Parkour is a growing sport that has grown in popularity around the world. Parkour provides an exciting way to exercise your body and mind, while becoming more confident with yourself as you progress through challenging obstacles. With its roots dating back thousands of years, this popular martial discipline is now being adopted by many different sports enthusiasts for their own personal use.

Parkour is a movement discipline that uses the environment as a tool to propel oneself from one location to another. It’s a physical activity that can be practiced by anyone, regardless of age, gender, or skill level. For beginners, it’s important to know how to do parkour properly and safely.

You’ve seen it in movies like Casino Royale and The Bourne Ultimatum, as well as on TV series like American Ninja Warrior (and not so seriously in The Office). You’ve done it, at least practically, if you’ve played Assassin’s Creed or Mirror’s Edge.

I’m referring to parkour.

 

Yeah. That sport in which you vault over barriers and leap from buildings. Even if they don’t understand parkour, many guys are intrigued to it. It’s enthralling to see someone move around an environment in ways we’d never imagined, and motivating to see the human body push the boundaries of its ability. Plus, it seems like a lot of fun, and it seems like a useful ability to have in the zombie apocalypse when you’ll need to flee a horde of savage brain-eaters (depending on your theory of their bipedal capabilities, of course).

To understand more about parkour, I went to the Tempest Freerunning Academy in Los Angeles and spoke with Brian Orosco, a parkour/freerunning teacher, stuntman, Ninja Warrior veteran, and proud owner of an amazing handlebar mustache.

What is Parkour, exactly?

 

Parkour is all about moving quickly and fluidly through your surroundings. Traceurs (from the French for ‘to trace’) are parkour practitioners who leap, climb, and vault over obstacles on their route. Their purpose is to go as quickly as possible from point A to point B.

Parkour’s history is really rather intriguing. It all began in France, with origins in military espionage and evasion methods, as well as 19th-century physical culture. In reality, the term “parkour” comes from the French phrase “parcours du combattant,” which refers to the French military’s obstacle course-based training regimen. While we now think of parkour as a fun kind of exercise, it was originally created as a tactical skill and a technique for troops to improve their fitness.

Parkour vs. Freerunning: What’s the Difference?

Parkour stop motion photo multiple steps of jump from walls.

The terms parkour and freerunning are often used interchangeably. There is a minor difference between them, despite the fact that they have a lot in common.

Parkour is essentially the art of effectively moving around your surroundings utilizing leaps, swings, and vaults. Flips, wall spins, and other acrobatics aren’t required. Efficiency is less of a concern with freerunning, and you may include these sorts of cool-looking acrobatic actions as well.

So when you see individuals flipping and spinning off walls on YouTube, that’s freerunning; if they’re simply leaping and vaulting over urban barriers without acrobatics, that’s parkour.

Why Should You Do Parkour?

Man jumping over stair rail black white photo parkour.

Parkour is a lot of fun! You treat the world around you like a gigantic playground when you parkour. It’s entertaining to come up with new methods to navigate your surroundings and, yeah, imagine you’re fleeing from ninja assassins and/or zombies. It reawakens your inner kid, who has been asleep for a long time and just wants to run about, explore without boundaries, and play.

 

Parkour is an excellent kind of workout. Running, leaping, climbing, and swinging are some of the activities available. Parkour is a full-body exercise that improves body awareness and coordination at the same time.

Parkour is a difficult sport. You’ll have to challenge yourself both physically and psychologically when doing parkour. You may not be able to accomplish some movements at first, but with practice, you’ll develop the strength and coordination required to master them. You’ll meet challenges you don’t believe you can overcome, but if you dig deep enough inside yourself, you’ll discover that you can push your body past its perceived limits. For a challenge, parkour may help awaken the primordial switch of manliness inside all of us. You’ll acquire confidence in yourself as you conquer these obstacles, which will transfer over into other areas of your life.

Parkour young men scaling walls.

The Daily Texan is the source of this information.

Parkour is a fantastic way to meet new people. Parkour is a sport that brings people together. It’s usually done in groups, and the parkour community is quite kind and encouraging. It is not a competitive sport; rather, the purpose is to have fun while helping each other better.

Parkour has the potential to save your life. We believe that every individual should be capable of saving his own life in the event that the need arises. Parkour provides you with the necessary abilities and physical training to do this. We make jokes about zombies and needing to flee and avoid in a city, but what if the day comes when being able to sprint, leap, and climb over barriers is essential to your survival? Would you be capable of completing the task? Parkour may be beneficial. It’s especially useful when you have to leap from one rooftop to the next.

Parkour encourages you to be more inventive. Parkour demands you to think imaginatively about your surroundings. You interact and navigate around the environment the way you desire, not the way some architect or city planner wants you to. Stairs? We don’t need any dreadful stairwells! You want me to cross this little pedestrian bridge, right? I’ll just leap over this chasm and swing under this rail. Every obstacle, such as a fence, a wall, or a gap, provides a chance to try something new. This kind of fun and inventiveness may spill over into other aspects of your life, allowing you to come up with innovative solutions to challenges at work or in your relationships.

