Parkour is fun although it has other benefits. The US Military started using it a little bit a few years ago for some training, some of the DC cops are trained in it, same as san diego PD, and I believe part of the NYPD as well.
This is from a gym in DC, the owner happens to do Parkour too:
"Yesterday 10 Law Enforcement Officers of different varieties came for a taste of Primal training. There were 4 officers from a "TAC" tactical team which is an undercover street crime force, one of whom is also on the S.W.A.T. team, one officer on REACT community centric force, and 5 patrol officers. Jesse Woody and Mark Toorock brought them through a workout that included some of the basic drills as well as some general conditioning. One was back today with another S.W.A.T officer who was instantly hooked on Primal. "
A few ways. First, you could find someone who's been doing it for a long time, is smart about it, and knows what they're doing. Not someone who just decided to do it one day and jump from 10 feet up. Someone who actually knows how to train. That's why videos are important WHEN it's a training video..like good exercises to do.
If you live in a bigger city, there are gyms that offer training sometimes, or you could look it up on google "__________ parkour", meetup.com, or americanparkour.com forums.
Also, most people who do parkour are nothing like skateboarders. Baggy pants would be extremely stupid to do while doing parkour. It would be so counter productive it's not even funny. You will know exactly the serious ones from the not so serious ones just by how they dress, honestly.
If you want to know what it's ACTUALLY all about, because unless you do it or know someone who does it, you would have no idea. This is a documentary from a section of London and explains how they started including it in gym classes and also how the crime rate went down in Westminster when more juveniles got involved in it:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvP_HfVa2Rs"]YouTube - Jump Westminster[/ame]
I can just tell you though after doing this for four years, it has payoffs in non physical activity. You start seeing everyday problems in different ways and how to approach them differently.
In any case, what if you live in a rural area, but are still interested in parkour? Could you use things like hay bales and farm equipment and stuff? I guess what I'm trying to say is that Parkour appears to be limited to urban environments, and that doesn't really seem fair. I'll bet people could really pull off some really cool moves in a hayloft or something, but if it's not recognized, then what's the point, right?
The second you see a flip or anything like that, it's not parkour because a flip is not efficient. Parkour is much more "philosophical" than free running because it deals with getting through an "obstacle" in an efficient manner and solving a problem with a positive outlook.
Free running has the same movements, but not so much conerned with efficiency. This is why some field police officers will train in parkour because it can mirror what they do if they have to chase somebody down in an urban setting (via fences, walls, etc). They don't waste their time with free running.
So yeah, huge difference.
Yes, you could use anything and it's not really limited to urban environments although that's the easiest way to do it. The thing is that parkour is vastly misunderstood by people who don't research it or anything.
Watch the video i pasted and you'll know. The real aim at parkour has NOTHING to do with showing off. It's all about bettering yourself, gaining confidence, and having a positive outlook on life. it kind of pisses me off all the videos online where people just show off.
Here's the thing. I said it's all about gong from point A to point B as efficiently as possible right? So let's say you have this:
Let's say the = is flat ground and there's a wall only 5 feet north of that path i put above. Anyone who knows what they're doing, is not going to go out of their way to jump over the wall in parkour. It's not efficient, waste of time because it's out of the way. Again, there's a reason why some cops train in parkour.