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What is Parkour?

by willow on April 2, 2011

in Events,Info

Our Zombie Preparedness : Parkour is tomorrow (learn more and register on the original entry)! In celebration, our instructor Brandee from Parkour Visions did a write-up for us:

Intro to Parkour Training for the Zombie Apocalypse

I. Introduction: What is parkour?
II. What’s parkour have to do with zombies?
III. When is training utilized?
IV. Training
a. Mental Preparation
b. Physical Preparation
c. Environment
V. Conclusion

I. Introduction: What is parkour?

Parkour is a method of movement that focuses on the ability to adaptively navigate terrain using just the body. As a discipline, the training of parkour happens slowly, progressively, the purpose of which being to obtain the ease of responding to needing rapid movement calmly, safely, and effectively. Because parkour is about training overall movement, it can be applied to numerous purposes, from being an enjoyable exercise regime to preparing for emergency situations. Training for parkour is not the same as having to run for your life. The former is one of many methods of preparation that allow you to have better chances for the latter.

Physical qualities trained for include:
Proper Body Mechanics

Mental qualities trained for include:
Situational Awareness

The basic movement categories are:
Quadrupedal Movement

Though parkour is a physical discipline, it has everything to do with mindset and emotional control. Fear is a gift and a bane; it is to be familiarized and conquered, but also known when to heed. Training consistently lets you become increasingly comfortable confronting fear, while simultaneously gaining a greater knowledge and level of abilities.

II. What’s parkour have to do with a zombie apocalypse?

Humans have numerous physical advantages over zombies–training parkour will enhance these natural advantages into tools to consciously use for survival. Following are a few basic reasons parkour training is effective in use against zombies and during an apocalypse:

1. Zombies cannot run or jump, and do not climb adeptly.

Because the zeds cannot follow quickly or pursue in vertical environments, having a strong handle on how and when to run, jump, and climb can mean the difference between escaping safely and kissing life goodbye.

2. Zombies can only attack hand-to-hand.

Zombies must be within reach to attack or infect humans. The ability to quickly distance oneself from an arms-length attack will not only provide temporary safety from the attack, but may also allow for a remote counter-attack.

3. Apocalyptic environments are ragged.

It is unknown how easy transportation will be in any given post-apocalyptic environment. Everything from blockaded streets to cities fallen to rubble can be a reality; knowing and practicing effective, creative movement in any environment will assist in adaptively challenging unknown barriers.

III. When is training utilized?

In any serious or emergency situation, the way you implement your movement will depend on what your goals are. Why are you running? Do you have to run at all? Are you having to sprint quickly back to a vehicle, or do you need to make the best time you can over a stretch of miles? Do you need to drop down from a rooftop or squeeze through a locked gate? Being prepared to use your movement in accordance with your goals is imperative to successful navigation.

Some of the most common reasons for having to navigate terrain are:

It’s simple to imagine when movement may be necessary, but what of the relevant–inevitable–variables? Following are some examples of variables that will affect the ability to move as planned:
Environment — The environment is the first dictator of what movement is possible. Urban spaces are extremely different than natural spaces, which, in themselves, can be infinitely variable: rocky vs. sandy beaches, Northern forests vs. tropical forests, canyons vs. plains, et cetera.
Weather — extreme weather conditions aside, even heavy rain or fog, or even blaring sunlight, can drastically change which techniques will be the safest.
Physical Health — injuries, nourishment, illness, and dehydration will all affect the overall ability to move well.
Stealth — if in a heavily infested area, stealth is of utmost importance; the smallest sound may bring droves of zeds from dozens of meters away.
Burdens — How much gear is being carried? Is it imperative to keep an arm free for weapon use? Is it a rescue mission where another person must be carried to a safe location? Burdens can completely negate certain available paths.

The best way to combat variables is–of course–training. Training should happen in different weather, times of day, environments, various clothing and equipment, and with a plethora of scenarios in mind. All of these things are placed on top of the obvious training of techniques, strength work, and conditioning.

IV. Training

a. Mental Preparation

The discipline was derived through necessity–the spirit of usefulness should constantly be considered. You must be at your best mentally while training because of the focus that is required to improve efficiently and safely. Foreign chemical substances have no place in training parkour. Additionally, consider emotional state and distraction level; daily trials affect our minds and cause stress, including money, relationships, family, education, and responsibilities, so it is up to you to take extra care during training when under-performing mentally.

Whenever possible, train with a clear, focused mind, because anything less could contain serious risk.

Additionally, attitude is a mark of mental status; are you approaching you training positively today? Are you striving for yourself, to be strong for your family and community, or to be better than someone else? What are your goals, what about this day’s training is important to you? You should always know: Why do you train, and why are you training today?

b. Physical Preparation

i. Body: How are you feeling? Proper rest is as important as proper training. It’s fine to train on sore muscles, but not injured ones. This is where many find fault. Training when an injury is not entirely healed will result in the area becoming weaker, and perhaps never healing fully. Pay attention to physical signals, whether pain is felt because you’ve worked hard, or if something is strained or sprained. Additionally, training with too little sleep is potentially dangerous. When possible, remain well-fed and rested, and be prepared to slow down when necessary. Parkour will always exist, it’s up to you to make sure you can meet it with your body.

ii. Equipment: Everything from shoes and attire to packed gear must be considered. Any snag points or hanging hindrances should be locked down tight, including any attachments that may be compromising in a situation requiring stealth. What do you have in your pockets; will you have to train around your cell phone, wallet, in a poncho or carrying your weapon? Is something going to fall out when you’re swinging, rolling, finding yourself inverted? How do your shoes react to wet brick, wood panels, painted metal, or tree bark? –Are they tight enough to give you confidence in landings and loose enough to be comfortable? Be familiar with how your body and movement respond to the burdens of your equipment.

c. Environment

If at all possible, be knowledgeable about the environment that must be traversed. For emergency travel, this will ease the completion of a task. For training, an environment can be chosen specifically to fit the desired practice. Be particularly aware of unsteady surfaces, tensile load abilities, surface attributes of obstacles, and natural variables such as precipitation and weather patterns.

V. Conclusion

Parkour is first and foremost a mental endeavor. Above are some general topics to consider as you come into training parkour. This introduction is not a definitive list of what parkour training looks like–indeed, it is but a surface skim of various elements that come into play when utilizing parkour as a survival tool. Though anyone can learn techniques to aid them in navigating terrain using only their bodies, training parkour takes many dedicated hours over the span of years to truly learn proficiency. Beyond even the abilities of the body to sustain this kind of training, it is up to the mind–the will and spirit–to follow through. Consider this as you move forward; for every warrior who trains in fight, it is also necessary to intimately know flight.

The idea is to live, and to train until you can live without thinking about these things.

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