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This article is about the French practitioners of parkour. For other use, see Yamakasi (film).

Yamakasi (Congolese Lingala, ya makási, strong or powerful in ones person) refers to the original French group of practitioners of parkour (Fr. parcours, for course of obstacles), a discipline developed from military obstacle course training aimed at efficient point to point traverse using ones body and its surroundings for propulsion, including via bipedal and quadrupedal movement, rolling, mantling, vaulting, climbing, etc., as suitable for the situation. The group of nine founding members of the Yamakasi included David Belle and Sébastien Foucan, and their philosophy was that parkour builds an individual that is physically, mentally, and ethically strong. The name has been used in popular references to parkour, including in French films about admirable lawbreakers who do their physically demanding deeds for charitable ends. Members of the original group have, through the late 2000s, continued to appear in video reports on their history and the practice.

History and participation[edit]

The activity originally termed l'art du déplacement, now also referred to as parkour (French pronunciation: ​[paʁkuʁ], Fr. parcours, from "parcours du combattant", the classic obstacle-course method of military training), and sometimes extending to freerunning, was founded in France in the 1980s by a group of nine young men who called themselves The Yamakasi.[1] The title term is taken from the Lingala language, which is spoken in the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ya makási combines the possessive ya with makási, the plural form of bokási, and can mean strong in body, spirit, or person.[2][3] [The word bokási translates from Lingala to French, as "pouvoir/puissance, vigeur, force/résistance, vitalité, energie" (power, vigor, strength, vitality, energy).[3]]

The founding members of the Yamakasi were Yann Hnautra, Chau Belle, David Belle, Laurent Piemontesi, Sébastien Foucan, Guylain N'Guba Boyeke, Charles Perriere, Malik Diouf and Williams Belle; their philosophy was that parkour builds an individual that is strong physically, mentally, and ethically.[citation needed]

References in popular culture[edit]

The characters in the 2001 French film Yamakasi became cat burglars to retrieve the money for a child's heart transplantation. In a 2004 semi-sequel, Les fils du vent,[4] the group moves to Bangkok and gets entangled in a battle between the Yakuza and the triads.

ESPN did a report on parkour in 2007 featuring Laurent Piemontesi and Châu Belle Dinh members of Yamakasi.[5]


  1. ^ *Daniels, Mark. "Generation Yamakasi", French Documentary with English subtitles, Accessed 17 March 2015
  2. ^ *Wilkinson, Alec (16 April 2007). "The Sporting Scene: No Obstacles". The New Yorker. Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Peter Van Hertum, 2015, "Entry makási," traduction (translation), dictionnaire Lingala-Français, see [1], accessed 17 March 2015.
  4. ^ "The Great Challenge (2004)". IMDB. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  5. ^ ESPN (November 11, 2007). "ESPN:60 Parkour". Archived from the original on 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 

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