Train Hard - Stay Humble
[originally posted by BApk co-founder Chris, a.k.a. Kaos, at his East Coast community site NEpk]
Learning when to use speed and power is one of the most important fundamentals in Parkour. Appropriate use of these two elements can often mean the difference between success and failure, and safety and injury. Too often people use speed to compensate for lack of technique, when properly timed power would be more effective.
The faster someone runs at an object, the more difficult it becomes to gauge the timing of his jump. As he approaches with increasing speed, he decreases the amount of time he has to decide when to jump. Once that short window of opportunity is missed the traceur ends up jumping too close to the obstacle, and must slow himself down so that his speed does not carry him directly into it. All the power used in the approach was wasted, when it could have been applied to the jump.
When using the power technique you can jump closer to the obstacle and push off of it because you have less speed directed into it. This in turn allows you to push off the obstacle and increase your distance. When jogging up to an obstacle, you have long time to gauge the distance and the amount of power you want to use. You are only committed to the jump in the final steps when you apply most of your power. That commitment is essential. Once you have decided to put all your power into the jump, there is no turning back. Conversely, using the pure speed technique you are committed from the very beginning. When running full speed at an obstacle it is very difficult to stop yourself. Not allowing any room for error makes a jump very dangerous. If you do not have your timing down perfectly, you could easily clip the object or simply crash into it.
The majority of the time, even for ... advanced traceurs, a properly timed power burst is the most effective technique in surmounting an obstacle.