I know I should sleep, but Pepsi is really good, and I can't get parkour out of my head. Every time I see something higher than waist-level, I think: can I kong over that? I'm gonna kong over that tomorrow. And I feel I've gotta keep these coming to build more interest. Might as well be doing it while I'm waiting for my body to recover from training. Which brings me to my next point.

I have been totally out of shape since the ninth grade. I've been working out irregularly for phys. ed. at school, but it does nothing for you without consistency. The moment I started training on Saturday, I put my body through more than I ever had in two years. Kong vaults build insane muscle. And wear it out just as...insanely. You feel it everywhere. The legs and back, especially. And forearms. Get ripped.

I was too sore to run on Sunday and Monday, trained with stiff legs on Wednesday (I loosened up by the end of the day, but I may have overworked myself), and I'm just starting to feel better from that tonight. Hopefully I'll be good to go tomorrow. I'm heading to the gymnastics gym with all the mats and junk to practice some flips.

I'm going to digress a bit here, just for a moment. On the topic of Wednesday's training, I've built excellent muscle memory for kong vaults, and I can perform them over picnic tables without error. You just need a bit of practice and a day or two's rest to absorb the information. It was the same with learning how to drive standard, for me (oh lord). I also tried some reverse vaults, because they look badass.



The jumping motion feels similar to the kong vault, but I jump sideways, instead. I also only use one hand because it looks better. This is only freerunning, after all (the difference in parkour and freerunnning is that parkour embodies efficiency and freerunning is self-expression. You'll see no fancy tricks or flips in parkour). The vault is sort of hard on my back because I couldn't get my legs up, at first. My body was very strained.

Before I went home, I scaled that lavatory three more times, kong'd over two back-to-back benches, and ran up a few walls and onto this ring of wooden planks that I jumped off of a couple times. Oh, and it turns out that lavatory isn't actually a shitter. It's a maintenance office. And a lady came out. Much in contrast of my fear of getting bludgeoned with an unorthodox object like a plunger, or a toilet brush, or something equally nauseous, she only chuckled at me when she caught me on the roof.

One more very important note. I tried to try to do a front flip. That's not a typo. I couldn't even get past building momentum for it. I was in an open field, and there was people around. I hope to overcome this fear by building muscle memory in the gym tomorrow. I've also never even attempted one before, which makes me feel a bit better about this, but...growth. That's what I'm trying to encourage by writing all this. Watch me. If I can do it, you can, too. Overcome your fear. Only then, can you truly live your life to it's fullest.

Anyway, the point is...don't fret if you find yourself unable to move when you first start training. Your muscles will get used to being worked more often and you'll be able to train every day, eventually. Just keep at it.

P.S. Kong vaults equal muscle. I can't wait until my jumping ability improves from it.

Lesson two! Protein and calcium are your friends. When your body's rebuilding muscle tissue, you need a healthy amount of protein or else you won't recover very quickly and won't gain anything. Calcium! If you fall, you wanna be able to get back up.

I've changed my diet to incorporate as much of these two as possible. One, never miss breakfast. Kick the sugar. Have eggs. Two, take calcium supplements after breakfast and after supper. Three, ingest plenty of dairy products. As much brick cheese as possible will give quite a bit of calcium. Three. Stop drinking soda. It's gonna take me a while to get over this, but I'm sure I have enough motivation. It gives me acne, eats away at muscles, and leeches calcium. Gatorade all the way.

I hope this helps, and provided a decent amount of enjoyment.

P.P.S. Kong vaults, get brick.

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Figure I'll edit this for quick reference. This'll be a doozy. Please remember to contact me if you have any questions or need any advice on parkour or freerunning.



Basic



Land




Pretty straightforward. A proper landing is crucial. The human body is capable of incredible feats with the proper manipulation. Many people find heights like two-story houses frightening, but if you land properly you could prevent suffering any damage at all (don't quote me on this).
The most proper way to land is by touching down with your toes, on both feet, bending your legs as you move towards the ground to soften the impact, and doing the same with your hands by placing them between your knees, if you need to. You should do this as much as possible, no matter the height difference. If you need to maintain speed, or soften and extra long fall, a roll would follow.



