PHYSICAL TRAINING IS OF SOME VALUE, BUT GODLINESS HAS VALUE FOR ALL THINGS, HOLDING PROMISE FOR BOTH THE PRESENT LIFE AND THE LIFE TO COME
|- 1 TIMOTHY 4:8|
The single most important thing to keep in mind when approaching Parkour is know your limitations. Do not attempt something beyond your skill level!!! Anyone who has seen the videos on YouTube knows that this is an exciting recreational activity. What's not obvious about the people in these videos is the amount of time they have invested in training, the repetition of their moves, and mental preparation for each and every obstacle they approach. Parkour is a highly disciplined activity where overcoming each challenge is 80% mental and only 20% physical. That said, strength, agility, flexibility, endurance, and coordination are key to safety and enjoyment.
To get started, first you must establish a good foundation of skills. These are essential as you'll use them in each and every obstacle. They are: jumping, landing, and rolling. You need to learn the proper technique and then drill these moves until you don't have to think about them. When you're in mid-flight and approaching your landing, you won't have time to think about your roll. You'll only have time to do it. If you don't land correctly, you won't roll properly and you'll likely get hurt.
According to The Discovery Channel's "Human Body", running puts a strain on our legs 3 times the weight of our body, and a jump can put a strain up to 10 times our body weight. This means that if you do not learn how to land safely, you could do irreversible damage to your joints, your ligaments and tendons. It is essential that jumping, landing, and rolling are "first nature", not "second nature". Besides, if you're thinking too hard about jumping, landing, and rolling, then you're not enjoying the "art of movement".
Seeking out training by a qualified instructor or highly-experienced practitioner is the absolute best way to learn these foundational skills. As with anything else, if you learn a particular skill early and improperly, it is habit-forming. You will have a very difficult time correcting your technique later on. I recommend visiting either Primal Fitness in Washington DC or Urban Evolution in Alexandria, both of which provide qualified instruction in Parkour, Free Running, and CrossFit/UrbanFit. They will teach you proper jumping, landing, and rolling technique and give you instant feedback on your execution. What is most important here is the third person perspective. These trainers have extensive experience in coaching and performing these moves. They will point out problems with your technique that could cause short-term and long-term injury, which in turn could prevent you from enjoying this "sport" for years to come.
- Urban Evolution - Salil Maniktahla, Owner
- ...specializing in Parkour/Free Running, UrbanFit, Aerial Acrobatics, Gymnastics, Break Dancing, and Capoeira
- Primal Fitness - Mark Toorock, Owner
- ...specializing in Parkour/Free Running, CrossFit, and Gymnastics
- American Parkour
- ...excellent tutorials and a huge forum of practitioners
- Urban Freeflow
- ...videos of isolated moves and white papers on techniques