Different types of formats
As it is a very young sport, the competition system is still in its infancy. The rules and juries vary slightly from country to country, which is no problem at all, as the freedom of the sport is not compromised. Parkour is a very diverse and varied sport, so it is not easy to compare results. Just think how difficult it is to determine which is harder, a double side somersault or a six-metre jump with a pipe. It’s pretty much impossible to determine which is better, and it’s not really possible to say, because one is better for some and one is better for others. Taking these into account, a number of competition systems have evolved, which in many cases are held consecutively in the same championship.
As mentioned above, parkour is a very free sport, where the individual can choose what and how they want to do in an essentially irregular way. But of course, as in all forms of competition, there are rules in parkour, because without rules there can be no competition, but these rules tend to favour freedom of movement.
The first event that is perhaps the most objectively measurable is the “Speed Run”. The point of this event is, as the name suggests, to complete a given course as fast as possible. There is a start where the race starts and a finish where the race ends. Sometimes the start and the finish are the same point so you have to do one lap. The execution of this race may vary from country to country or from race to race. Sometimes runners start individually and are timed as individuals, so it is clear who will go through to the semi-finals, finals or who will win the race. There are also races where two runners compete at the same time and both their times are measured. In this variation, there are several options, either the rider with the better result in each race always goes through or, as in the individual race, only the time counts, in which case it only increases the spectators’ enthusiasm to see two of them racing side by side, because the difference in pace is clearly visible. The rule in these types of races is no more than to get from the start to the finish in the shortest possible time without leaving the designated course. How you overcome the obstacles is entirely up to you. Interestingly, although the race is started with a starting pistol, as in athletics sprints, the time is not counted from the moment the pistol is fired. After the first metre or so there is a time gate, through which the runner starts the stopwatch and crosses the pair of time gates at the finish, thus setting the time. So if someone starts and finishes earlier than the other runner, it does not necessarily mean that they will get a better result.
The other very well-known event is Freestyle. The essence of this competition is that on the given track the competitor performs the tricks, jumps, combinations and moves he wants to perform and usually has a maximum of 90 seconds to do so, but it is very rare that someone uses this amount of time to the full. A “race” is judged by 4-5 judges. Each judge will observe and score on one of the following aspects: variety(/creativity), difficulty, flow, execution(/safety), and the total score given by the jury president (but this aspect is not reflected in the scoring of all races). This competition system is similar in many ways to the gymnastics competition system, where scoring is also quite subjective. Of course, in both sports there are clearly easier and harder elements, but there are also elements that are very difficult to classify in terms of difficulty. The most famous parkour freestyle competition is the Red Bull Art of Motion, which has been held every year since 2007. In this competition, in addition to the overall result, a Best Trick prize is awarded to the person who performs the most difficult trick during the whole competition (usually a trick that has never been done before). Entries for these competitions are usually made by video, so anyone who wants to enter makes a short video (about 90 seconds) of themselves and sends it to the organising committee, who, if they think the entrant’s skills are good enough, will invite them to the competition.
Just a very brief description of this competition. It’s a competition system where there are many small “challenges” and the first one to complete all of them without fail wins. Each country has a slightly different set of rules for its own skill challenge.
World Chase Tag
This is the last important competition. For the time being, it is mainly organised by the British, and is basically a game of catch played on a constructed parkour track.