Parkour Grammar

Alright, here I go again down the rabbit hole of parkour grammar.

In one of my previous posts, 5 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Practices Parkour, I touched upon how parkour is an irregular verb and why me calling someone who trains parkour a parkourer was just plain wrong.  Well, I may, in fact, have got it wrong again.

If you aren’t a language nerd like me, this might not be nearly as exciting, but it turns out that parkour seems to be exclusively used as a noun, and robustly resists derivation to another part of speech category, a process referred to as functional shift.

Why is this important? Well, if you love language like me, then going through various sentence types and evaluating what category of speech a word seems to belong to is utterly fascinating. On a more practical level though, as a girlfriend of someone who trains parkour, it’s good to understand how language surrounding parkour should and shouldn’t be used.

First of all, parkour is not a verb, as shown in the following examples:

  • Resists the -ing ending of a progressive verb
    • We will be parkouring later if you want to join us
    • We will be training later if you want to join us ✓
  • Cannot be used as an infinitive verb
    • Do you want to come parkour with us? X
    • Do you want to come train with us? ✓
  • The word ‘do’ cannot be used to support parkour as a verb
    • We should parkour together soon. X
    • We should do parkour together soon. X
    • We should train parkour together soon. ✓
    • We should practice parkour together soon. ✓
  • Cannot be conjugated in the past tense:
    • She parkoured down the street. X
    • She did a line down the street. ✓

Parkour is also not an adjective, as demonstrated by the ungrammaticality of attaching the comparative -er or superlative -est endings to the root:

  • That was a parkourer flip than last week. X
  • That’s the parkourest flip I’ve seen all week. X

In fact, the word parkour does not seem to carry any descriptive value:

  • She parkours better than him. X

Parkour refers to human movement in no particular sequence. Thus, this sentence is essentially read as, “She is better at human movement than he is,” giving no concrete comparative measure.

In short, parkour is a noun used to refer to the practice of physical movement that tests one’s physical and mental limitations. It cannot be done, or taught, or learned better or worse than anyone. Literally in the words of Max Henry, “Parkour can only be discovered.”

On a bit of a side note, I learned that most trainers do not reference the indoor location where they train as a parkour gym. Within the community, it is assumed that if you are going to the gym, you are training parkour, so it’s almost redundant to specify. I don’t know if this means that no parkour practitioners go to the weightlifting gym, but if you tell someone who trains parkour that you’re going to the gym, they’ll likely say, “Hey, I’ll come with you!” and fully expect to be at a parkour gym.

Until next time, remember, in the words of David Belle, “Obstacles are found everywhere, and in overcoming them we nourish ourselves.”

3 Rad Reactions to Finding Out Your Boyfriend Practices Parkour or Wants to Start Learning

Podi.Maiku February 23rd, 2018
The statue I am forever jealous of because it got the first kiss

Thus far, this blog has been about my journey learning about parkour from my boyfriend and my own research. I found out my boyfriend did parkour the day we met when I watched him scale a giant statue near Place du Canada but, because we are in a long-distance relationship, it is entirely possible that I could not have known he did parkour until after we started dating. This got me thinking about what my reaction would be if I found out later, or if he told me he wanted to start learning how to practice parkour. After going through various reaction simulations with my boyfriend, I have come up with my top 3 rad reactions to learning that your boyfriend practices parkour or wants to learn.

“I’d love to learn more about parkour!”

When I first heard my boyfriend did parkour, I took to the Internet to learn more about it, and was shocked at the lack of resources available for people completely unfamiliar with parkour who weren’t necessarily looking to train. Hence this blog was born. I wanted to create a space that was tailored to understanding what parkour was and navigating a relationship with someone whose passion encompasses their physical, mental, creative, and philosophical being. Plus, it’s always great to know what not to say or do when going to a parkour gym or meeting other parkour practitioners.

This is not to say that you have to go out and become a parkour pro because your boyfriend trains, but it’s nice to show an interest in something your partner is passionate about, and this interest can take many forms. For me, it was reading books about parkour, like Breaking the Jump by Julie Angel (which became my boyfriend’s Easter present last year) and Max Henry’s The Parkour Roadmap, both of which gave me a solid understanding of the history and lifestyle of parkour. For more spatial learners, there are lots of great videos of people doing parkour on YouTube and Instagram showcasing parkour around the world. And for the kinaesthetic learners, there are parkour training facilities or gyms in most major cities now, and an introductory class is an excellent way to get some hands-on experience with what parkour is really like. However, if you live in an area without a parkour gym, you can usually find parkour groups or communities online, and you can learn more about when their next training session will be from there.

“I’d love to come watch you train sometime!”

This reaction falls under the broad category of being supportive. Just like how you’d want your boyfriend to support you in your decision to try something new, you should let him know that you support his quest for parkour enlightenment.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that parkour isn’t dangerous, because it is, and it’s perfectly normal to worry that your boyfriend might get hurt. That being said, he is probably well aware of what could happen to him if things go wrong, and reminding him does nothing. Plus, the danger is mitigated by his understanding of his body and its limits. Like if he just decides to flip off a roof and attempt to land on the ground, chances are good that he’ll end up breaking something. But if he’s put in the necessary time and physical and mental conditioning behind that action, then it’s not nearly as dangerous and, frankly, it’s pretty flipping cool to watch (pun completely intended).

If you decide to accompany your boyfriend to a training session, it could be either indoors at a parkour gym or anywhere outside with infrastructure conducive to creative movement. It’s important to understand that training is not just about physical conditioning. While it is definitely a full-body workout, parkour is also a very social practice and your boyfriend may train with some of his friends there as well. This is not a sign that he doesn’t want to spend time with you; rather, he’s introducing you to the community and lifestyle of parkour, not just the athletic component.

“I’d love to come and train with you!”

I feel like for most people who do parkour, there is no expectation that their significant other will become as enthralled with the practice as they are, but I think the best way to try to understand someone’s love for something is to experience it with them. Plus, it’s a great relationship strengthener because you are helping each other overcome fears and strengthen physical and mental resolve.

And you have a great teacher. I am super lucky to have a parkour boyfriend who has been an instructor for several years and, while I have no plans to start precision jumping 14 feet or anything, I am proud to say that I can now front roll like a pro. As a perfectionist, I really struggled with not being able to do everything exactly how I wanted, but parkour isn’t about perfection; it’s about overcoming physical and mental obstacles, and slowly I am learning to vault over my perfectionism and focus on having fun and spending time with my boyfriend doing what he loves.

So these are my top 3 reactions that I think you could have to your boyfriend telling you he practices parkour or wants to start learning. You could give one of these reactions, or all three, or come up with your own, but the main takeaway from this post is to keep your reaction positive, supportive, and partner-centred. While you likely have fears and concerns about your boyfriend practicing parkour, embrace who he is and what he loves. And who knows, you might just discover that you, too, have a passion for parkour.

Until next time, remember, “parkour teaches you to be sure of what you are able to do” (David Belle, n.d.).