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Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Stevenson, Joan C.
Parkour is a sport that developed in France in the late 1980s that is described as "the art of movement." The objective of the participant is to choose a route of their own making, from an arbitrary Point A to Point B, and move through that route as efficiently as possible, overcoming any obstacles that are along the way. As of 2011, Parkour has become an international pastime, with practitioners, called "traceurs," participating all over the world. This thesis proposes that Parkour is a form of play, specifically locomotor play. The movements that make up this type of play are universal as to be identifiable cross-species in all primates. Several researchers are beginning to discuss an "evolutionary" or innate set of play behaviors, particularly movements seen in locomotor play. Qualitative ethnographic data was collected on traceurs and compared with previous studies of play performed on children and primates. The qualitative data indicates that Parkour fits well into the descriptions and definitions of play as discussed in previous studies. No quantitative analysis or analysis of movement has previously been performed on Parkour to analyze the behavior of traceurs and to see if it fits in with play research. Using publicly available videos, new quantitative data is introduced that demonstrates that traceurs are using the same locomotor movements seen in all other primates, and it is proposed that Parkour is a good fit with innate free-form locomotor play. Findings are discussed, as well as what other applications this research may have.
Western Washington University
Copying of this thesis in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.
Kelley, Margaret E., "Moving like a kid again : an analysis of Parkour as free-form adult play" (2011). WWU Masters Thesis Collection. 165.