Bay Area Parkour

Train Hard - Stay Humble

passes not vaults, and center of gravity t-shirts

The idea that kongs (and most other vaults, but especially kongs) are actually quadrupedal movement has been knocking around in my head for the last few weeks. I've been meaning to write something more stodgy and authoritative sounding, but since I've been too busy to do so I'm just going to throw it out there. The idea occurred to me when I was working on double kongs because the way I gained confidence in my arms was to bend forward and fall or jump onto them and feel how they supported my body movement. I had to feel like I could control myself with them as much as with my legs. Bouncing back and forth between hands and feet started to feel as much like QM as vaulting.

Even after successfully and repeatedly executing double kongs over my chosen obstacle, I wondered if it would be more efficient and perhaps also faster to leap forward bringing my feet up close to my torso and land at the near edge of the obstacle then level kong the length of the obstacle. Certainly this would feel safer when slightly tired during a run or with added weight such as a backpack, at least at my level of confidence in my abilities (Foucan doing it in the 007 chase is another thing).

Then, in another conversation about multi-kongs v. "bear" vaults (which is my default- I feel much more relaxed with that technique, especially when touching more than twice with my hands) where my fellow conversationalist felt that the bear technique was a bail-out for multiples, not so much valid on its own. But in a way that's like the difference between split-foot and paired-feet takeoffs- the former tends to more powerful vertically while the latter tends to be smoother when trying to maintain level movement.

To get a little conceptual, while legs are certainly stronger than arms in humans (we are bipeds, after all), the point of all these the techniques we practice isn't to jump over an obstacle or leap a gap, it's to move. The way I see movement is that the limbs serve primarily to redirect the core; ideally, the the ground (or walls, rails, window frames, etc.) aren't hard surfaces to push against but edges of air that are occasionally checked for balance. The difference between a pass and a vault may seem pedantic when looking at one movement, but it's essential when moving on to flow.

So given that, I'd be interested in making T-shirts with a thick, easily-visible-from-fifteen-yards-away, solid line printed across the chest (or abdomen for women) at approximately the center of gravity of the wearer. This would make it very easy to see how much the c.o.g. moves in comparison to the contortions we put ourselves through to find an efficient line. Plus it could be a neato design element.

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Comment by Fyrel on November 12, 2008 at 8:05pm
What's a "bear" vault? I've never heard anybody use that term before until now.
Comment by Anthony on November 12, 2008 at 7:35pm
i think u bring up an interesting point.. i think that traceurs shouldn't feel inclined to only train movements that have been refined and are most commonly seen throughout parkour world, instead i think the more important skill to train is just to be able to know one's body enough to be able to create a fluid efficient movement even when tired
Comment by SafeNSure on November 12, 2008 at 2:02pm
Albert's doubt is reasonable; not all vaults are intuitively QMs, until you see a 4 years old, or a 64 (non active!) gentleman trying to "pass" even a somehow low (3') obstacles: they almost always, inevitably crawl over it with at least three limbs...
I actually do that too, if I feel I'm out of pace, or of breath... often pushing away with the fourth limb, in an attempt to preserve some sort of momentum forward.

Speeding and powering up that movements can generate a smooth "speed", or even a "reverse" vault, but I tent to agree with Seng that more or less all vaults, dumbed down, are QMs...
Comment by Gabe Schine on November 12, 2008 at 12:14pm
Really interesting post. Thx
Comment by lethalbeef on November 12, 2008 at 9:19am
Agreed about vaulting being essentially an issue of controlling your center of gravity. I think calling it a "pass" vs a "vault" is kind of just a terminology debate, not particuarly important. I'm also not quite sure that all vaults are QM - I certainly agree that it's an essential element in kongs, and perhaps some others, like vaults with lazy dynamics, but it doesn't seem to apply to most things. For example, speeds are essentially hurdling an object to the side with an arm put down to correct balance...

The shirt idea is cool - you could even have the "line" be a block of thick, bold fonted text that says "center of gravity:do not pass" or something :P police caution tape style. If it was just a line, you could just put some electrical tape over the shirt, eh?
Comment by SafeNSure on November 12, 2008 at 8:03am
This is the coolest thing I've read in quite some time...

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