Still remember the beginning scene in James Bond movie, Casino Royale, which you see a bad guy jumping from crane to wall and to ground? That stunt is similar with Parkour, a new popular trend started from France and getting into other parts of the world.
One of the two famous co-founders of Parkour are David Belle and Sébastien Foucan. They are inspired by the French military training which focuses in using natural capabilities of human body to overcome obstacles efficiently. David Belle appeared in the movie District B13 whereas Sebastian in Casino Royale. Because of difference in opinion, Sebastien Foucan has his version of Parkour which is called Free Running. I shall write more about it in my future post.
What Is Parkour?
Whether parkour is an art or a extreme sport, it remains debatable. It does not belong to any category. Parkout is in its own niche – Parkour is Parkour. Parkour practitioner, or commonly known as traceur (for guy) or traceuse (for girl), normally run, jump, climb or crawl to get to the destination by overcoming obstacles quickly with the least loss of momentum. Least losee of momentum means least enery-consuming. So, it is not acrobatic or stunt without reason.
Obstacles can be:
- A rail that is blocking your path
- A set of steps that would be easier to jump down instead of running down
- Large wall that would be much quicker to climb than run around
Benefits of Parkour?
So, what is the big deal about parkour from health benefits perspective?
- Physical fitness – It is indeed challenging to do run, jump, climb and crawl but it is a good way to keep your body fit and healthy.
- Mental ability – Before you overcome obstacles physically, you need to first overcome them mentally. The fear of falling and hurting yourself has stopped many to learn it. For those who are able to overcome a mental obstacle or feeling of fear, they become more confident. Also, you must always be “thinking on your feet” to anticipate what will come next. The alert must be there.
On a not so serious thought, I will imagine myself walking alone late at night in a big city and some bad guys trying to rob me. I will use parkour to run away from them. Parkour is not a martial art which you take on your hostile opponents directly. Parkout enables you to run away. The approach of Parkour is to “escape” and “reach”.
Be Prepared To Fall
Just like the first time you learn riding a bicycle, you most likely will fall. Even a well trained traceur may still make mistake. I found this video clip showing David Belle’s fell. Most online clips show only the graceful moves of Parkour and often combined together, but seldom we see falls and mistakes. Not this one though.
Belle attempted to leap over a ramp. This ramp is about ten feet high. Belle ran and made the leap. Unfortunately, he missed. But, before his head hitting the wall, he turned quickly so that his shoulders hit the opposite wall. Beneath him, at the bottom of the ramp was a cameraman lying on his back ready to shoot from below. When Belle fell, he made sure himself do not land on him. His first reaction was to ensure the cameraman was not hurt. Then, he walked up briskly up the ramp.
If you asked me what Parkour really is. Belle’s fall has answered that.
When people say doing or playing Parkour, a lot of time, they are not. They are practising for parkour to ensure things are done in safe manner with strength. So, it is important to incorporate the following exercises while you are training for parkour.
Workouts Recommended Before You Learn Parkour
Parkour is fun, but it can also be very dangerous. One mistake may get your injured. Parkour requires large physical demands by the body to do the run, jump or crawl safely. Therefore, it is important to prepare yourself with these workouts before you start training with parkour.
- Jump Squats
- Because many movements in parkour requires rebounding off wall or floor, you need to have explosive jump using your powerful legs. Jump squat will get you there.
- For more information about Jump Squats, click here.
- You need to pull yourself up from rail. To do this, you need great amount of upper body strength and therefore pull-up is a great workout.
- For more information about Pull-ups, click here – Pull-Up.
- Plyometric Push-ups
- Plyometric push-ups increase the explosiveness of your upper body in the same way jump squats do to your legs. Because you need to react quickly which is very common in parkour, this variation of push up will make your other muscle fibers working hard.
- For more information about Plyometric push-ups, click here.
- You need a strong core body, especially a strong abdominal and lower back in parkour. With strong core, you minimize injury due to twisting motion and high impact moves. Plank also requires you to hold the muscle contraction, you will train your endurance strength.
- For more information about Plank, click here.
- Tuck Jumps
- Benefits: Rolls are a key movement in parkour and having strong hip flexors and abdominal muscles will aid in performing these smoothly. To accomplish this, practice doing tuck jumps as often as you can.
- For more information about Tuck Jumps, click here.
In addition to those exercises, you need to build stamina. Start with jogging. Then run, not only on the treadmill at gym, but also running outdoor. In order to build stamina, consider swimming or cycling too.
Another thing, you do not see people wearing gloves in parkour. Why? Because they want to feel the surfaces they are grabbing and be able to know how much grip strength they need to impose on the handle.
In A Nutshell
By doing the above workout, not only you will build a strong foundation of strength, you will also learn more about your body. If you overestimate your strength, flexibility and balance, you may end up injured.
Be patient. Take things slowly. As you grow stronger, you will gain more confidence. Your body will know whether you can jump to the high wall, how long more you can run and how far you can leap. This capability shares the similarity with animal instinct.
Once you are ready, you can join a parkour training centre and I am sure that you will find it easier to pick it up.
Consistent hard work and practice are important to become good at Parkour.
Category: Other Fitness/Sports Articles
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