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Keep It Up

Many people tire and burn out from training parkour. I get it – it can be grueling work. Hands get rough, shins get splints, shoes cost money. It’s not easy.

But then you preform that beautiful Kong vault. As you fly through the air, you feel the wind gliding around your face. You raise your hands and throw your legs behind you and for a brief moment you are no longer in control of your movement. But it doesn’t cause you to fear. You’ve done it a hundred times. You know you can trust your body and instincts.

Then the scrapes and sore muscles and blood stains become worth it as you’re reminded all over again why you love to train.

Keep it up.

The Beginner’s Handbook to Parkour and Freerunning

Simply put, there aren’t a whole lot of high quality products out there about parkour and freerunning. There are several ebook and gimmicky socks and shoes. But for the most part, they tend to be low quality.

parkour handbookI want to introduce you to “The Beginner’s Handbook to Parkour and Freerunning“! It’s an Amazon Kindle book I wrote that aims to be a solid resource for beginners looking to get into parkour and freerunning. Check out the blurb:

Want to learn parkour and freerunning? It’s not difficult, but can be daunting when sifting through dozens of pages on Google. The Beginner’s Handbook to Parkour and Freerunning fixes that problem, with a complete get-started guide in just a few pages!

Here are some of the things included in this handbook:
1. Explanations of parkour and freerunning
2. How to train
3. Movement guides to 15 parkour and freerunning moves
4. How to find locations to train
5. Guide to Gear and Clothing
6. Training with other people
7. Games to play while training
8. How to handle authority
9. Safety tips
10. Lots more!

The Beginner’s Handbook to Parkour and Freerunning is all you need to go from noob to trainer. With a little well-organised knowledge, you’ll be jumping walls in time!  Everything you need to know in order to begin your journey as a parkour practitioner is held within this book’s pages. So what are you waiting for? Check it out!

So what are you waiting for? Go check out my $2.99 beginner’s handbook =]

Parkour Philosophy

Before starting parkour I was just a small, skinny kid with no athletic ability. I was never great at sports or impressing girls with my twig arms, but I decided to give parkour a shot anyways because I wanted to look cool. Little did I know that parkour and its philosophy would impact me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

 

The Theory of Application

The fist aspect of parkour’s beautiful philosophy we’ll cover is the Theory of Application. Sounds all fancy-pants, but it’s really quite simple. Let’s separate this theory into three elements: utility, environmental reclamation, and human reclamation.

parkour philosophyThe aspect of utility is the one that is most obvious and quickly understood. Learning parkour is applicable in many situations.

If your house is on fire and you need to escape, if you must reach a certain place very quickly, or even you’re being chased by a malicious person, learning the movements associated with parkour can be very beneficial in all of those circumstances.

I personally find the next two elements of the Theory of Application more significant.

When you think of environmental reclemation, you probably have picking up trash and restoring landscapes in mind. Nope, that’s not it. Environmental reclemation is the act of taking back what is around us from those who would say that some things only serve one purpose.

Why should hand rails only be used for balance while walking? Who says that benches are for sitting only? Walls generally keep things in and out, but why shouldn’t I be able to climb them?

We walk around rich architecture and planned gardens not giving a single thought as to how we could move around them. Instead we follow rules and regulations placed on us by society to follow the status quo and not make things awkward.

Environmental reclemation is about about making the environment serve the traceur, not the traceur serve the environment.

parkour philosophy

The final element, human recelamation, is my favorite part of the Theory of Application. We reclaim ourselves. Once again, society and history tell us that our bodies can only move in certain ways, that we must fit in to the common method of doing things. The idea of human reclemation rejects those boxes that limit and label us.

Why should we be forced to walk when everyone else is walking? Who says our bodies don’t have the freedom to climb walls instead of use the stairs? Feet usually take us places, but what if I want to walk on my hands?

Our bodies are incredible and can be used in so many beautiful ways, but instead we submit to so many limitations that are simply meaningless creations of culture.

Human reclimation is about making the body serve the traceur, not the social norms.

