USAP Definitions, Rules and Guidelines
What is Parkour?
There have been many disagreements over the years about what Parkour is or isn’t, but simply put, Parkour is a training method designed to expand an individual’s vocabulary of movement, allowing a skilled practitioner to “flow” efficiently and creatively through any environment, “over, under, around or through” the obstacles in his or her path (“KNOW OBSTACLES, KNOW FREEDOM!”). Derived originally from the French martial art, “parcours du combattant” or “the path of the warrior”, modern Parkour has grown beyond the goal of simply finding the most efficient path and now embraces elements of more creative movement as well (freerunning, or Freestyle Parkour). Though there are distinctive moves that still serve as the foundation of Parkour—the kong and other vaults, tic-tac, lache, cat, precision and wall run to name a few—practitioners will also borrow elements from other disciplines such as capoeira, break dancing, martial arts tricking and acrobatics to add flair to their “runs”, defining their unique personal ”lines” from point a to point b. For teaching purposes in a gym setting, WFPF Certification and curriculum (the only Parkour certification and curriculum recognized by USAP) cover five categories of movement, floor skills, vaults, bar work, wall skills, and when available in a safe and supervised environment, trampoline to aid in the development of spatial awareness. As a student progresses, the height at which they can safely train and the combination of movements in a routine should be carefully assessed.
Is Parkour dangerous?
Two of the guiding principles of Parkour, “Etre et durer” (“To be and to endure”) and “Be strong to be useful” both discourage high-risk behaviour for its own sake. All physical activity involves some risk, but when taught and practiced properly, Parkour poses no more risks for practioners than gymnastics, football or other traditional sports. For spectators, Parkour is far LESS dangerous than a sport like skateboarding or BMX, since there is no flying apparatus to injure bystanders. That said, USA Parkour takes the risk of injury and the practice of risk mitigation very seriously. While USAP respects the tradition of Parkour as a self-taught discipline, we also hold that once someone decides to teach Parkour, especially to young children, he or she takes on an added responsibility. Because of the rigorous and highly respected teacher certification program developed by our sister company WFPF, USAP is the only Parkour organization granted the right to extend insurance coverage to our certified gyms.
What are the benefits of Parkour?
With its roots in martial arts, Parkour is most appropriately classified as a Mind/Body sport. From a developmental standpoint, Parkour offers many of the same benefits as gymnastics, e.g. coordination, balance, discipline, focus, body awareness, overall self-confidence and self-esteem. From the outset, however, Parkour adds to those benefits the very valuable practice of problem-solving, “How do I get from point A to point B safely and efficiently using my current skills and strength?” The practice of Parkour is nothing less than an ongoing physics lesson with a very practical application. Observe any Parkour athlete figuring out his or her “line” before a run, and you see a mind at work! And as a Parkour practitioner confronts the limitations of his or her current skill set, he or she is motivated to train harder to expand that skill set. Moreover, the culture and philosophy of parkour, both of which emphasize community and service to others, adds to a student’s sense of connectedness and social well-being. Parents of Parkour athletes often report of the improvements they observe in their child’s school work and overall attitude as they confront the daily challenges of life.
Can Parkour be practiced as a competitive sport?
Parkour is fundamentally an inner discipline, and so is not competitive in the way that football, baseball and basketball are at their very core. Parkour can be successfully practiced for a lifetime without ever participating in a single competition. However, as in martial arts, properly structured competitions can be beneficial to those students eager to compete to help measure and share their progress with friends and family. At USAP, we prefer the original Latin definition of the word compete, “To strive together”. Therefore, it is very important that Parkour competitions always remain collegial, with a friendly supportive atmosphere in keeping with the culture and spirit of the sport. One of the reasons so many young people are drawn to parkour is because it has brought a sense of play back to physical exercise. A high pressure, overly-competitive atmosphere runs the risk of taking the fun out of it. All USAP/WFPF sanctioned competitions have as their focus participation; it’s athlete vs. the course, rather than athlete vs. athlete. Who wins on any given day is unimportant; it’s going for your personal best with a supportive community behind you that counts. For more details about the various types of competitions sanctioned by USA Parkour along with the terms of coverage, please see the Competition Coverage section below.
Does my USAP Insurance cover activities other than Parkour, such as Ninja and Chase Tag?
As our member gyms have grown, so have their offerings. Fortunately, we have been able to secure coverage from our underwriters for many of those activities which we consider to be Parkour-related. These include Ninja, Tumbling, Aerial Silks, and most recently, Chase Tag. To ensure that we continue to manage our collective risk responsibly, on Oct. 1, 2022, in addition to our standard Level Two Parkour Certifications, USAP introduced new online Safety Certifications for both Ninja and Chase Tag, which are now required for all instructors participating in those classes.
Teaching, Judging and Safety Certifications
A robust in-person Certification program (in partnership with WFPF) has always been an important feature of USA Parkour membership, with more than 1500 instructors Certified worldwide. All USAP Member Gyms are required to have at least two (2) WFPF Level 2 or higher Certified instructors on-staff at all times, with a 1 to 10 Certified Instructor to student ratio. As your program grows, you will likely need to add more Instructors, all of whom need to be Certified. Staying in compliance with In-person Certs became a challenge for many of you during the Pandemic. As a result, we have worked with our underwriter to develop an approved online Level 1 and 2 Certification.
