Turkey's free-runners paving the way for street sports

Jumping from roof-to-roof, wall-to-wall, and throughout the urban jungle: Parkour is growing in Turkey.

For practitioners of the sport, also known as “free-running”, the environment of the city is the arena. While walking the city, anything that strikes the eye becomes part of the game. The roofs of buildings, curbs, rock formations, ladders.

After being forged by David Belle and his friends in France in the 1980s, parkour has spread across the world. In 1997, Belle and Sebastian Foucan formed a parkour group, and the sport’s growing fame earned it a film.

The key requirements for parkour include a healthy body, self-confidence, bravery, discipline, and, eventually, experience. While the risk of injury is high, performing jumps and tricks correctly considerably lessens the danger.

In Turkey, its growth over the past decade has led to parkour training centres and even contests. Acorn is the country’s first parkour and free-running group, and Arco Academy trains people in the sport indoors, with the goal of practicing in the streets.

The group’s founder, Ömer Günyaz, founded the Turkish Parkour Association in 2012, when he held a contest and championship in Turkey.

Omer Gunyaz
Omer Gunyaz

“Like everyone else, I saw parkour on television,” he said. “When we began parkour there weren’t any training centres in the world. Then, after some examples began to pop up, we said why not?”

He said he came up with the name “Acrorun” after drawing inspiration from combining acrobatics and running.

“When we founded our association, we had 1,000 registered members on our site,” he said. “Members are able to see each other on a map and get in touch. Even though our association is closed down, we did not close the website in order to allow people to still make connections.”


The associated lasted one year due to trouble continuing it.

After organising one Turkish championship, paperwork and regulations made it hard to organise another, Günyaz said. “Because of this, we had to found another team, but no one had enough time to set aside. Instead, in order to stay afloat and not spend too much energy and time, we formed the Acro Academy.”

Now, the group is floating the idea of founding a parkour park.

“There is no such park in Turkey. It’s hard to escape the idea of making one in the future, but right now it may be too early,” Günyaz said.

“The most logical step would be to ask for land and build our own park.” He said that he had grand plans for parkour in Turkey.

“Our aim is to create an Acrorun centre in every city, but this would need great investment,” he said. “In addition, in the coming years we want to be able to represent our country in foreign competitions. My most utopian dream is to one day see everyone practicing parkour.”