 

The Theory of Practice

The second aspect of parkour’s rich philosophy is the Theory of Practice. This theory simply asks several questions:

  • Is parkour an art?
  • Is parkour a discipline?
  • Is parkour a sport?
  • Is parkour competitive?

The answers to the first two have been considered since the creation of parkour and have been given solid answers by the global community. Yes, parkour is an art. Yes, parkour is a discipline. But the next two questions are currently very controversial.

parkour philosophy challengeIt’s 2013 and parkour and freerunning are in another stage of transition. The world is beginning to see that these two arts and disciplines are able to be fashioned as competitions.

There have been three main competitions that have paved the way for parkour to become a full-fledged sport: The Ninja Warrior Challenge, MTV’s Ultimate Parkour Challenge, and G4’s Jump City: Seattle. These three television shows created a format where the movements, efficiency, and style could be graded, thus creating a competition.

Parkour “purists” didn’t encourage these shows. They argued that a discipline and art focused on personal progression and growth should not be reduced to simply another game show. They feared that the original intent of parkour would be destroyed.

The shows’ participants that responded to this claims, all prefessional athletes, by defending parkour as a competition using the Theory of Application. They argued that the “purists” were placing limits on environmental and human reclemation.

Once again, parkour is still an infant, and the fate of its place in competitions is yet to be decided. What do you think? Should parkour remain a personal challenge, or be allowed to become a public sport?

The final aspect of the philosophy behind parkour has already been touched on quite a bit: personal growth. This is what impacted my life the most.

The lessons I learned while doing parkour have penetrated into every aspect of my life. All those jumps that seemed too far, all those walls that seemed too tall, conquering them created in me a confidence that I couldn’t have found elsewhere. Fighting those fears, pushing my limits, and discovering my potential opened up a world of opportunities in other areas of my life.

Check out this excellent video from Daniel Ilabaca about how parkour has impacted his life.

5 Parkour Games to Train With

A lot of training is simply playing. When I was heavily involved in parkour, my friends and I would make up plenty of games to assist our sessions. These games made us competitive, which helped us conquer some mental barriers, and also cooperative, teaching us to work together.

Try out these 5 parkour games next time you’re training with some friends and you’ll be surprised by the results.

Tag

Parkour GamesThis parkour game is so simple. One person tries to tag another. That’s it. However, there are many different variations that can be added in order to change it up some. Define specific boundaries, make only certain types of surfaces touchable, or maybe disallow certain movements. The possibilities are endless!

My favorite variation is zombie tag: everyone who is tagged becomes the tagger with the original tagger. Last man standing wins!

This game will challenge your ability to make quick decisions and connect your movements smoothly.

Add On

This is my personal favorite. One person performs a movement. The next person performs the first person’s movement and then adds on another. Go down the line of people until the sequence of moves is so long that someone stalls before a movement.

This game trains the specific movements that are chosen and also the flow between multiple movements.

Follow the Leader

Follow the leader

Follow the leader

This game behaves much like tag, but has its differences. Instead of running for your life, you’re either leading or following. The leader has to think quickly and the follower has to emulate what the leader does. It’s very fun and simple.

This parkour game teaches the leader to think quickly, and challenges the followers to complete the same  movements as the leader more fluidly or efficiently.

H.O.R.S.E.

Parkour Horse

Horse

Ever played horse in basketball? It works for parkour too! Take turns completing movements until someone flinches or falls. That person then has an ‘H’. Go all the way until you spell our ‘Horse’.

This parkour game requires each participant to be challenged by the others. It’s definitely a mental block breaking game if you ask me!

Speed Runs

This last game is very simple. Point A to point B; whoever gets there the fastest wins! If you’re at a training location that has a wide variety of obstacles, you can even do the same run multiple times, each race choosing a different set of moves.

This parkour game will teach you to be quick, confident, and fluid, as your moves must connect together very well in order for you to win.

Paintball?

If you’re a super-boss at paintball and parkour, then you could combine them together!

 

Go Play

And now it’s time for you to stop staring at whatever screen that is before you. It’s time to play. Go out there and explore! Be safe, train well, play hard.

