"Does anybody know if there's any laws on Parkour in Southern California? Are there any rules or limitations?"
~Joe Mengel

There are no laws pertaining specifically to parkour, there are only those laws that apply to the general public. Generally if you are courteous, respectful and follow common sense then you should be okay. Many people respect parkour and are nice people and will leave you alone if you respect them and follow their advisements.

Respect is sometimes overlooked when traceurs consider training, but it is immensely essential. If we don’t respect the locals and property owners (the majority of any traceur’s training occurs on other people’s property) then they will not see any reason to respect us back. There have been cases where locals have opted to demolish architecture and certain areas because they drew traceurs to the area who did not respect any of the locals or the other architecture (leaving scuff marks on walls, mocking locals who ask them to leave et cetera). We have to respect that our training can only happen if we receive reciprocating respect.

Expanding on the statement “the majority of any traceur’s training occurs on other people’s property” with regards to the original question, it isn’t too difficult to guess what the main law broken by traceur is: trespassing. It can be difficult to recognize and avoid trespassing but it is very commonly broken, knowledgeably or elsewise. The key things to keep in mind when confronted on the grounds of trespassing are: respect the person confronting you and don’t mock them or do any of the other stupid things that build negative stereotyping; state the truth and try to get them to understand the nature of your training and that you meant no harm; apologize profusely and if you tell them that it won’t happen again, ensure that it doesn’t. Obviously if the individual is eager to prosecute you then they will do so, and it can be scary but just keep in mind those previous three things and you should do alright (unless you have said it enough times to lose credibility).

A personal example comes from a session less than a week ago when I was teaching a new traceur some basics at a local hotspot. The hotspot happened to be a school and when I went to teach some progression on a cat grab I chose a playground, using the side of the structure in order to vary jump height and distance. School is less than a week away and teachers and school administration are often at the schools preparing for the first week. During our training the school principal came outside and asked us politely to leave noting that the structure was meant for children. I apologized profusely stating my ignorance for not recognizing the potential damage to the structure that could of come from our training. After explaining a little bit about parkour I asked if it was alright if we trained in a different area of the school that was composed of walls, different levels and railings; the principal said we could provided that it wasn’t during school hours or when children were there.

Common sense and respect will almost always keep you out of trouble during your training. If you're doing something that would be illegal no matter the addition of parkour, then stop. People will generally be nice and ask you to leave if they see any conflict with law (be it trespassing or liability issues); and if you are polite in response, you shouldn't have any problems and they won't see any need to contact higher authorities.

Play it smart, play it safe, and have fun.

10 comments and questions

  1. Ryan Farnham // 26/1/12 03:43  

    Once I start doing Parkour (need to loose some weight first) I will carry a waiver on me ready to be signed and photo copied so that if it comes down to liability I will take care of my own injuries and I will respect property and if in the event I break property (unlikely) I'll cover the cost, that way they know they are covered.

  2. Matt Dykes // 9/9/12 00:46  

    great idea I should do that

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