First and foremost, parkour is the art of movement. It is a discipline that enables practitioners to develop their ability to move in all environments and circumstances, whether urban or rural, in fast, efficient and effective manner. It involves training all of the various ways of moving, from walking to sprinting, from crawling to jumping and climbing, so that practitioners are able to move effectively in any situation they may find themselves in. The training also teaching you the other skills that are necessary, such as concentration, focus and relaxation. It involves learning not only how to do all these things, but also ways of improving these abilities beyond your current level.
One of the most important benefits of this is the physical fitness. Parkour involves challenging such as wide variety of your physical capabilities that it forms a much more complete exercise for the body than almost any other activity, which has obvious benefits in terms of health and fitness.
Alongside this is the training to develop ones ability to overcome obstacles. Parkour is a way of gaining the mental tools, the determination, confidence, bravery and energy to persevere with physical challenges and trains you how to approach each new challenge in a way that will give you the best chance of overcoming it. Learning to pass each new challenging obstacle helps you learn that you can overcome all obstacles.
Parkour is also a way to develop your ability to live life in its entirety. The skills that practitioners learn that deal with how to move (concentration, focus etc.) and how to overcome obstacles (confidence, perseverance, determination, problem solving etc.) are the same skills used in other tasks. The qualities you need to overcome physical obstacles like walls (confidence, determination, problem solving etc.) are the same as those for overcoming challenges in all areas of life, and nearly every activity involves some aspect of movement, as even something as simple as writing or typing involves some element of physicality. Through practicing parkour you develop fundamental skills that improve your all round capabilities.
It is also an excellent way of learning about who you are and what you want out of life. By challenging yourself physically and mentally in a wide range of areas, and discovering and pushing your limits you begin to understand what you are truly capable of. This self knowledge then gives you the freedom to explore all the possibilities of life and discover the areas you enjoy.
It is therefore a good way of gaining perspective on life. The more you practice parkour and the more you learn about yourself and the practicalities of human capabilities, the more you start to appreciate how much of what many people consider ‘essential’ is self-imposed. Parkour helps us remain in touch with who we truly are and appreciate the natural simplicity of life.
Parkour is not something that can be learned quickly. Improvement is constant, but progression is not instantaneous, partly for reasons of safety and partly because it can take a while for new knowledge to be absorbed. It is also not an easy art to practice. It is filled with challenges, both physical and mental, and this can seem daunting at first. After a period of time, however, you start to appreciate the necessity of challenging yourself in learning about yourself and improving and the impression of difficulty falls away.
Fundamentally, parkour is a practical discipline. It is not an artistic pastime, the lessons it teaches are ones of practicality and of reality, not style and abstract representation. It teaches an appreciation of the basics, the necessities, of life, and allows practitioners to use these to create a long and happy life for themselves and others.