How do I get started in Parkour?
Last edited: 3/5/2008 Links Updated.
First off, welcome to American Parkour! It's good that you're asking how to get started in Parkour. The most important thing is safety. Start slow and work on always being in control. Getting in better shape will be the most dramatic improvement for most people. Try the APK warm-up and assess how you do. For some people that's a full workout, and for some it's just too challenging (30 pull-ups isn't something most people are used to). If you can do the warm-up no problem in less than 20 minutes, then you can probably add the WOD to your routine as well. Be sure to check with your doctor, your mom, your lawyer, my lawyer and at least two politicians before starting any exercise program, who knows, you might get fit!!
After you've done the APK warm-up and worked up to the point where you can and do participate in the WOD regularly, you're ready to take on some Parkour movements. Check out the tutorials on the site, and if you get serious about it, check out the tutorial DVD. Start with landing then move on to rolling, no exceptions!! If you're going to go 'up' you'd damn well better know how to get down. Once you're comfortable with the landings (maybe 2 weeks of practice) you can try some vaults over a railing, preferably with grass on the landing side. The reason for most injuries is lack of commitment to the move, and lack of comfort with 'crash' landings. This is why landing and rolling are so important, not only do you need to do them well on purpose, but you have to be prepared for the unexpected times where these really save your butt (or face) as well.
Probably the best thing you can do to improve quickly (aside from practice), is to meet up with the people in your area with experience. Be careful here, as not everyone who's proficient at something is good at teaching it. Most everyone in the Parkour community has good intentions and is willing to help, just seek out multiple people's advice and trust what your body is telling you first and foremost. If you go this route, never go to meet someone new alone, unless you're safe. You can look in the 'Locals Only' forums to find people near you. There is also information in there about Jams, which are a great way to meet people in your area, especially since it's usually in a group setting.
There is a secret way to become good at Parkour fairly quickly: consistent, hard work. The only way to improve is to practice, and practice diligently. Parkour can be a great way to attain and maintain fitness, have fun, challenge yourself, and push your limits. Parkour can also be dangerous so take it slow and use common sense. Have fun, train hard!
Here are some links to our tutorials:
Let's start with the living room carpet. Why the living room carpet you ask? This is where you will begin learning how to roll correctly. Yes, rolling. It may sound lame, but personally I'd much rather take a week to learn how to roll than break my leg being a newbie superman. Take your time, learn it correctly, the more corners you take the worse off you'll be in the end. Rome wasn't built in a day, neither will your abilities. We already have a rolling tutorial, click the link to visit it and go try it out!
Now, just because you're moving on in the world of parkour, doesn't mean you should forget about the roll. You learned it first because you use it the most! So keep practicing it!
Moving on. After you get a good understanding of the roll, you can move on to a large variety of things. Vaulting, jumping, climbing... it's all part of the art and you're going to find a need for it at some point. My next suggestion would be to go learn how to jump and roll correctly.
Jump and Landing Tutorial
If you can't touch the top of what you're jumping off of, take care when jumping. The velocity at which you land goes up exponentially as the height increases! The higher you are, the faster you are moving when you land, the more stress that your body takes, the more damage your body recieves. Remember, there is no avoiding body wear-and-tear (however slight it may be), there is only limiting, so take care of your body and use common sense. Is it worth jumping off something high in the long run? I'll let you determine that for yourself.
Well, I hope while you were frolicking around you didn't try to jump over a trash can, get tripped, and taste worms. If you did, lighten up, I did it too, but it leaves you thinking... "how in the world do I get over that!" This is where a "vault" comes in. There are many different kinds of vaults, since you're just starting we'll do the two "easiest" vaults. These vaults are the least complex, and normally the fastest and most fluid aswell.
Speed Vault Tutorial
Monkey/Kong Vault Tutorial
As you learn more and more vaults, you'll begin to get more comfortable with going over obstacles using your hands. I personally rarely do any other vault than the two above, but if you're feeling adventurous here are a few more to have fun with.
Reverse Vault Tutorial
Dash Vault Tutorial
Gate Vault Tutorial
Ok... after you conquer the trashcan it's time to move on to those really really tall things that you can't seem to monkey vault. In this scenario, we would use what is called a "wall run" which is basically running vertically up a wall. This allows you to reach the top of a tall object and with practice is a very useful tactic.
I'm going to put tic tacs and turn vaults in this category as well. Tic tacs are used to run along walls, such as tacking off a wall in order to get over a rail that you don't feel comfortable vaulting etc. Turn vaults on the other hand are used at height, when you want to get down but don't feel comfortable simply speed vaulting a rail that is 10 feet above the floor. A turn vault allows you to overcome the obstacle, and then will lessen your fall from the height. Why and how this is done is discussed in the tutorial, so go read it.
Tic Tac Tutorial
Turn Vault Tutorial
Now that you've learned how to climb appropriately, chances are you're going to start running into what are called "cat leaps." These are jumps that you will not be able to land with your feet, but rather you will jump and grab the edge of whatever you're landing on and pull yourself up.
Cat Leap Tutorial
The last of the basics, is called precision. That's right, precision. This will take quantive amounts of balance and concentration to learn, but is probably one of the most rewarding practices in parkour. It's extremely important to learn this, but I feel that it's not a skill that is best to learn early, as it is a very difficult one. The best time to learn precision is after you've gotten a good understanding of what you're capable of, that way you have less of a chance of injury... so now that you've got some experience under your belt, go learn it.
Now what you ask? Simple, practice is what follows. The largest influences in parkour practice every day, but it's up to you what, when, how, and where you want to practice. Your journey truly begins here, this is where you can begin to link everything that you've learned together. Whether it takes you a month to get to this point, or a year, it doesn't matter. What is important to remember is that the name of the game is having fun, and being safe.
If these tutorials just aren't helping you out, you can contact (PM or Email) your local Moderator or administrator with questions regarding starting, they will be happy to answer. Also look in the movement forum for some great discussions on specific techniques.
The journey begins here, it's up to you where it goes. Just remember to be safe and have fun!