The parkour world is filled with massively skilled traceurs – so much so, in fact, that it can sometimes be difficult to tell one from the other. There are hundreds, probably thousands of people out there who could be on a list of world-class traceurs. Figuring out who’s who in the parkour community used to be something you would have to do by spending massive amounts of time watching videos. Or, you could have a friend sit down and talk you through all of them.
Today, I am that friend. This is a shortlist of the world’s most skilled and influential traceurs.
The founder of parkour, David Belle, is perhaps the world’s most famous traceur. He is, quite frankly, a living legend. Even today, his huge drops are still unparalleled. His philosophy has influenced literally every practitioner of parkour in the world. Books could (and probably will) be written about him, so I won’t go into any more detail, except that there is a reason he is #1 on this list. He’s incredible.
The cofounder of parkour and founder of freerunning, Séb’s 10 minute appearance in Casino Royale probably exposed more people to parkour than any two other practitioners (with the possible exception of David Belle’s District 13 films). And again: books can and probably will be written on him.
Daniel Ilabaca is one of the most creative and recognizable traceurs on earth. He invented the wall spin and the kong gainer – when he was only 19. His speed, power, and sheer agility are absolutely world-class. The thoughts expressed in his Choose Not to Fall video perfectly encapsulate the traceur philosophy.
Ryan Doyle’s unique combination of martial arts tricking and parkour has made him one of the most fun traceurs to watch. He is the first traceur to have been permanently sponsored by a major corporation, Red Bull. The rare tutorials he makes are always interesting and well-explained. He shattered his shin doing a double cork, but once it healed he went right back to training. Inspiring.
Widely known for his upper-body power and one-armed handstands, Tim “Livewire” Shieff is the founder of Storm Freerun, as well as an extraordinary trendsetter in his own right. Those skinny pants he wears…
Britain’s 3Run is one of the oldest and most skilled parkour teams around, holding quite a few Guinness World Records among them. Former members include Ryan Doyle and Daniel Ilabaca. Current members are Chase Armitage, Cane Armitage, Cole Armitage, Mat Armitage, Sam Parham, Chloe Burce, Fabio Santos, Shaun Andrews, Mat Kaye, Adam Brashaw, Scott Young, James Stokes, Curtis Small, Michael Wilson.
Storm Freerun’s 2010 showreel, Storm Freerun Vol 1 is still one of the top parkour videos you need to see. The members of this elite team, Tim “Livewire” Shieff, Paul “Blue” Joseph, Jan Barcikowski, Franck Nelle, and Ash “Spyder” Holland are ranked up there with 3Run in overall skill. They don’t make videos often, but when they do – watch out.
The product of an idea that Jason Paul of Germany, Anan Anwar of Thailand, and Shaun Wood of Australia had, Team Farang has taken the parkour world by storm with their unique videos. So much sheer joy and love of life radiates from them. They will almost always bring a smile to your face.
Storror and their cheeky antics are something of an acquired taste, but there can be no doubt that Drew Taylor, Sacha Powell, Callum Powell, Steven Whitley, Max Cave, Benj Cave, and Toby Segar have skill.
Pip Andersen hasn’t exactly been a loud presence in the parkour world, but he’s been important. He was on MTV’s Ultimate Parkour Challenge and can often be seen hanging out in videos with many of the other traceurs on this list.
Oleg Vorslav is famous for his bar skills on the Latvian playground on which he grew up. He was one of the few people to really start doing parkour before he even knew what parkour was. His Russian Climber video was one of the first viral parkour videos ever to hit, and Out of Time kept the amazing going.
Daniel Arroyo has one of the most distinctive styles I’ve ever seen. There’s a powerful joy to his movements that makes him an absolute pleasure to watch. The fact that he’s strong enough to hold a full planche and creative enough to invent the cast bomb, one of freerunning’s most difficult moves, is just icing on the cake.
Kyle “Epic” Mendoza
Kyle Mendoza, aka Epic1, has produced some of the best parkour/freerunning/tricking tutorials on YouTube. They’re always complete and always detailed. For any beginning traceur, his channel is a must-subscribe.
Oh, and he’s an extremely flowy mover. Even when his hair is short.
The closest equivalent of 3Run America has, Apex Movement consists of Ryan Ford, Erica Madrid, Jake Smith, Justin Clark, Mason Fleet, Dylan Baker, and Amos Rendao. They’re one of my personal favorite parkour teams of all time. Many of Ryan Ford’s Demon Drills have found their way into my own training.
Thought they may be known primarily for the viral video of their incredible gym, the members of Team Tempest are still a force to be reckoned with: Brian Orosco, Dan Mast, David Elso, Gave Nunez, Levi Meeuwenberg, Luci “Steel” Romberg, Paul Darnell, Rich King, Ryan Houchin, and Shane Daniels.
Shade Zlat / Alexander Gisych
Alexander Gisych of Russia, also known as Shade Zlat, has absolutely incredible creativity on the ground, in the air, and on bars – in addition to mastery of pretty much every parkour technique ever done. He’s an awesome example of what hard, consistent training can do.
This is not by any means a truly comprehensive list. There are many, many other traceurs who could be here. To name just a few:
all of the original Yamakasi, L’1consolable, Line Team Traceurs, Galizian Urban Project, Tranquil Movement, Speeders, Pavel “Pasha” Petkuns, Kie Willis, Alexander Zyulev, Erik Mukhametshin, Alexander “BAIT” Baiturin, Will Sutton, Cato Aspmo, and virtually every WFPF Athlete. Listing all of them and why they’re important would require an ever-changing book. However, this list of 11 traceurs and 6 teams will definitely get you started knowing who’s who.
Is there anyone else you think should be included on this list?