Parkour originally started is a military training method in which participants move over obstacles in order to transition from point A to point B in the most efficient, shortest way possible. However, while this started as a military exercise, it has since spread to the general public, and now it is possible for individuals outside of military training to partake in this form of movement. There is a very specific parkour philosophy in which to follow, most of which is based on the history of the movement. With that being said, anyone who looks to partake in parkour can do so on their own, through the understanding of the philosophy.
In general, in order to move from point A to point B in the most efficient method possible, individuals are only able to use their bodies, minimal specialized gear (ultimateparkourgear.com, ultimateparkourgear.com/best-parkour-gloves/), and the surrounding area in order to create the movement. In order to do this, it is necessary to maintain as much possible momentum. Parkour came about in France in the 1980s, although it has spread to other regions as well since then. The practice has increased dramatically over the past several decades through the help of advertisements and documentaries that showcase parkour.
The basic philosophy of parkour stems back far before the 1980s, when the actual practice came about. During the First World War, a French naval officer created a form of training based on tribes he had encounter in Africa. While studying their movements in Africa, he noted they had extremely flexible, skillful and nimble bodies, but had no actual training in weights and gymnastics, but instead only used the natural environment around them. He used this notion in order to train French soldiers as early on as 1902. In order to do this, he created an obstacle course that requires individuals to showcase general movement through running, jumping, self-defense and swimming. By the time the Second World War came about, the movement had expanded, and this continued to grow by the 1970s, when David Belle, the son of a French soldier who learned about the training in the military, started to experiment with this training method through gymnastics.
Through his understandings from his father and his own training, he created the general philosophy of parkour. He wanted the participant of the training to become one with their natural environment. Parkour is not just about the movement of the body in the environment, but the ability to take into account the natural surroundings and visualize how the movement is able to interact with the area in regards to the final destination. All movements must have a meaning in parkour and it is not just about jumping from one location to another. In order to make it the most effective method for traveling from point A to point B, every movement must be concise and have a purpose. If not, the movements are pointless and do not coincide with what parkour actually is and how it came about through its evolved history.