What Is Parkour and How Do I Get Started?

African american black man jumping over pommel horse parkour.

Look for a parkour group. Finding a local parkour organization and attending a parkour jam is the best method to get started in parkour. The people in the sport’s community are really nice and helpful. You’ll receive tips from others who have done it before, and you’ll have someone to spot you on especially difficult maneuvers. And, of course, you’ll have someone to transport you to the hospital if you suffer a terrible fall. Parkour meet-ups may be found on Meetup.com and the Parkour in the United States forums in most major cities.

 

If you’re fortunate enough to have one in your region, joining a parkour gym like the Tempest Freerunning Academy is another wonderful way to get started. These sorts of gyms are very new, and there aren’t many of them now, but as the sport grows in popularity, more will inevitably spring up in the coming years.

Take precautions. Don’t take any risks that aren’t absolutely essential. The idea is to have fun while pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone without injuring yourself. “How can I accomplish this without damaging myself?” should be your first query before making any action. Make sure you train with a group or a partner so that they can recognize you while you’re doing difficult maneuvers and ask for assistance if necessary. Check the area for any possible risks, such as broken glass and the like, before beginning any training session. In a nutshell, don’t be a moron.

Take it easy. Recognize your limitations. You don’t have to perform insane flips and aerials from enormous buildings just because your friends are. Don’t attempt to take on too much at once. It will take some time for your body to adjust to parkour’s physical demands. Do not go to more difficult movements until you have mastered the fundamentals. On a similar point, don’t be so confident in your ability that you don’t take every action seriously. Pride comes before a fall, and in parkour, a fall may be quite painful.

Private property should be respected. Parkour should be done in public areas such as parks and municipal plazas. Avoid periods when there is a lot of foot traffic. If you’re asked to leave, kindly respond, “Sure thing!” If the cops come up to you, be polite, explain what you’re doing, and move it someplace else if they ask. Parkour is a very new and unknown sport in the United States. Anything you can do to give it a positive reputation will help it gain acceptance.

Parkour Fundamentals

Balancing

In parkour, the ability to balance is crucial. You’ll be walking and leaping on tiny surfaces like railings and wall edges rather often. To avoid falling to the ground, you must acquire the requisite muscular power and coordination. By standing and walking on rails, you may practice balance. If you want to enhance your balance, try slacklining.

Running

You must run in order to effectively dodge zombies or other hostile pursuers in an urban setting. Parkour running demands both rapid sprinting and endurance. Parkour training on a daily basis can assist prepare you for the running necessary, but 5K runs and windsprints may also speed things up.

Dropping and Jumping

A boy jumping over gaps and obstacles.

Parkour relies heavily on jumping. Use leaps to move over gaps and over obstacles, as well as to overcome height inequalities.

Jumping with finesse

 

Precision leaps enable you to land on tiny places, such as a stepping stone in the midst of a body of water or a small surface on top of a wall. Precision jumping requires focus, balance, and an understanding of your limits.

 

Tic-Tac

 

Tic-tacs are a cross between a wall climb and a leap. You can go to heights that are higher than you could with a leap with this approach. Tic-tacs have undoubtedly been seen in martial arts films or on American Ninja Warrior. It’s when a person sprints at an angle towards a wall, plants one foot on the wall, and then pushes off with the other foot to leap to a higher level. Tic-tacs are often used in conjunction with other exercises.

Drop

A drop is an active transition from one level to another. Avoid falling from anything higher than head-level while you’re just learning parkour. You must master landing (see below) and train your body to withstand the trauma of falling from great heights.

Landing

For parkour and freerunning, knowing how to land safely and effectively after leaping or descending is crucial. It’s only by landing properly that you’ll be able to get up and go on to the next challenge, and, more crucially, avoid a trip to the emergency room.

A number of things will influence how you land, including: 1) the height you’re landing from, 2) the distance of your leap, 3) your landing surface, and 4) your last move.

Landing on two feet

Two-foot landings are more successful in reducing the amount of stress your body endures when landing than one-foot landings. So, wherever possible, attempt landing on two feet. Your initial point of contact with the ground should be on the balls of your feet, shoulder-width apart, knees over the tips of your toes as you land.

It’s important to land as lightly as possible. Bend your knees when you land to ensure a gentle landing — just make sure they don’t bend more than 90 degrees. Allow your body to descend towards your knees and lay your hands on the ground if you’re leaping or falling from a very high height or landing with a lot of forward momentum. This will allow your arms to assist absorb some of the shock. With your hands on the ground, you’ll be able to leap up and sprint to the next hurdle. This style of landing requires practice, so start with lesser drops and work your way up.

Rolling

 

If you want to prevent injuries, you’ll need to know how to roll. Rolling after landing distributes the power of contact across a larger area of your body, lowering your risk of damage. If you’re falling from tremendous heights or leaping horizontally with considerable forward speed, you’ll usually want to descend to a roll after landing. A roll, when done properly, will enable you to land and pop straight back up without leaving a mark on your body.