Roll



Some people think to roll like Link from Ocarina of Time. This is not the case, as represented in the above video. Doing a full forward somersault could damage your spine, and is somewhat more difficult to perform than a proper roll.
A proper roll follows a proper landing when you need to soften an especially hard landing or transfer momentum forward to maintain speed. After touching down with your toes (or hands if you need to), push forward with your legs in a jumping motion to shift the momentum. Don't just fall on your side like I often do. It hurts. Turn downwards and land on your dominant forearm and roll on that shoulder until you are brought to your feet. Don't slow. Keep running.




Vault



Lazy Vault




Use a lazy vault to preserve stamina, whether you're traveling to a location to train, taking a break, if you're tired, or if you're just...lazy. It's probably the easiest vault you can perform, but is only useful on fairly thin obstacles.
To do a lazy vault, no momentum is needed. Simply approach the obstacle, put a hand on it and use it along with a hop to propel you up and over the obstacle, lifting your legs up horizontally to clear it. On your way across, you may place a second hand behind you to support you further, but it might not be necessary. If you're having trouble getting yourself over, you can do a scissor kick with your jump to put yourself higher and at a more horizontal level.



Speed Vault



The speed vault is easy and will probably feel more natural to do as opposed to other vaults (especially if you're used to jumping over fences and junk). It looks deceptively similar to the lazy vault but is used very differently, the main difference being the speed at which it is performed, as you can see from the video.
To perform a speed vault, you need a lot of momentum to push yourself over the obstacle unaided. Take a running start and leap off of the foot of whichever side you intend on turning your body. Use the hand of the same side to push yourself back upright once you're over the obstacle. You should use the opposite foot to help drive yourself over or, as others might say, use the same foot you jumped off of, and land on the same foot you jumped off of. I use them both in a scissor-kick motion.



More to come.


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As some of you may know, I've been an avid follower of parkour and freerunning for the past couple years or so. But, be it from lethargy, injuries, video games, school, or any other previous commitments, I've barely practiced it. Barely as in, the extent of what I've done has been jumping over fences, and painfully clumsy and improper vaults. But, thanks to the combination of physical ability, inspirational music and equally inspirational friends, and perhaps the end of an arduous winter, my passion has been renewed.

I had started on one surprisingly warm March day. There was still a bit of snow around, and the river ran high and blocked off most of the trails, so I couldn't go far. I settled on using a concrete barrier separating two-way traffic on a bridge. The barrier was about four feet high, to the middle of my torso (I'm around six feet tall). I originally set out for a jog, but every time there was a break in traffic I decided to run back and forth across the bridge, vaulting over the barrier.

I performed speed vaults, since I had just studied them earlier that day and they looked simple enough to start on.

A Traceur performing a Speed Vault


This vault is best used when you want to keep momentum, over thin obstacles like rails and fences. After building speed, you jump off of one foot and turn your body horizontal, placing a supporting hand on the obstacle to push your body right-ways up once over. The driving force to clear the obstacle comes from your feet. You can either use your free foot to kick over, or use your free foot and then follow up with the same foot you jumped off of, in a scissor motion, when you need extra power.

I alternated between jumping over left and right. My vaults were sloppy at first, as I never really used my legs to drive myself over. But speed vaults and about the easiest of the easiest, next to lazy vaults.

Progressive image of a Lazy Vault


Lazy vaults are deceptively similar to speed vaults when seen on paper, but there is a large difference when actually performing them. In a lazy vault, you push yourself over an obstacle with the closest arm, catching yourself (or not) with the other arm as you move up and over. And you don't clear it sideways, you only need to lift your legs up. A scissor kick helps get your legs up especially high. It's slow, there is no momentum, but it's good for preserving stamina, or when you're tired.

I ended the bridge run with a single monkey vault.

Progressive image of a Monkey Vault


A monkey vault is performed on high walls or when you don't have enough momentum for a speed vault. You place both of your hands on the obstacle and jump, pushing your feet between your arms and forward, and pushing yourself forward with your arms, and landing on the other side. The fear in this vault is clipping your toes on the obstacle and smashing face-first into the ground. To get used to clearing your feet over top, you can find a low surface such as a picnic table, place your hands on it, and hop up, putting your feet on top of the surface instead of over it. You can do this as many times as you'd like before attempting the real thing. It really helps.

