Parkour/Free Running TechniquesBy Adam Sinicki
Booyah! Presenting a summary of most of the main parkour/free running moves with descriptions and tips. Enjoy!
Free Running/Parkour Techniques/Moves
Description: This one's pretty self explanatory – landing without a role, simply bending the knees when your toes make contact with the floor below.
Tips: Land on the toes, never flat footed or on the ball of your foot. Practice absorbing the impact and transferring the energy as gently as possible to avoid jolted your joints. Go into a Spider-Man style squat or a Ninja pose if it's at the end of a run.
French: Saut de Précision
Description: A move in which you jump statically from one point to another and use precision to land safely on a small surface area. Often used to jump from pillar to pillar for instance.
Tips: Keep your eye focused on the area you wish to land on and make sure it's not wet or slippery before you jump.
English: Cat Crawl
French: Équilibre de chat
Description: Balancining along an edge but on all fours
Tips: Very useful for when you want to grip onto a bar or ledge and aren't confident enough to run along without your hands. Practice to make this as smooth as possible.
Description: Swinging from a pole or a ledge over another obstacle
Tips: Keep your eyes on the bar or ledge you want to grab and then focus on using your legs to give you the momentum to launch through and to the other side.
English: Lache/Hanging Drop
Description: You're hanging from a ledge, tree branch, bar and then you just let go to drop to the next level and land. Often this refers to swinging moves, but you can also perform a lache wherein you just drop down directly.
Tips: To make this into a better looking move try twisting round 360 degrees as you land (demitour). You can also land like Spider-Man again for added effect.
English: Pop Vault
French: Passe Muraille
Description: Run into a wall and launch off of it (like a tick tack) but use the momentum to go into a vault.
Tips: You can use a pop vault to vault something higher than you would normally be able to clear.
Description: Short for 'dynamic' this is a move that comes from rock climbing. It involves hanging from a 'jug' with both hands (one on top of the other if they won't fit) and with your legs pressed against the wall beneath you. You then use a sudden burst of power to push/throw yourself directly upwards to grab another jug or ledge that would otherwise be out of reach. Of course you can swap the words jug and ledge for 'window ledge', 'bar' etc.
Tips: When climbing/building, hanging from a jug is a good way to rest your arms so keep your arms straight so that you're not using any muscle to hold the position. Use a small bounce to get momentum and remember to push off of your feet at the same time as reaching with your arm. Keep your eyes fixed on the jug or ledge you aim to grab so you don't miss it.
Description: Putting one hand on an object as you jump to steady yourself and to make the movement appear more interesting and fluid. In a pass you don't necessarily use the arm to provide momentum or height.
Tips: Be creative and use the pass to add elegance. Some people will even use the hand of a fellow traceur for a pass. A passement can also be very helpful for steadying yourself and keeping yourself upright as you move.
English: Turn Vault
Description: A turn vault or turn down involves twisting as you fall or vault.
Tips: Often used to spin 180 as you drop down a level to shorten the overall drop.
English: Speed Vault
Description: A speed vault is a form of passement – steadying yourself with a hand as you vault. Here you jump over the object at a sideways angle and then place one hand on the object to steady yourself.
Tips: This is well utilized at the end of a hurdle just to help you clear objects that are too long or high or to right yourself if it's going wrong.
English: Thief/Lazy Vault
Description: A kind of lazy version of the king kong – here you vault with one hand and then use your other hand at the end of the vault to push yourself off and add momentum.
Tips: To add a little flare try swapping from one hand to the other rather than using both.
English: Monkey Vault/Kong/King Kong/Cat Pass
French: Saut de Chat
Description: Here you jump over an item as though you are going to dive over it – so you're almost horizontal in a diving position. Then as you continue to move place both hands on the surface and swing your legs through the middle.
Tips: Use the power of your arms to really push yourself across the object and this way you can pass over objects much longer than you normally would be able to (don't be afraid to go very horizontal to do so).
English: Kash Vault
Description: A kong followed by a dash vault – so you get more distance using the kong vault and then help yourself over the edge at the end while providing yourself with extra momentum to continue the flow.
Description: This is the point at which you have done a wall run/tic tack and are now hanging from a ledge waiting to get up. To get up you then launch yourself upwards and use your upper body strength to push yourself onto the wall so that you are standing/squatting on it rather than hanging from it.
Tips: The best way to improve this movement is to work out and to practice muscle ups on a pull up bar or in a playground. When you do it for real you can push off of your legs as in a dyno for extra power.
