Inspiration for parkour came from many sources, the foremost being the 'Natural Method of Physical Culture' developed by Georges Hébert in the early twentieth century. French soldiers in Vietnam were inspired by Hébert's work and created what is now known parcours du combattant. David Belle was introduced to the obstacle course training as well as Hébert's methode naturelle by his father, Raymond Belle, a French soldier who practiced the two disciplines. David Belle had participated in activities such as martial arts and gymnastics, and sought to apply his athletic prowess in a manner that would have practical use in life.
After moving to Lisses, David Belle continued his journey with others. "From then on we developed," says Sébastien Foucan in Jump London, "And really the whole town was there for us; there for parkour. You just have to look, you just have to think, like children." This, as he describes, is "the vision of parkour."
Over the years as dedicated practitioners improved their skills, their moves continued to grow in magnitude, so that building-to-building jumps and drops of over a story became common in media portrayals, often leaving people with a slanted view on the nature of parkour. In fact, ground-based movement is much more common than anything involving rooftops.
The journey of parkour from the Parisian suburbs to its current status as a widely practiced activity outside of France created splits among the originators. The founders of parkour started out in a group named the Yamakasi, but later separated due to disagreements over what David Belle referred to as "prostitution of the art," the production of a feature film starring the Yamakasi in 2001. Sébastien Foucan, David Belle, were amongst those who split at this point. The name 'Yamakasi' is taken from Lingala, a language spoken in the Congo, and means strong spirit, strong body, strong man.
"I want to live and share what I have learned, not just write it in a book that will make it a dead activity and we don't want the sport to die".
It is as much as a part of truly learning the physical art as well as being able to master the movements, it gives you the ability to overcome your fears and pains and reapply this to life; as you must be able to control your mind in order to master the art of parkour.
"To understand the philosophy of parkour takes quite a while, because you have to get used to it first. While you still have to try to actually do the movements, you will not feel much about the philosophy. But when you're able to move in your own way, then you start to see how parkour changes other things in your life; and you approach problems - for example in your job -- differently, because you have been trained to overcome obstacles. This sudden realization comes at a different time to different people: some get it very early, some get it very late. You can't really say 'it takes two months to realize what parkour is'. So, now, I don't say 'I do parkour', but 'I live parkour', because its philosophy has become my life, my way to do everything."
Another philosophy's aspect is its freedom. It is often said that parkour can be practiced by anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world. This freedom has made it a powerful cultural force in Europe, with its influence spreading around the world.
Many of the philosophical practitioners such as Foucan, train using the Chinese beliefs called Taoism. Taoism is the English name referring to a variety of related Chinese philosophical and religious traditions and concepts. These traditions influenced East Asia for over two thousand years and some have spread internationally.  Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao; namely, compassion, moderation, and humility. Taoist thought focuses on wu wei ("non-action"), spontaneity, humanism, and emptiness.
Many, like Foucan, describe the ultimate goal of Parkour as finding 'the way', a phrase and idea that comes close to Taoist beliefs. Taoism involves the influences of the ancient Chinese theory of Yin and Yang in it's under standing of 'The Way'; Keller comments:
Although the Chinese word for 'Tao' may literally mean the Way, the road or path to follow, this term has come to refer to the mysterious, eternal, inexplicable underlying principle that establishes order and harmony within the universe. It is the flow within nature. It is absolute, ineffable truth and power. Tao is not an ethical principle, but is the fountainhead of all ethics and all physical forms.
These concepts of flow, harmony and 'the way' are certainly shared with Parkour. Stephane Vigroux is an experienced traceur who was involved with the early stages of the movement with David Belle. He stars in the Parkour documentary, U$F Volume 3, produced by Urban Freeflow - the largest Parkour community in the world. Vigroux's views are that when you really get into the motion of Parkour you feel alone. The focus is on you, the environment and the way.