Train Hard - Stay Humble
"Parkour is here to say I can. It is also here to say I cannot."
- David Belle
How to Practice Parkour: A guide for those about to take the first step
Before beginning to train Parkour, you must consider your physical condition. You should not attempt any technique that your body cannot handle the consequences of. You need to either build strength, endurance, speed etc. before you start training, or progress at such a slow rate that your body is conditioned by your training process.
There are many different ways to train Parkour, most of which are valid and useful depending on the practitioners intentions. One of the original methods of training is the simplest, often the most fun, and overlooked by many practitioners. The method goes like this: pick a point off in the distance and do whatever it takes to get there. Keeping your personal limitations in mind, start with a slow safe pace. Trace a path between two points over and over until you are a master of your territory. You should notice a gradual increase in your speed, endurance, and the ease with which you transition between obstacles. This progression can take hours, days, and even years depending on the path you choose, your natural ability, and several other factors. The important thing is to continue progressing no matter how slowly. This method is the essence of Parkour, and will lay the foundation to understanding it.
Once you have practiced the above method for a while, you will begin to develop a personal style. You will approach obstacles in a way that is unique to your body and abilities. This is an important step in the early stages of training, because it will combat the mentality that Parkour is a set of “tricks” or “moves” that is often instilled in beginners by Youtube videos and other popular yet misleading websites. The common movements employed by others do not necessarily make sense for you. That is precisely why it does not make sense to rely on videos as a way to learn. Once you have overcome this mental obstacle and risen above the poor standards set by many others, you can take your training in many different directions.
One such direction would be a continued development of the skills you have learned through self exploration. When you are in tune with yourself, no one knows what works better for your body than you. You can begin to drill the techniques that you have created, establish new ways of moving through experimentation, and find new paths and environments to master.
Small Group Training
Another direction, which can be complimented by the one above, would be to start training with other people. Getting together with a small group (2-4 people) can shed new light on your training regimen. New people offer new ways to move, different paths to take, and constructive criticism of your methods. Since you have already developed your own style, the ideas offered by new people can only expand your possibilities.
Beginning your training as a genuine collaboration within a small group of people can be effective as well. If you start off this way, be sure that ideas are not stifled and no one person sets the bar of what should work for everyone. This method works best as a creative discovery between friends. One the other hand, if you followed someone else’s methods from the beginning, you could be stuck with a style that does not actually make sense for you.
Large Group Training
As mentioned above, learning Parkour in a group works best in small numbers. This is true because larger groups too often succumb to a herd mentality. While large gatherings have the potential to be an extension of the smaller training and discovery sessions, too often they devolve into a roaming herd that quickly grazes over obstacles looking for the next big trick. Understanding Parkour through self discovery is the sure way to avoid falling victim to this useless practice. Personal experience makes a traceur and his Parkour unique.
Finally, another direction you can take would be to get a Parkour coach. This option can be helpful to someone who does not know how to condition or prevent injury. However, I highly recommend experimenting by yourself first. By entrusting your early development to a stranger, you run the risk of following a path that is completely wrong for you. Again, it would be wise to develop an understanding of Parkour through training before seeking out a coach. If you insist on finding a coach, be very cautious when choosing one. As Parkour gets more popular, there is an increasing number of people trying to cash in as coaches. Be wary of anyone who does not offer their services for free at least part of the time. A coach who is still connected to the community through free outdoor training sessions is a good bet. A good coach will set you down the path of discovery, while a bad coach will set you down their own path.
If you have already started training, and you realize now that your path may be narrow or restricted, you may want to start over from scratch. Remember to stay safe by not attempting anything beyond your body’s means. Also, the most fundamental understanding of Parkour comes from the personal challenge of tracing from one point to another. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran it would be wise to make that a part of your training. It is after all, at the most basic level, the practice of Parkour.
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