Parkour combines the disciplines of running, jumping and climbing with martial arts and gymnastic moves. The aim is to move through the urban environment in a creative manner so that the different movements flow together and are aesthetically pleasing. Some of the move are strenuous and require disciplined training to master, and to achieve with minimum risk of hurting your body.
Jumping and Leaping
Jumps and vaults are central to many movements in parkour, and are regarded as a signature of the discipline. There are precision jumps, tic-tac jumps, cat leaps and many others that all require strong legs and core muscles. Vaults require a standard jump that then involves the arms, shoulders and torso. There are many different types of jumps but they can be divided into running jumps and standing jumps. The best way to train your body for jumps is to do lots of small jumps to build the right muscles.
Running jumps are commonly used to move over gaps or obstacles that are not suitable for running on. Run-ups should have measured and consistent strides using the balls of the foot and should be fast and dynamic. The optimum angle of elevation is 45 degrees. Remember to alternate your takeoff leg to keep both legs developed. For precision jumps, where you need to land on a small or narrow object, you should aim for a little extra height so that you are coming down for the landing rather than having horizontal momentum.
Standing jumps have no run-up and use the legs, core muscles, upper body and arms as you push off and stretch into the movement. You should have strong abdominals to do these well. You need a fast powerful takeoff, good coordination and the ability to control a soft landing. As you takeoff, lean into the jump and get as much push as possible from your legs. Raise your knees in flight and aim your feet towards the landing spot to give you more carry and a softer landing. Bend your legs when landing and try not to overbalance or wobble.
Before you learn big jumps you must learn how to land to absorb and redistribute the impact shock of landing in order to protect your body. You can use rolls to disperse the impact. Don’t hold your breath as you land as this makes you rigid. Ideally you should breathe out as you hit the ground to help your body relax and absorb the shock. Land on the balls of your feet as flat-footed or heel landings will jar your knees and lower back. Use your anatomy to redistribute the landing shock over as much as your body as possible by keeping both legs in similar positions, not locking your legs or upper body and remembering to bend your knees to cushion impacts.