Learn Parkour : Lesson 1

So you want to learn parkour?

In order to learn parkour you must first master the essential parkour moves. It also requires fitness, flexibility and the appropriate attire. If you aren’t in reasonably good shape trying to learn parkour may result in serious injury. Failing to warm up with proper stretching techniques can also increase your risk of injury. If you’ve watched a few parkour videos you have noticed that a lot of practice can make this activity look simple. Hopefully you have also seen a couple parkour fail videos so that you know there is more to it than meets the eye. We won’t dwell on the dangers of parkour but always keep in mind that you can be seriously injured if you fail to prepare yourself or make bad decisions regarding risk.

learn 214x300 Learn Parkour : Lesson 1

Image used under Creative Commons from michaelpickard

Learn Parkour: Before you fly learn how to land

We will start with the drop. In parkour, the term used for jumping onto something at a lower elevation is known as a drop. In order to master the drop you will want to progress in small increments while practicing your form. As you master small drops you can progressively increase the distance of your drops to a certain point. Eventually your body will tell you that you are pushing it to the limit as it becomes uncomfortable to land even with proper form. Don’t push too hard or you might end up unable to learn parkour for a long time.

While you learn parkour you must land correctly during your drop. This can be accomplished by using one of several parkour landing techniques depending on the terrain. Let’s take a simple short distance drop for example. With a two foot drop onto a concrete surface you should easily land on both feet while keeping them roughly shoulder width apart. You should always land on the balls of your feet and not on your heels. In fact, your heels should not even touch the ground while you are landing. Remember to have your knees slightly bent as landing stiff legged can cause serious knee, hip and back injury. Your torso should also be slightly bent at the waist. This allows your body to absorb the shock of landing by bending your knees ankles and waist as you land. Practice small drops until you feel that you have minimized the shock of landing as much as possible. This should give you a feel for what it’s like to execute a proper drop. As you progress to new heights you will notice that it requires slightly more tension before landing in order to absorb the impact but always remember to remain flexible. You must balance this concept with the fact that your knees should not flex much more than about ninety degrees since this can cause joint injury. Preventing injuries will allow you to learn parkour a lot faster than laying in bed healing will.

Bigger drops require different landing techniques. Some require using both hands and feet for landing. Others require incorporating a roll into them. As a general rule you should use a roll anytime that you are making a drop that is taller than your body height. For short drops a basic landing with both feet is sufficient. It is the ones in between that may require a safety landing where both hands and feet are utilized.

Learn Parkour: The safety landing

With this landing you will want to keep your feet at approximately shoulder width just like a basic landing. This time you will bring your hands to the ground palms facing down between your legs. Make sure that your knees do not open up wide as this can cause problems with groin and inner legs muscles by placing excessive stress on them. By using your hands you are able to help control your landing by using upper body strength along with your legs when you land. It is a good idea to practice this with low drops as you improve your form. You can even start by simply jumping into the air and then using your safety landing as you touch down.

Learn Parkour: Parkour Roll

When executing drops that exceed your body height it is a good idea to do so by adding a roll to your landing. You will want to practice your roll before using it in an actual drop. To understand how the roll works it is important to look at the difference between the parkour roll and a different type of roll that you might have seen or previously used in something like let’s say gymnastics. One of the first differences that you should notice between gymnastics and parkour is terrain. Sure gymnastics can help you learn balance and develop flexibility but we have to take into consideration that parkour doesn’t have any mats to help absorb impact and protect your body from hard surfaces. When you learn parkour there are few safety mechanisms other than using your brain and being in the best possible physical condition.

Think about a somersault for example. Most of us can perform this roll on a mat and probably learned how to do it at a very early age. The problem is that somersaults aren’t particularly good for your back especially when you are rolling on concrete. As you roll, a good length of your spine is submitted to the weight from your body. This is bad. In a parkour roll we want to minimize the pressure to our back and keep vertebrae away from concrete. To accomplish this we will use a diagonal path along our back that starts at one shoulder and ends at the opposing side of our gluteus maximus. This is known as a shoulder roll.

To begin the shoulder roll you will need to maintain your forward momentum. As you land with your legs at a ninety degree angle you should have your hands out in front of you. Always point your fingers inward. Landing with your fingers pointed toward the outside of your body can easily cause wrist and arm injuries. Choose the hand that feels most comfortable to lead with. This will be the side that you initiate your roll from. As you land you will tuck your chin so that your head is pointing down toward your waistline. Use your toes to push yourself toward your shoulder as you use your hands to pull you in the same direction. Your legs should remain tucked in to allow a fluid motion. Remember to end the roll with your gluts or you will most likely end up bruising yourself. You do not want to end the roll on your pelvis or hip. As the roll completes you should roll up onto one knee and continue up to both feet. For a person who wants to learn parkour practicing this roll and mastering good form is essential.

The entire drop and roll should be one fluid motion. If you drop to the ground, stop, and then roll you have defeated the purpose. Not to mention that it probably felt quite awkward. If you are still in doubt watch a few more videos until you can see and imitate the flow of a good parkour shoulder roll.

One thing that can help you learn the parkour shoulder roll is to think of an imaginary line running from your outer forearm up to the shoulder and then diagonally down your back to the opposite side and ending with your gluts. This is the correct path for your roll. Once you have mastered these three basic landing techniques it’s time to move on to the next learn parkour section.

Click here to read the next learn parkour lesson.



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