Whenever you tire and return to this screen, check out my top 3 picks for parkour shoes!

The Reasons Behind Parkour Sweatpants

You see it in videos, pictures, and on the news: parkour trainers love sweatpants. But what’s the rave behind the sweats? Why not just run in shorts? There are a couple reasons why parkour sweatpants are preferable over any other type of pant or short:

parkour sweatpants

I always wore Champion sweats myself

Lightweight

Good parkour sweats will be lightweight. Jeans or cargo shorts can be a bit heavy, but good sweatpants won’t slow you down one bit. Of course athletic shorts are also lightweight, but you’ll see in just a moment why I don’t recommend them.

Durable

Good parkour sweatpants are light enough to be weightless, but thick enough to last. If you take a couple falls now and then, sweatpants are going to be able to handle the pressure. This also leads us to the final and most important aspect that athletic shorts or any other type of pant will offer.

Protection

Sweatpants with both of the qualities above will offer significant protection to the trainer. I can’t tell you how many times I scraped up my shins and knees before I started wearing parkour sweatpants to train, even in the summer. It’s completely worth it.

One time I second guessed a movement I was making and ended up with a split open shin. Messing up and falling is a common event in the world of parkour training, so you must be ready. I wasn’t. As I second guessed myself and failed the attempted movement, my shin slammed down onto the corner of the wall I was vaulting. Sliced my shin right down to the bone.

Being safe is one of the most important elements of any parkour training session, and parkour sweatpants will offer you protection that no other below-waist-wear will be able to provide.

Go buy yourself some parkour sweatpants!

Top 10 Best Parkour Videos Ever

It’s a difficult life searching for the best parkour videos available for viewing on the internet. In all my years of training I’ve been able to find what I believe are the top 10 best parkour and freerunning videos ever. It’s a bold claim, I know, so I acknowledge that it’s completely subjective. Your favorite videos will not be the same as mine.

I chose each video based off several questions: Does this video include parkour? Do the trainers express a thorough knowledge of parkour movements? Are the trains exercising good safety? Is this video awesome? Let’s get started!

1. Tempest Freerunning – Gym Video

This video has everything an amazing parkour and freerunning video needs: top-level movements, skilled athletes, and inspiring cinematography. It’s beautiful all the way around!

2. Parkour, Literally

The athlete in this video has the most beautiful movements I’ve ever seen put into a single flow. His form is the best I’ve seen.

3. Daniel Ilabaca – Take My Strong Hand

This former Urban Freeflow athlete was praised for being one of the most determined, disciplined traceurs to ever walk to Earth. His video reveals those qualities.

4. Kie Willis 2013 Showreel

This Storm Freerun athlete has unmatched control over his body and knows how to demand attention in this parkour video.

5. Daniel Ilabaca – Parkour Tour Compilation

There’s a reason Daniel is on here twice and was taken on a tour across Europe.

6. Levi Meeuinburg

This Tribe Parkour member is a sight to see! He’s been featured by dozens of advertising campaigns and is one of the most recognizable professional athletes.

7. Storm Freerun – Volume 1

This showcase of the UK based performance team is incredible.

8. Rafe Kelly – TreeRunner

Imagine the bottoms of this guy’s feet. It takes a lot of creativity and patience to pull off a tree parkour video, and this one succeeds.

9. Ryan Doyle in Dubai

Ryan Doyle, one of the most traveled and skilled traceurs in the world, visits Dubai to do some training. His wisdom and understanding of parkour comes out in this video.

10. Breaking Boundaries

Yup, that’s me any my friend from many years ago. I may be a little biased, but this is definitely in the top 10!

That’s it! what do you think of my top 10 parkour videos list? Leave a comment below if you think a different video deserves to be here.

The Definitive Guide to Parkour Training Locations

If you are searching for the best places for parkour training, but don’t know how to find them, you’ve come to the right article! This is a problem that many practitioners face. Whether you’re in the Alaskan tundra, the plains of Texas, or the beach of Florida, there are places to go for parkour training and practicing!