I know I probably should've started this a long time ago to save your eyes, but bear with me, we're half way there.

Last week I found out my friend Billy-Jack was into parkour, as well. It was a major aid to my progression because he's the only one I know who is willing to go out and train with me. I'm too shy to meet the Winnipeg Parkour team just yet.

The following weekend, we decided to meet up and train. First things were first. I had to break through the wall of fear that inhibited my movements so much.

Most likely, the only thing preventing you from doing what you want to do is fear. If you are even the least bit unsure, you will fall. Train. Repetition. Never fear what is to become of you. Wounds heal, a lost opportunity does not. If you know you will make that vault, you will make it. If you start shaking, you become weak and uncoordinated. Never fear.

The first thing I did was a superman roll, to break the barrier. It involves jumping forward, making your body fully horizontal, and landing on your arms, following through with a roll.

The all-famous roll


As seen in the picture above, you roll diagonally along your back, not straight along your spine. Landing and rolling are the most basic parkour maneuvers and should be mastered. Rolling transfers some momentum forward after a landing, softening the impact and maintaining speed.

Once I was used to the idea of my body rotating every which way in midair, we moved on to bigger things. A few tic tacs (wall jumps) later, we were doing kong vaults over a picnic table.

A Kong Vault


The kong vault is identical to the monkey vault with the exception that you jump before you move over the obstacle. This is used to substitute the speed or monkey vault when you need to move over an object that is very long. It is difficult to perform, requiring great upper body strength to propel yourself forward with your arms and clear the obstacle, but one thing you can do to significantly improve the distance of your kong is change steps leading up to the jump. First, you want to build momentum in a running start. Second, when you're close to the obstacle, do a hop and position your feet. Don't slow down or stop. If you want to jump higher, put your feet together and jump. If you want to jump longer, put your feet apart, one in the front and one in the back, use your momentum to roll along them and jump off the forward one. Always remember to swing your arms forward for an extra push. Spot your landing before you jump, touch your arms down as close to the opposite edge of the obstacle as possible, and use them to finish the vault by pushing your legs forward and touching down cleanly on the other side. On a final note, if you find it hard to clear the obstacle with your feet and are clipping your toes, get your shoulders fairly low to allow your waist to rise. It will feel unnatural at first, but repetition will remove that sensation.

In most of my kong vaults, I still land on top of the obstacle instead of clearing it. I think it's because I keep forgetting to swing my arms forward, and fear is still restraining me a tad. It's so easy in theory, but...you just gotta feel it. Become the wind; a force of nature. Flow. And, I'm sort of out of shape. The kongs left my legs sore for two days.

To finish off the night, me and Billy scaled the outside of the public lavatory at The Forks, a festival plaza where the rivers meet. The building was about one story tall with a small ledge to grapple, and a large rectangular stone, used to hold maps of the place, lay a couple meters away. We ran up the wall, grabbed the ledge and sidled over to the map stone, leapt off and away from the building and onto the side of the stone, pulled ourselves up, and prepared to leap to the lavatory's roof. I should add that there was a bunch of chicks cheering and whistling at us. That's another perk about parkour - showing off.

The lavatory building with the map rock beside it


Billy went first, and I have to say that I wouldn't have been able to do it if he wasn't there to keep up with. The jump wasn't far, but we were high up, and the width of the ledge ahead of us was questionable. When it was my turn, I almost bailed. I went to run and shook rapidly in fear, but caught myself before I tried to make the jump. I probably would have hurt myself if I didn't. I took a deep breath, the shaking left me, and without another thought I jumped, slapping my hands down on the roof and hauling myself over as fast as I could.

I've got a few things planned for the next trip. I'm gonna try to tic tac up onto the map rock instead of grabbing the ledge of the lavatory and jumping across. Billy just ran up one side before we left. I also want to try a kash vault and gate vault around there, stuff I've never done before.

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Rhys McScottish

  • Winnipeg, MB, Canada CA
  • Joined Oct 15, 2006
  • Male
  • 22 years young
  • Traceur
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