and tradition, parkour and tricking being no exceptions. In parkour the cultural standard for a group event is a parkour JAM. In tricking, they refer to their large group meetups as gatherings, and they tend to be formatted very differently from parkour jams. The differences between a tricking gathering and a parkour jam, are vastly indicative of the greater differences between the two disciplines as a whole.
A Parkour jam can be a one day or multi day event usually centered around a gym, an outdoor spot, or a build out. There are thousands of parkour jams that happen each year, with some of the more popular ones being, 4TLOM (summer and winter), TIT Jam, and Beast Coast. Parkour jams are often multi-day with lodging provided at the gym, a local campground, or community members humble abodes. Most jams have both an indoor and outdoor component, as well as they travel between multiple outdoor training spots. Because parkour is based around using one's surroundings, and the obstacles around you, jams tend to migrate as they go, moving from spot to spot. Parkour and competition have a complicated relationship,(See our article on the 2017 Airwipp competition here: https://www.ppkphilly.com/global-community/2017/11/13/air-wipp-challenge) some believe it’s the best way to progress the sport, and others believe that competition corrodes at the core values of parkour. Plenty of parkour jams have competition aspects, but (for the most part) they are not the primary focus of the jam.
In martial arts tricking, the meetup of choice is referred to as a ‘Gathering’, and while it is similar in many ways, and may even take place in the exact same location as a parkour jam, there are a couple quintessential differences to point out. Often incorporated with gatherings are battles, trickings competition style of choice. As with parkour, tricking has evolved from several other sports over the years, notably: Breakdancing, Gymnastics, and Martial Arts (such as Wushu). The most noticeable influence when it comes to battles is breakdancing, two or more teams/crews will be matched up against each other. To see who can win the emotions of the crowd and the judges by the best stylish, biggest trick or best combo. Usually battles will start off with minimal tricks and progressively get harder throughout the battle while each team tries to one up the other. Gatherings are placed for trickers to come together to showcase their style, learn from other trickers and overall build a community in their area. With nearly every large tricking gathering, there are battles between top level trickers.
Now that we’ve highlighted some of the differences between jams and gatherings, there are plenty of similarities to point out as well! Both tricking and parkour are movement disciplines that are still in the adolescent phase, and have a lot of room to grow. The direction of the sports are still (relatively) easily influenced , and new moves and combinations are discovered and landed nearly every day. Both of the communities are thoroughly passionate and have developed full cultures surrounding the sports, including magazines and news venues, as well as youtube stars, and professional athletes. Tricking ‘Hooked’ gathering will be on its 5th year running this year, tickets and more information can be found at https://www.hookedgathering.com !
Tricking and parkour athletes are considered to be some of the strongest and most adept athletes in the world, and as tricking swiftly catches up to gymnastics in raw power, we are going to continue to see more and more insanity thrown all the time. Parkour and tricking can complement each other beautifully as we see in athletes like Zen Shimada, Pasha Petkuns, Dimitri Kyrsandris, and many others. As each of these sports grow they will show us new possibilities with the human body, as we discover what we can truly achieve.