parkour santa barbara

Parkour Santa Barbara: Exploring the Art of Movement

If you are looking for an activity that is challenging, rewarding, and fun, parkour could be for you. Parkour, also known as freerunning or obstacle-overcoming, is a discipline in which you use your body to overcome obstacles in an urban environment or nature.

Santa Barbara, California is a great place to learn parkour and practice it. There you will find a community of practitioners and coaches that are passionate about the art of movement. In this article we will explore the history, philosophy and techniques of parkour as well as its benefits and challenges. We’ll also introduce some of the best parks in Santa Barbara, and recommend some resources to learn and train.

History and Philosophy of Parkour

In the late 1980s to early 1990s a group young men began exploring new ways to move and interact with their environment. They called their discipline “l’art du deplacement,” or “the arts of movement,” to emphasize the aesthetic and creative aspects.

David Belle is generally regarded as the founder of parkour. He was heavily influenced both by his father’s background in military service and his own experiences living in urban and natural environments. Belle and his “Yamakasi” friends developed a set principles and techniques based on efficiency, safety and adaptability.

Today, parkour is a discipline that has spread around the world. It requires a variety of physical and mental skills, including strength, agility and balance, as well as focus and creativity. Parkour practitioners refer to themselves as “traceurs” or “traceuses,” which means “to trace” or “to follow” in French. They emphasize the importance of risk-taking and self-expression in their training.

Parkour Techniques and Skills

There are certain core skills and techniques that are essential to any parkour practitioner. These include:

  • Vaults are different ways to pass over a horizontal obstruction, such as a rail, wall, or bench. Examples include the lazy, speed, and kong vaults.
  • Precision jumps are controlled and accurate jumps, usually done on narrow surfaces or elevated surfaces. Examples include the standing jump, the stride leap, and the cat jump.
  • Wall runs: Running vertically up a surface using momentum. Examples include the tic tac, the wall spin and the wall climb.
  • Parkour rolls are a way to land and roll safely after a high-jump or a fall in order for the body to be protected and the impact to be distributed. Examples include shoulder rolls, side rolls, and backrolls.
  • Creative flow: Combining movements and techniques to create a seamless, fluid sequence that expresses the personality and style of the practitioner.

For a parkour enthusiast to master these skills and techniques, they must have a solid foundation of physical fitness. This includes strength, endurance and flexibility. In order to overcome fear and doubt, they must have a mental attitude that is characterized by perseverance, discipline and self-awareness.

Parkour: Benefits and challenges

It is not just a fun activity, it has many benefits for the body and mind. These benefits include:

  • Parkour improves physical fitness. It requires a full body workout that strengthens muscles, bones, as well as the cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular systems. It also improves coordination, balance, and proprioception.
  • Confidence and self-esteem are increased: Parkour requires the practitioner to overcome their fears, learn new techniques, and face obstacles creatively and resourcefully. This can lead you to feel a sense accomplishment and empowerment.
  • Reduced anxiety and stress: Parkour is a form meditation that requires total focus and concentration in the moment. It can also help release negative emotions, boost mood and energy.
  • Enhanced problem solving and risk assessment skills. Parkour involves assessing your environment and adapting to changes in situations. This can improve your cognitive and decision making skills.

Parkour poses some risks and challenges that should be considered. These include:

  • Parkour involves high impact movements that require proper technique and equipment in order to prevent injury. Parkour practitioners should always warm-up, wear protective gear and train with qualified coaches.
  • Legal issues: Parkour can be viewed as trespassing or vandalism by some property owners and law enforcement. Practitioners should always respect their environment and adhere to local laws and regulations.
  • Mental and emotional stress. Parkour can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially for beginners and in unfamiliar environments. Always listen to your body and your emotions and seek out support from professionals and peers if necessary.

Parkour Spots Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is an incredibly beautiful and diverse city, which offers many opportunities for exploring and learning parkour. Here are the most popular Santa Barbara parkour spots:

  • Alameda Park – This large park features a variety obstacles such as benches, trees, walls, rails and more. There is also a fountain, and a playground. Beginners can practice vaults, rolls, and jumps here, while advanced practitioners can challenge themselves by using creative flow.
  • Westmont College has a campus designed for parkour. It features many walls, stairs, and different textures. Parkour enthusiasts often organize jams and other events at this popular location. It’s a private property so please respect it and follow the rules.
  • Eagle Falls: This picturesque waterfall and pool is located in the Los Padres National Forest about 20 miles north from Santa Barbara. This is a great place for nature-inspired parkour such as rock climbing and jumping. It’s a beautiful, but also potentially dangerous, natural environment. Be prepared and stay safe.

Resources for Learning and Training Parkour

There are many resources for those who want to learn or improve their parkour skills in Santa Barbara. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Academy of Movement Santa Barbara offers workshops, classes, and open gym sessions to all levels and ages. They have certified instructors who can teach the basics and advanced parkour techniques in a supportive and safe environment.
  • SBPK (Santa Barbara Parkour), a local group of parkour enthusiasts who organizes free open jams and events in different locations. They welcome both beginners and experienced practitioners, and encourage sharing of knowledge and creative ideas.
  • There are many online resources to help you learn parkour. These include YouTube tutorials, Instagram, and online courses. Be critical and cautious of the sources and always prioritize safety over flashy moves or followers.


Parkour is an exciting and challenging discipline which allows you to connect your body with your environment and your community. Santa Barbara offers many opportunities to train and be creative, whether you are a beginner or advanced practitioner. Always remember to prioritize safety, enjoyment, and respect.

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FreeRunNation is a community-driven organization dedicated to empowering and inspiring the Parkour community through high-quality resources, gear, and educational content. We foster a culture of inclusivity and respect, where everyone is welcome to explore and express their unique style and creativity.

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