I’ll start by listing off things to keep an eye out for. Many of the best spots for training are hidden or don’t seem useful. It’ll take some creativity to make use of the places around you, especially if you don’t live in a city, so keep your eyes and your mind open to new things.

Where to Look for Parkour Training

Playgrounds

parkour training

So big, so inspiring.

This may sound silly to you, but playgrounds are excellent sites for parkour training to occur. While they used to be relatively uniform, newer playgrounds continue to get stranger and stranger. These new, odd obstacles will inspire creativity and allow for unique training if you allow your mind to be set free.

When I was a beginner, my friends and I trained at a local park called Legacy Play Village, which was made entirely of wood. All the cool structures provided a fantastic place to master the basics, but the wood wasn’t always best for the movements that would be more suited for concrete training. But that’s okay. The park was excellent for many things!

Keep an eye for parks and playgrounds, but make sure to be respectful to kids and families while you’re there.

parkour training

Theatre building at Texas Tech – one of my favorite spots.

College Campuses

College campuses generally pride themselves in elaborate structures, entree-ways, and courtyards, making them an excellent place get a variety of training in. The local university, Texas Tech, offers numerous places, each with their own specialties and quirks. While other places for training may be spread out, college campuses are bound to have several spots relatively close to each other!

Be careful about being in the way of students and staff, and always respect the campus security and authorities. If you run into trouble, which occasionally happens, simply leave and come back another day.

Churches

There were several churches that had great areas for parkour training that we visited frequently back in my day. One had several picnic tables that we would move around for different obstacle exercises and another had a series of walls where we would practice cat grabs and wall runs.

Still, be aware that some church members would prefer not to have you jumping around on their precious property. Respect that.

Forests

parkour training

So many possibilities!

Forests? Yes! Forests! Parkour training is beautiful in the midst of nature. Use boulders, trees, and even animals (just kidding) to train in a new and exciting way. Nature training can be more difficult to experience since finding specific areas that lend toward a good practice environment is difficult. However, once you discover that set of trees and rocks, whether it’s in your backyard, on top of a mountain, or in a public park, you won’t regret the search.

The bark and rock will be rough on your hands initially, but feeling those naturally occurring surfaces will trigger something in you. You’ll have to be creative to locate and really milk these natural spots.

Beaches

parkour training

Beach om nom.

Sand is very forgiving. Public beaches often have pretty walkways and structures to lend toward the beauty of the scene. These can be excellent areas to train in. Freerunning is more commonly found here, since flipping into sand is more gentle than concrete and dirt, but parkour is completely possible  too.

Look around, look again, and just start moving! Don’t forget sunscreen.

Gyms

While for the most part parkour training will occur outside, gyms present an amazing opportunity for growth. Some things are simply just too intimidating to attempt outside for the first time. Soft floors and comfy pillows make that much less daunting. Be careful to not become so comfortable in a gym that performing the same or similar movement outside becomes merely a dream.

These places may require a small subscription or per visit fee, but are well worth it if you use your time wisely. Push your boundaries hard here so you know what you can handle on concrete. Then push your boundaries on concrete. Check out the Tempest Freerunning Academy!

 

Further Resources

There are many other places that would be fun to give parkour training a try such as open fields and theme parks, but if you’re just out of luck, consider these options. Search on Google and Facebook for local parkour communities. They’ll know where the good spots are and how to get you there.

I would also recommend checking out the hotspot maps of American Parkour, Parkour Spots, and Parkour Generations.

Final Thoughts

You’re now on your way to becoming an expert at locating excellent places for parkour training, but you still lack one thing. Go out and do it! Be creative, try new things, go back to places you thought were not worth visiting. The thing that makes a spot a good spot is the trainer. So go, be free.

Parkour Gloves – Should I Train in Them?

A lot of beginners to the beautiful art and discipline of parkour wonder at some point if it would be worth it to invest in gloves to wear while training. This idea comes pretty naturally after the first several scratches and scrapes. Our hands are just not used to gripping brick and concrete in the ways that parkour requires. But does that mean training gloves are a good investment?