Starting Oct. 1, 2022, each member gym will be entitled to two Certification "credits" per term, which can be used to Certify two new instructors, or "Renew and Re-educate" two previously Certified Instructors, either of which will satisfy the basic Certification requirement. In-person Certifications will still be held on a regular basis across the U.S. and Canada, offering Level 1, 2 and 3 as well as Trampoline and other advanced Certs not currently available online. In addition, new Safety Certs will be offered online for Ninja and Chase Tag, which will be required for all Instructors participating in those disciplines, whether in a class or competition setting. Finally, low-cost online Judging Certifications will be offered and required for all those acting as judges at USA Parkour Sanctioned (i.e. "covered") competitions. To find out more about Certifications or to register for an in-person event, click this link: https://wfpf.com/online-certifications/
All instructors not covered by one of the above-mentioned Certifications and who are involved in any way in the teaching of Parkour at your club must take the online Assistant Certification. The cost for this test is $50 per individual, and may be re-taken up to 3 times for that price. To take the Assistantt Certification, click this link: http://wfpf.com/online-certifications/
Competition Requirements and Coverage
As a result of our long history of responsible risk-management, USA Parkour has been able to extend coverage to many different Parkour-related disciplines. To keep up with the added risk arising from competitions in those disciplines, as of Oct. 1, 2022, USA Parkour will be instituting the following requirements for coverage of a sanctioned event:
- Any person acting as a judge in a Parkour competition must complete the WFPF online Judging Certification and follow its guidelines
- Any person overseeing a Ninja competition as a judge, coach or official must complete the Online Ninja Safety Certification
- Any person overseeing a Chase Tag competition as a judge, coach or official must complete the Online Chase Tag Safety Certification
- All promotional materials, physical and digital must display the USA Parkour logo along with the following language: "A USA Parkour Sanctioned Event".
All "in-house" competitions (limited to previously enrolled students) will continue to be covered free of additional charge. Any competitions open to participation by the general public will require a $5 per-person fee from ALL participants to cover the additional risk exposure, payable to USA Parkour.
All USA Parkour Certified Member Gyms must display the USA Parkour logo in a prominent place on their website, at their check-in desk (poster provided by USAP) and on all promotional materials to indicate that they are a part of the USAP Family.
Does USAP recognize other Parkour teacher certifications?
Although we respect all those whose goal it is to increase awareness of the safe practice of Parkour, our insurance underwriter recognizes only WFPF Teacher Training Certification as valid for coverage.
Instructor Certifications Renewals
It is YOUR responsibility as a gym owner to make sure that Level 2 or higher Certified Instructors in your employ are current with their annual online re-education and renewal and that all Assistant Trainers have taken and passed the online Assistant Cert. All USAP gyms are required to have at least two Level 2 (or higher) WFPF Certified Instructors on staff. At least one must be present at all times during Parkour classes or open gyms. He or she may be assisted by one or more Assistant Instructors so that there is always one Instructor on hand for every ten students.
If your instructors are not up-to-date with their Certifications, your gym will not be in compliance with the terms of USA Parkour Member Insurance. To find out if your instructors are paid up, simply log in to your account, click "assign trainers" or "assign assistants". If you're entering a new instructor's name, type his or her last name and unique ID number in the space provided to see if they are current with their dues. If you already have "assigned trainers" or "assigned assistants" you will see their names listed, and will be alerted as to whether or not they are paid up.
Note: It is wise to always have a copy of all your Instructors' Certification documents on file for your records (to more easily locate their ID number), and/or displayed for the public to see.
What do I need to start my program? Do I have to buy a lot of Parkour-specific equipment?
Not at all, you can start with a trapezoid and some well-placed mats, although as your program grows, you will likely want to add additional training options. Please refer to our resource page to see the basics you will need and some ideas and suppliers to explore as time goes on. In addition, USAP staff stands ready to assist you with virtual or in-person help sessions specific to your space and budget. If you are ready to upgrade or purchase addtitional equipment, please visit www.integratedobstacles.com to view equipment packages available at any price range.
What is the definition of a Parkour-Only gym as opposed to a Multi-Use facility?
For the purposes of USAP member insurance, a Parkour-only gym is defined as one that DOES NOT offer traditional gymnastics or cheer. Insurance underwriters industry-wide have determined that the risk of liability is greater when the disciplines of Parkour and traditional gymnastics or cheer are taught side by side. Parkour-only gyms may still hold classes in other disciplines, such as yoga, capoeira or other forms of martial arts or dance, though those activities will not be covered by USAP member insurance. So called "Ninja" or "Chase Tag" training, if conducted according to USAP code of conduct, would be considered a practical application of Parkour training, and therefore would be covered. Under no circumstances does USAP member insurance cover "Cross Fit" training.
Does USAP member insurance cover “open gym”?
