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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!