Simply put, I do not recommend them for most traceurs. There are however, exceptions which I will cover after I tell you why bare hand is suggested strongly.

Why You Should Not Train in Gloves

Training parkour without gloves allows your hands to develop beautiful callouses that will harden and become more and more functional as time goes on. Hard callouses may sound nasty, but they’re wonderful. After several training sessions you won’t feel the burn and pain of scraped up and blistered hands. Yeah your precious hands won’t look so good initially with the developing callouses, but as they harden, a soft layer of skin will grow on the outer surface, allowing your hands to be somewhat soft again.

parkour gloves

The end of a long day

With those rock hard callouses you’ll be able to do things you never though possible. You’ll have super hero hands. Splinters will not be a problem, fumbled knives won’t draw blood, and metal bottle caps will be a twist away to liquid bliss.

You will also experienced increased grip with bare hand training. Most gloves will impede you from gripping objects and surfaces well and may even cause slipping due to the material.

But here’s the big thing: you can feel everything so much better when training with bare hands. Gloves will disable you from being able to feel everything you touch and give you a false sense of preparedness. When you want to do parkour without gloves when you typically do have them on, your inexperienced hands will not recognize the materials you come in contact with. Nor will the spacial awareness be the same. The padding and room between the hands, glove and surface will all be different.

I strongly recommend to train bare handed. You’ll experience better grip, spacial awareness, and you’ll have awesome strong hands.

 

Why You Should Train in Gloves

parkour gloves

A bit of protection from the elements

If you’re passionate about the softness of your hands, gloves are going to be great for you. I know of several women practitioners who prefer to wear gloves and keep their palms and fingers silky smooth. Without gloves, your hands are going to get roughed up a bit and will be sore every once in a while.

Conditioning is also a great time to wear gloves. Trust me, twenty pull ups on a bar rubs your hands ran and creates blisters. That’s just one example of a time when I wish I had gloves for conditioning. If I had saved my hands for the conditioning, I could have trained the parkour harder.

It would be acceptable to use parkour gloves if the weather requires it. Training when the temperature is low can be downright painful to the fingers. Gloves would lessen this problem.

If you’re going to buy parkour gloves, I have a few recommendations:

High Dexterity Pro

Grease Monkey Parkour GlovesGrease Monkey’s High Dexterity Pro gloves are good because they are meant for precision tool use. No, parkour doesn’t involve heavy machinery, but these gloves transfer over very well. A tight fit,  good grip, and remarkable durability make these $12 gloves a solid investment.

Youngstone Carpenter Plus

Youngstone Carpenter Parkour GloveThe other glove I recommend is the Youngstone Carpenter Plus. This glove is full of grip and boasts a tight fit as well. Originally meant for carpentry use, these gloves will protect your hand for a long time. For $15, that’s hard to beat!

No matter if you buy gloves or not, it does not determine the seriousness of your training. Do not let people look down on you because you use gloves or don’t use them. Embrace whatever decision you choose and run with it!

Good luck and be safe!

5 Essential Parkour Moves

Parkour is not a collection of moves, it’s an attitude and lifestyle. Make sure to see the article What is Parkour? before simply skimming this list of parkour moves and thinking you’re good. Don’t get me wrong, parkour is usually enacted through these movements, but it’s not the moves itself. This list is not definitive. It is a guide to the basics only. Use it as a starting point to progress to bigger and greater things by your own ability.

Parkour Precision

Precision

Precision

This is an extremely simple move, and you’ve probably done it many times. You simply look at a spot, and jump onto it from another spot. That’s  it. Most beginners jump and land with only one foot. You’ve probably noticed though that skilled practitioners use both feet to jump and land. Keep your feet together (unless you’re jumping from a run)!

This will strengthen many different muscle groups and teach you to trust yourself. In actuality, jumping with both feet gives you more precious, because all your focus is in front of you. Throw your feet in front of you just a bit more than you normally would to make sure you have the best view possible.