Yes, provided that it is a structured and well-supervised Parkour-specific (NOT Gymnastics) open skills session with competent trainers, rather than a free-for-all. (IMPORTANT: Please note trampoline guideline section below.) It is essential that any and all drop-in students not formally enrolled in your regular classes be required to attend at least one basic safety class prior to their first open gym spelling out serious consequences for those who do not observe safe practices, including permanent expulsion from your facility. These people are not only endangering themselves, but also their fellow students AND YOUR BUSINESS. Another serious potential liability arises in a multi-use (gymnastics) facility where multiple disciplines are being practiced in the space at the same time with participants going back and forth between them at will as this could result in multiple claims in case of an accident.
Does USAP insurance cover Trampoline?
USAP considers structered Trampoline training under the guidance of a Certified Instuctor to be a useful tool for developing a Parkour athlete's aerial awareness, and is covered as such. UNDER no circumstances will USAP cover Trampoline activities that could be construed as more suited to a Trampoline Park or Bounce House. For that reason, USAP does not cover trampoline competitions of any kind, and strictly forbids the use of Trampolines in an "Open Gym" setting.
Does USAP insurance cover outdoor training?
USAP member insurance does cover outdoor training under certain circumstances, approved on a case-by-case basis. Outdoor training must be consistent with USAP guidelines regarding safety, progression and supervision by WFPF certified instructors with a 1:10 instructor to student ration. On every occasion outdoor classes must be conducted on a closed, controlled, and clearly marked "course" with access strictly limited to instructors and registered students with a liability waiver on file. No additional Instructor certifications are required for classes conducted on professionally built equipment. For training on natural obstacles often found in parks or other public or private spaces, instructors are required to complete the Parkour Pro Trainer certification available at www.onlineparkourcertifications.com. If conducted under the sponsorhip of a USAP member gym, no additional insurance is required. Please contact a member of our USAP staff to ask about outdoor training approval for your club.
Why does my USAP Member Insurance always expire on Sept 30, no matter when I initiate coverage?
USA Parkour is NOT an insurance underwriter or licensed insurance broker and is NOT permitted to sell individual insurance policies. What we are is a member organization recognized by a top-rated underwriter as an authority in the safe teaching of parkour and granted the right to extend coverage UNDER OUR OWN INSURANCE POLICY to other gyms and participants that share our vision, values and philosophy of Parkour. It is for that reason that your coverage runs concurrently with our own, from October 1st to September 30th of the following year, no matter when you initiate coverage, with per student fees pro-rated depending on when in the year you were first admitted as a member. Simply put, you share in our coverage and we share in your risk; that’s why we charge a yearly per-student member fee, and that’s why USAP reserves the right to revoke membership and drop from coverage any club that violates the USAP Code of Conduct/Registration Agreement. Membership and coverage do not begin until we receive an e-signed copy of the member agreement acknowledging the aforementioned guidelines.
What is the definition of “peak enrollment”?
Peak enrollment is defined as follows:
“Premium is determined by applying the appropriate rate for your club/program to the greatest number of registered members that your club/program COULD have ANNUALLY.”
USAP expects all member gyms to use best good faith efforts to correctly estimate what their enrollment COULD be during the coming policy term. Once you have come up with that number, we suggest you add another 10% to allow for unforeseen growth. Upon renewal, you will have the opportunity to review and update your student numbers, adjusting them up or down depending on your current enrollment. Your fees for the new term will be recalculated accordingly.
If my program grows during the coverage term, am I required to report the additional student numbers in real time? Will there be an audit?
You will not need to report growth in student numbers until your Oct. 1 renewal. There will be no retroactive audits.
Is there an age limit for participant coverage?
There is no age limit for participant coverage under the USAP policy, however we do require that you estimate what percentage of your students will be over 18. This will not affect your quote.
Can I reach out to USAP for advice or questions as my program grows and develops?
Absolutely! We are a member organization and we are committed to your growth and success, so please come to us with any questions you may have on all things parkour-related and someone on our extremely knowledgeable team of advisors and athletes will be happy to help.
Student Abuse Protocols/Safe Sport Training Requirement
USA Parkour treats the issue of student abuse with the utmost seriousness, be it physical or sexual abuse, or bullying or intimidation of any kind whether from a fellow student or staff member, and we require the same zero tolerance policy from all of our member gyms. It is imperative that all gyms create a safe environment where a student or staff member feels comfortable reporting the act or suspicion of possible abuse towards themselves or others to the gym owner or on-site manager immediately. We understand that this is not always an easy task, since these can be difficult things to talk about for students and staff members alike. To assist in this process, the Safe Sport Training Program has been developed to help guard against and alert individuals to the warning signs of possible abuse occurring in their midst.
Accordingly, all USAP Gyms are required to visit the Safe Sport site (https://athletesafety.org/training/index), and complete the "Safe Sport Trained" section at the bottom of the homepage ($20.00) If you have already completed the Safe Sport Training, please be ready to provide USAP with proof of completion.
In addition, as an added precaution, all prospective employees must be interviewed in person, must submit at least two letters of reference, and must undergo recognized criminal background and abuse registry checks.
Let's work together to keep our students safe!