English: PK Roll/Roll
Description: Roulade is also a german cheese, but in this case it is one of the most important moves in parkour and one of the first you need to learn – the ability to roll into a ball as you land in order to absorb impact and redirect momentum as in a breakfall from martial arts.
Tips: The idea is that your feet barely touch your ground other than to encourage the roll. Generally you're not doing a rolly-polly but rather rolling over one arm. Sweep one arm straight downwards in a diagonal movement so that it's touching the ground and then 'follow' it round rolling onto your shoulder and then back. Rolling on your head is a bad idea as if you get it wrong it will be much more serious.
Description: Again self explanatory – the act of simply balancing along a beam or the edge of an object.
Tips: Wear shoes with a thin sole such as the Vibram Five Fingers or even go barefoot and you will be able to feel the pole better in your foot. Keep your eye on the surface you're balancing along. Practice makes perfect and there are many ways to train this at home.
English: Gap Jump/Running Jump
French: Sat de Détente
Description: Ah, the good old fashioned long jump over a gap.
Tips: Launch off of your good foot and practice your pacing so you are in a good position on approach to the object (but don't over think it). You can use your arms to steady you and for extra momentum.
English: Cat Leap
French: Saut de bras
Description: In the cat leap you launch yourself across a gap, but rather than land on the other side, you grab it and hang from it ready to do a muscle up or drop.
Tips: Use your feet to cushion the impact with the wall and ensure the surface you are gripping onto is not wet or sharp. Bars and railings are the best sites for cat leaps.
English: Wall Jump/Tic Tac
French: Saut de mur
Description: Here you place one or two steps on a wall that you wish to mount, or on an adjacent wall – running up it like a ninja before grabbing the top.
Tips: Hit the wall with the balls of your feet, and keep your eyes on the area you wish to grab. If you can do it in one or two steps this is preferable to trying to run all the way up the wall.
English: Side Vault
Description: Here you simply vault sideways over an obstacle with one or two hands place on it. While the kong vault is suited to long objects this is more suited to taller ones.
Tips: You can add some flare to this by 'kicking' your legs up rather than jumping in a scissor motion, by posing as you go over the object, or by doing a 360 turn in the air prior to learning.
Description: A backflip is when you jump and turn 360 degrees in the air backwards and land. Sometimes people use the word to refer to back handsprings... but they would be wrong.
Tips: The secret to doing a backflip is to jump directly upwards, look back, and bring your knees in to your chest as fast as you can which will give you the torque and spin you round before you land.
English: Back Handspring
Description: This is a backflip but where your hands touch the floor first. You'd thinking it would be easier... you'd be wrong.
Tips: Jump quite high and backwards too and then focus on arching your back around as quickly as you can and put your eyes on the floors.
English: Front Handspring
Description: Jump onto your hands, then spring forwards and over back onto your feet.
Tips: The secret is to do this quite quickly and to keep the momentum going. Push forward with your hands, and then tuck your legs under as fast as possible under you to land on the balls of your feet.
English: Wall Flip
Description: If one move says 'ninja' it's a wallflip. Run up the wall one or two steps (you can actually just kick off it) and then flip backwards. It's actually easier than a backflip too.
Tips: One step is easiest and all you have to do is to kick off with enough force to spin around. The only thing you need to worry about is kicking off far enough away so that you don't hit your head spinning around.
English: Front Flip
Description: The opposite of a backflip. Harder though.
Tips: Dive upwards and forwards and then curl up quickly at the apex of the movement. Use your hands too to spin yourself round.
English: Wall Spin/Palm Spin
Description: This is a kind of horizontal spin where you run up to a wall, place one or both hands on it, and the turn around along the wall – almost jumping and turning over your own hands before landing on your feet the other side.
Tips: The idea here is to use your hands in order to spin yourself so that they provide some of the torque – when using two hands on the wall pull with one and pull with the other in order to twist your body around.
Description: In this, you stand... but on your hands.
Tips: Develop your traps, pecs and shoulder muscles. To walk on your hands tip your body weight slightly forward and use the falling motion to move forward. At the same time moving your feet slightly will also help you to generate momentum.
English: Butterfly Kick
Description: In a butterfly kick, taken from wushu martial arts, you twist horizontally in the air while throwing out back kicks in a scissor motion.
Tips: To generate the torque, violently twist your body round so that you are looking up and then allow your feet to follow. It's great for adding flourish when moving off of small ledges.
Description: A no-handed cartwheel
Tips: Can be used as a dismount or a vault/hurdle. Here your head and upper body don't move at all – keep your eyes fixed on one spot of land and for heaven's sake keep your legs straight.