The glory days

That’s me (back in the day)

Monkey / Kong Vault

This is one of the iconic parkour moves that can be easily recognized. The monkey and kong vaults are very similar, but have a single difference that sets them apart. A monkey can be performed by placing your hands on an object (such as a rail) and jumping over it, having your legs go over the object and in between your hands, which never let go. It’s odd and awkward initially because it’s not a common movement outside of parkour.

While a monkey vault is appropriate in many situations when you need to go over an object after standing still, the kong is going to be best when you’re coming out of a run. Instead of placing your hands down first, you jump. Hard. Your hands go out in front of you and touch the end of whatever you’re jumping on, re-positioning your body to allow your legs to swing through like the monkey.

Parkour vault

Speed Vault

Speed / Safety Vault

The speed vault is the quickest vault in most situations. It simply involves jumping over an object at an angle and using a single hand to tap the surface to let your legs come back down. This vault enables the practitioner to run at full speed, vault, and continue running at full speed. Other vaults will slow you down or not allow you to return to the original position that you started the vault in.

Alternatively, the safety vault occurs when you place your outside / upper foot on the object and swing your inner leg through. Placing the foot down gives you just a moment to reconsider if you really want to vault that object before you go over. If you opt out, stopping completely or turn around into a cat are viable options.

Parkour Cat

The Cat Hang

Cat Hang

The cat is a parkour move that requires a bit of upper-body strength. Your hands are holding onto the top of a wall while your body is hanging down. To help you anchor, pull your knees to your chest and let your feet take some of the weight.

This position is very useful. You can jump off a wall onto another, then proceed to climb up or let yourself down. Don’t ignore the cat.

Roll

The parkour roll is arguably the most important parkour move to be confident in your ability to perform. I’ve seen people survive incredible falls by rolling. Of course on fail videos you don’t see people roll, because they’re just adrenaline junkies jumping off buildings. But the real practitioners know how to roll well.

This isn’t a gymnastics roll where you go straight on over. This roll is performed by starting with the back end of one shoulder, and ending up on the hip of the opposite side. Sound easy? I would say it’s one of the most difficult things to master. It takes great control to be able to perform the roll well – especially on concrete – without it hurting even a little bit. Check out Ryan Doyle’s excellent tutorial!

Those are the 5 essential parkour moves to know! There are many more, and many variations of the ones listed, so keep exploring and be safe! Discuss these movements with other traceurs on the American Parkour forums!

What is Parkour?

One of the most common questions I get asked when I tell people that I did parkour is simply, “what is parkour?” There are so many different ways to answer this question, so I am going to give you the short, elevator explanation, and then the long, detailed one.

What is Parkour?

The Short Answer

what is parkour

Parkour is the discipline and art of movement, and of training your mind and body to overcome obstacles and boundaries. It often involves running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, crawling, and a number of other physical movements. The practitioner slowly pushes his boundaries mentally and physically continually, progressing himself as a person.

 

The Long Answer

Parkour is a discipline. It forces the practitioner to stretch his abilities mentally and physically through movement. Running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, crawling, and a number of other actions are used to break the trainer’s boundaries. As his skills increase, so does his mental confidence. This stretches into every aspect of his life, be it work, school, or family. The training disciplines him to face his fears, tackle trials with confidence and patience, and keep progressing.

what is parkourParkour is an art. Moving around any environment in a way that wasn’t originally intended, like most parkour training entails, is artful. Connecting individual movements to be a sequence of graceful maneuvering takes training, patience, and finesse.

Parkour requires… consistent, disciplined training with an emphasis on functional strength, physical conditioning, balance, creativity, fluidity, control, precision, spatial awareness, and looking beyond the traditional use of objects.

Parkour movements typically include… running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, balancing, and quadrupedal movement. Movements from other physical disciplines are often incorporated, but acrobatics or tricking alone do not constitute parkour.

Parkour training focuses on… safety, longevity, personal responsibility, and self-improvement. It discourages reckless behavior, showing off, and dangerous stunts.

Parkour practitioners value… community, humility, positive collaboration, sharing of knowledge, and the importance of play in human life, while demonstrating respect for all people, places, and spaces.

Thanks to American Parkour for the last several points.

Now that you know what parkour is, check out How to do Parkour.