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Category: Parkour

Posted on June 8, 2008 in Parkour

roll

In my first installment on parkour, in last month's journal, I recounted a bit of the sport's background, from some of the original concepts of functional fitness that underlie it to the sport/art that was developed by teens in the suburbs outside of Paris and has recently exploded onto the world scene. That being said, any activity is only as good as its actual practice.

Talking about parkour is in no way correlative to actually doing it. The same applies to CrossFit in general; rarely will someone garner an accurate view of the program purely through conversation or contemplation rather than action. So let's get right to the nitty-gritty.

Parkour, first and foremost, is dependent on two things: the environment, which dictates the possibilities for effective movement, and your current level of ability or comfort within that environment. In much the same way that CrossFit scales and modifies techniques from gymnastics and Olympic lifting for new trainees, parkour can be scaled and modified to benefit most any willing population. And the result of an untrained individual getting in over their head in parkour is similar to that of putting a newbie upside-down on a set of rings or in a full overhead squat under a bodyweight load on a bar. (Let's just say that natural selection can be a beautiful thing.)


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Posted on July 5, 2007 in Parkour

pkvault

Parkour is about movement with a mindset of efficiency, pure and simple. The fact is, this mindset is developed through action, through experience of the movements. It is much the same for martial arts: many of the benefits come from an eventual understanding gained through practice, but there is no practice without learning the basic moves first. That being said, it’s time to combine the ideas behind Parkour (CrossFit Journal issue 43) and the safety precautions (issue 44) with a solid foundation in the fundamental movements. We’ll start with the basic two-handed vault, which is the foundation of most vaulting, and then move to the speed vault and lazy vault, two functional techniques for overcoming a variety of obstacles.

First things first, since it can’t be overstated: start off every training session by ensuring the safety of the objects and environments you plan to incorporate. Make a habit of having a good warm-up, starting with basic calisthenics and moving to more dynamic movement (for a great treatise on a proper warm-up, see CFJ issue 11).

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Posted on May 28, 2007 in Parkour

underbar

With these last two moves, my series of articles on parkour basics is in its final stretch. From this point out, I will focus on showing some manageable progressions for scaling these movements for the general population and showing how to incorporate many of these principles in your everyday training. While I’ve tried to group the previous movements into some semblance of order by similarity, these last two features are the leftovers, differing from each other in all but the fact that they are performed by the same human body. That being said, they can be two of the most fun and useful movements that you can learn. So without further ado, I present to you the underbar and gate vault.

Underbar

The underbar is quite simply an extension of a simple swing. Where this movement differs from the general swing that you might perform on a high bar is the fact that you will use your core strength and the speed of your approach to focus this swinging movement horizontally through a restricted area. This can be useful in situations such as quickly navigating the space between two railings or when you take to moving through the trees, monkey style.

This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.

Posted on May 28, 2007 in Parkour

parkour

Parkour is quite simply the art of navigating any environment quickly, confidently, and effectively with only the capabilities of your body to aid you. It's easy to see that how well it matches the CrossFit tenets of function, intensity, and variance, but it may seem surprising that it can also be universally scalable and beneficial. The concepts of environmental awareness and adaptation are of infinite usefulness to every person. Whether you are a senior trying to recover from a random fall or a soldier escaping an ambush in an urban environment, Parkour techniques can be applied to a variety of situations.

By enhancing an awareness of your surroundings and building your confidence to overcome the obstacles throughout, you are given the key to a freedom that the untrained individual might never realize. To top it off, it's just plain fun! It requires nothing more than a good pair of shoes and an awareness of a safe and steady progression, so you will rarely be limited by lack of equipment. Instead, you will be able to apply the state of elite fitness we all strive for to any path of your choosing.

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Posted on March 18, 2007 in Parkour

jumping.jpg
My last two articles dealt with the basics of vaulting technique; now it is time to take the body awareness gained from vaulting practice and apply it to developing jumping power, accuracy, coordination, and, above all, balance. Jumps are essential to parkour, as well as everyday life, because they are often the fastest, most efficient way to get from one point to another, especially when moving between surfaces or objects that are on different levels. The basic two-footed jump and landing are foundational skills that lead to many other techniques, so learning to do them correctly is extremely important to the progression of parkour training.

There is no standardized way to jump. The movement itself is so inherently human and natural that it’s ludicrous to assume that there is necessarily a right or wrong way to do it. Nonetheless, there are definitely a few points that will make jumping more efficient while assuring a good base for learning parkour movements that take the jump and expand it through more varied situations.


This entire article is available in the CrossFit Store.


Posted on February 10, 2007 in Parkour

tictac.jpg

Parkour is inherently vertical. For most of the rest of the population, the only vertical movement involves elevators or stairs, but for the traceur, every vertical surface is an opportunity to choose a different path. There are numerous techniques for scaling the vertical objects that lie throughout the urban environment (and innumerable techniques for surmounting those found in nature). Learning the basics of the tic-tac and wall run will give you a good understanding of the transference of momentum from the horizontal plane up and over the various vertical obstacles you may encounter.

The tic-tac is the foundation of these vertical movements, being a quick and efficient method for applying the momentum from your run along the ground to any number of objects that may aid in your ascent. In its most basic form, a tic-tac is nothing more than making your last step before take-off a boost off an object that gives you extra height and/or distance to make your next move faster or more efficient. You can use anything from small walls to benches or stumps. You should attempt to create a seamless transition between your approach run, your first step onto the object, and your final leap from it. Practicing this basic idea on a small retaining wall is a great way to learn the movement pattern of the tic-tac, as you can dial in running speed and coordination by creating a cadence that you follow for each successive step, ending in a powerful boost from the top of the wall into the air. From there it’s a matter of focusing on your landing and retreat as you continue on your way.

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Posted on November 7, 2006 in Parkour

jesse.jpg

Mechanics, consistency, and intensity are the three pieces of a complete foundation for a safe learning progression in any new endeavor. Many of the elements inherent in the gradual and progressive creation of elite general physical preparedness apply equally to the pursuit of more specific skills and goals, including parkour, the ability to navigate your environment functionally, confidently, and safely in a variety of situations.

This month, I have collected into a single reference document the fundamental parkour moves I discussed in greater detail throughout the past eight issues.

I intend this to serve as a kind of “getting started” reference manual for parkour, outlining a progression for learning proper technique that enhances both the safety and the efficacy of the movements when applied to the varied challenges you may face.


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