Photos

Parkour springs up amid ruins and conflict

A group of young Palestinians have been garnering international attention for running, flipping and rolling through the ruins of Gaza City. The sport, which emerged on the streets of France in the 1990s, has found roots in conflict zones throughout the Middle East.

No gym, no ball, no pads ... no problem: Street sport parkour pits you against your surroundings

The sport of parkour, also known as free running, is popular with a group of young men in Gaza who have been using the war-torn city as a training ground due to lack of suitable indoor space. Here a man demonstrates a 'flagpole' manoeuvre on Jan. 15, 2016. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

A group of young Palestinians have been garnering international attention through pictures and videos posted to their Facebook page, showing free runners — known as traceurs — running, flipping and rolling through the ruins of Gaza City. 

The group, known as Gaza Parkour and Free Running, is not the only one practising the sport of parkour, which originated on the streets of Calais, France, and has found roots in places where poverty and war have put conventional sports out of reach.

Young Afghans practise parkour in the ruins of Darul Aman Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.  

Darul Aman Palace was damaged in the failed Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, leaving behind ruins after heavy shelling by warring mujahedeen factions in the early 1990s. This is a group practising in May 2015. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty)

The Gaza parkour club says it can't compete abroad because a blockade prevents them from travelling.

A group of young Palestinians take to the air in front of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock in the Old City in April 2015. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

A group of Iranian women have discovered parkour as an outlet for evading social constraints and dealing with stress. 

Iranian women practice parkour in Tehran's Tavalod Park in March 2014. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty)

Parkour has sprung up in war-torn Iraq …

Iraqi men practise parkour in the central city of Najaf in May 2014. (Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty)

and in post-Gadhafi Libya, too.

Young Libyans flip out in Tripoli in March 2014. (Ismail Zitouny/Reuters)

Egypt has used parkour to promote its faltering tourism industry.

Egypt, suffering from a loss of tourism in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011, has used public parkour demonstrations as a way to boost its image. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)
 

Feats of strength are still performed on the beaches of Donetsk.

Amid the strife in eastern Ukraine, parkour has emerged as a form of exercise on the beaches of Mariupol, where these two men were photographed in May. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty)

Parkour has gone mainstream. 

Energy drink maker Red Bull promotes parkour 'jams' like this one in Santorini, Greece, in 2014. (Samo Vidic/Getty)
Fashion designer Alexander Wang incorporated parkour into the live launch of a clothing line with H&M in New York City in 2014. (Randy Brooke/Getty)

Meanwhile, two teens on Manitoba's Pukatawagan First Nation practise parkour in –30 C.

Justin Bighetty and Anthony Francois, both 18, taught themselves how to do parkour using YouTube, and now one of their videos is racking up views on Facebook. (More than 36,000 at the time of publication.)