David Belle (born 29 April 1973) is considered by many to be the founder of modern Parkour. Belle founded Parkour based on his training and the teachings from his father Raymond Belle. The discipline has since spread around the world and now has adherents in virtually every country. Belle is also an actor and choreographer, and he is well known for his work incorporating Parkour into films such as in District B13, Babylon A.D. and Prince of Persia.
David Belle was born and raised in Fécamp, France. He descends from a modest family in the suburbs of Paris. His grandfather Gilbert Kitten, father Raymond Belle, and brother Jeff Belle have been highly skilled rescuers in the French military fire service.
In 1984, at the age of 11, Belle moved to Lisses, France. He made close friends with a group of teenagers with a similar physical passion who began training with him. Some of the friends that trained with Belle would later become known as the Yamakasi. Later in life, Belle spent time in the military and fire brigade with aspirations of following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps. He left soon after for personal reasons in order to dedicate himself to Parkour.
He later joined the Troupes de marine in Vannes, where he received a promotion, a gymnastic agility certificate of honor, and champion records for Regimental rope-climbing (which his father had once held) and the Essonne obstacle course. He has however said that his taste and love for adventure and freedom did not go well with the regimented life of the military.
Upon completing his national service, he worked in various professions including a warehouse worker, security guard and furniture salesman. He also spent 3 months in India studying Kung Fu. After his return he continued his training in Parkour and filmed footage of his capabilities which he later turned into the famous Speed Air Man video. In 1997 the Stage 2 team (Francis Marroto, Pierre Sled and Pierre Salviac, Georges Kanellitsas) was shown a video of Belle and decided to film a news feature about Parkour.
In filming this news feature the term "Yamakasi" was used for the first time in connection with the team. Belle did not approve of the name and felt like it did not give credit to his father, so he split from the group after the feature. Later, Belle would go on to train other students who gave them the name 'Tracer.' The spelling was later adapted to 'Traceur', and his since been used to define a practitioner of Parkour.
Belle was first introduced to his acting career in a meeting with Hubert Koundé (La Haine), in order to discuss the success of Parkour on the big screen. He then began developing his acting ability with the play Pygmalion, and has since been successful in obtaining a number of roles mostly in French films and promotions.
Belle has been featured in promotional videos for Tina Turner, and Iam. He has starred in "Les gens du voyages" and "Un monde meilleur", followed by "L'Engrenages" and "Femme Fatale", as well as "Les rivières pourpres 2", starring Jean Reno. After filming several more advertisements and promotions for the BBC, Nissan, Canon, and Nike, Belle were contacted by Luc Besson (director of Nikita, and The Fifth Element) regarding co-starring as lead actor with Cyril Raffaelli in the action movie District 13, followed by the sequel District 13: Ultimatum.