You want to move from one shoulder to the other hip by rolling on your shoulder diagonally across your back. As you enter the roll, tuck your head beneath your armpit. Concentrate on rolling yourself into a ball and rounding your body. Keep your tuck as your weight brings you through the roll, and as you rise to your feet, keep your knees bent and your weight low.

 

Vaulting

 

You’ll come across barriers that are too high to leap over while jogging. Vaulting is a sport that allows you to do just that. When you vault an item, you put your hands on it to help you clear it. Depending on the hurdle you’re seeking to overcome and your particular preferences, you may employ a variety of vaults. Tempest Freerunning Academy’s Brian Orosco demonstrated five popular vaults used in parkour and freerunning. They’re seen in the video above. I’ve also included links to parkour sites with step-by-step pictorial instructions for the vaults.

  • Vault with steps (for safety). The simplest vault is the step vault, which sets the groundwork for the others. It’s usually done while carefully approaching an obstacle.
  • Vaulting at a high rate. The speed vault is done while running at full speed, as the name implies.
  • Vault of the Slave. When approaching a barrier at an angle, this is a decent vault to employ. When you were a youngster, you probably did this sort of vault without even realizing it. A speed vault is when your body travels sideways over an obstacle without your feet contacting it and with just one hand placed on the obstacle.
  • Kong Vault is a vault created by Kong. Kong vaults will make you appear like Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, leaping over police vehicles. This is a more sophisticated vaulting style. Do not attempt this unless you have prior parkour expertise.
  • Vault Dash The dash vault is similar to the Kong vault, except instead of leaping head first, you jump feet first.

Climbing

Stairs are for knuckleheads. To reach to a higher level, it’s often simply more efficient to take a straight path. Climbing comes into play here. When you initially begin parkour, take it easy on the climbs. Because you won’t be wearing any safety belts, a fall from a very high altitude may land you in the hospital or six feet underground. When climbing in parkour, the general guideline is “don’t climb higher than you can leap down.” There are numerous more climbing tactics to be aware of apart from basic “ladder” type climbing.

Wall run

A young boy climbing over a wall.

Steven Erdmanczyk is the author of this article.

Wall runs enable you to accelerate your ascent of a really high wall. The wall run is a surprisingly difficult maneuver to master. It’s a popular obstacle on American Ninja Warrior, but it’s one that many contestants struggle with. A wall run requires you to sprint, leap, climb, and hang in one seamless motion – not as simple as it seems.

Cat leap

A boy performing cat leap.

JB London is the source of this information.

The cat leap is a jump and a climb all rolled into one. When you need to cross a distance but the landing point is too high for you to land on your feet, you’ll do the cat jump and hang from your hands on the other side. Pull yourself to safety by pulling your knees toward your chest and forcing your toes against the side of the building after you’re hanging from the edge of the building or wall. At the same moment, push your legs up by your toes and lift your body up by your wrists. Push hard with your legs; they’ll be considerably stronger and more powerful than your arms. Move your hands so that your palms are flat on the ledge’s surface, straighten out your arms, and push your body up until your shoulders clear the top of the ledge. Lean forward so that your center of gravity is on the safe side, so that if you lose your balance, you won’t fall.

 

Swinging

Swinging from a bar or tree is a common parkour move. When there’s a gap between a rail and the ground, traceurs often employ swings to go around an impediment.

You can go a little fancier with the spiral underbar swing, in addition to the classic underbar swing. Essentially, you grab the bar in such a manner that you spin as you swing beneath it. That’s quite great.

Resources for Parkour

  • Find Out More About Parkour They’ve got a fantastic YouTube channel. Some of the best “parkour how-to” videos available.
  • The Parkour & Freerunning Book is a comprehensive guide on parkour and freerunning. (This is a really valuable book.) All of the maneuvers are shown in step-by-step pictorial tutorials. Has a nice part about parkour’s history.)
  • American Parkour

Brian Orosco, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and show us around the vaults. Make sure to see his stunt video. It’s a bit of a shambles. I definitely suggest paying a visit to the Tempest Freerunning Academy if you’re ever in the Los Angeles area.

Additional Reading

  • How to Live Like an Ancient Greek Hero (Podcast)
  • How to Get From One Rooftop to Another
  • A Quick Overview of MovNat

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I teach myself parkour?

A: There are a few methods, including jumping over objects and running across surfaces.

How can a beginner start parkour?

A: To start parkour, you should learn the basic tumbling. With tumbling, you are learning how to do flips and turns on your feet while falling down or jumping up into the air. Once you feel comfortable with that, then we can move onto jumps and rolls. Keep practicing these moves for a couple weeks before moving on to more advanced stick skills like wall-jumps and spinning kicks.

How do kids get good at parkour?

A: Parkour is a difficult sport to get good at, but it can be done. One must undergo training and practice diligently in order to become really good.

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