You may have heard about Parkour or Freerunning (most likely on YouTube), a new type of extreme sport. Put simply, these activities involve jumping on (and off) buildings and obstacles in an efficient or creative way. It may seem like an incredibly dangerous activity that is out of reach for the masses, but in reality, it is something that everyone can do.
I believe Parkour has always existed, it just didn’t have a name until recently. It is simply going back to viewing the world like we did when we were children. Children explore the world with their bodies, they climb, balance, and try to jump over things just to see the limits of what they’re capable of. As a traceur or Freerunner, you do the same thing, except that you are now capable of taking the movements even further.
Originally, Freerunning was just the English name for Parkour, but it has evolved as a movement on its own. If Parkour is training for efficiency, Freerunning is training for expression. It is figure skating to speed skating.
The benefits of training for Freerunning extends beyond simple fitness, it expands into body awareness, body control, and spacial awareness. Parkour also aids in emergency preparedness; functional movement that you practice repeatedly. Getting over obstacles is the essence of Parkour and Freerunning. Vaulting, jumping, and climbing is what it is all about.
A good beginner technique is the precision jump. It is a standing, controlled jump between two objects. Most people do this with straight legs, which is fine for small distances, but larger distances are much more difficult to control. So, the technique is to swing the arms, jump with both legs, bring up the knees into the chest, then bring them down where you want to land. They’re also great for strengthening the legs when jumping from a low object to a high object.
How to Perform Precision Jumps Video:
Speed Vaults involve launching yourself over an object using a leap and one hand. This technique will allow you to quickly and safely get over a variety of obstacles. As you approach a target, launch off the ball of one foot while reaching for a point on the object; bring the opposite leg in. Briefly plant your hand while bringing the leg you launched from into your chest. Stretch your opposite leg behind you. Land on the ball of the foot of the launching leg.
How to Speed Vault Video
This move involves going over an obstacle using only your hands. It’s like a Frog Jump except that the legs don’t go outside of the arms. Approach an obstacle bending forward at the hips and swinging the arms forward. Reach for the target while launching off the ball of one foot. Briefly touch the target with both hands while tucking the knees to your chest. Push off the target and land with the balls of both feet, absorbing the impact with your whole body.
How to Kong Vault Video
Once you have a few techniques, you put them together into runs. Moving, combining moves, and flowing through your environment. The best part of doing free-running is that you don’t realize how much of a workout you are actually doing because of how much fun you’re having. The functional body weight movement can be added to any conventional fitness method. However, the more you do it, the less training it becomes as it turns into a lifestyle. The world you once knew changes into a playground of potential movement.
This article was featured in the Oct/Nov 2011 Issue of the My Mad Methods Magazine. "Freerunning Basics: A Beginners Guide" was written by the John Wolf. Learn more about the My Mad Methods Magazine by Clicking Here
Jo Paloma is a Professional Freerunner and member of Aeon Empire, a group involved in Freerunning, stunts, and acting. With over a decade of gymnastics experience and several years of applying those skills outdoors, Jo has built a Freerunning program for beginners to advanced practicioners. He teaches Freerunning on the weekends to a group of individuals around Southern California on a regular basis. Find out more.
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