Habits and Styles of Training: Sustainability, not Everyone is Domtomato.

Sustainability, not Everyone is Domtomato.

“Front flip Friday will slowly cripple the community. @domtomato can take big drops all the time because he’s Dom. You are not Dom.” - Callum Powell

Everyone's body is different.

   In the age of the internet it’s easier than ever to fall into the trap of imitation. We’re bombarded by a constant stream of media telling us how we should look, act, and now move, and this is dangerous. Each person has different attributes and abilities that are specific to them. Because of Dominic Tomasso's  years of ice skating, his strong parkour technique, and his Australian heritage, he has the ability to take massive height drops. You’re a different person with different abilities, and totally separate strengths and weak points.

You are not Dominic Tomasso. You probably cannot train like him (If you want knees).

   Because parkour has only been around for a blink of an eye in comparison to many of our sports, very little data has been gathered about different training styles, and how they affect longevity.

On that note, this is what we do know:

   Stretching and mobility, are essential. These two facets of training are often very easily overlooked, especially by younger athletes. Parkour is a lot of muscle compression, and fast extension. We rely on explosive amounts of power to hit big jumps, or massive tricks. This builds an imbalance in our muscles, and leads to shortened and tight muscles. Tight muscles leads to injuries, and not just short term injuries, but chronic injuries, that can plague you throughout your entire jumping career. Almost every kind of imbalance is a negative thing. To help build longevity into your training, you should balance out of the explosive tendencies of parkour with some muscle extension type movements. One excellent example of this is yoga. Yoga focuses on extending, and elongating muscles through slow, and steady movements. This works in counterpart with parkour to help keep our muscles long and limber.

Know Your Body

   With the advent of the internet, it’s easy to see the end results of years of training, without seeing the hard work that goes into it. This can lead to an ill-perceived idea of what the prerequisites for certain movements are, and can easily lead to athletes overextending themselves, and doing movements or skills which they are not ready for. The best way to know if you’re ready to attempt a jump, or a trick is to gauge the failing options. What’s the worst case scenario? Does it involve serious injury, or even death? Probably don’t attempt the move. Only go for things which you are 100% sure that you can fail without risk of injury. Every injury you attain will stick around for much longer than you think, pulled muscles turn into chronic injuries when they happen repeatedly, and that will undoubtedly shorten your career.

Focus on Form over the “Wow-Factor”

   An easy trap for new athletes to fall into is focusing on big and flashy moves, instead of honing in on their Ukemi, Bounce-backs, and Footwork. Having solid basics is essential before attempting any high impact or high difficulty movements. Think of parkour as a house, if you build your house on a weak foundation, but try to build it up as tall as you like, your house is going to collapse. So will your body without a solid foundation of basics. All of the athletes that you see taking massive height drops, doing immense rail-pres, or stomping triple twists outside, have been training for years, and have an excellent foundation of basics. When you see people wrecking themselves in spectacular ways, it’s a reasonable assumption that they haven’t put the time in to work on their technique.

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What does all this mean for you?

   To have a sustainable training style requires knowledge of one's own body. Even though social media can make athletes seem almost superhuman at times, you must realize that it took a long time for them to develop such awareness of their bodies. You may even strive to want to do some of the incredible feats that these athletes have accomplished but you must also understand that it will take time, and that you must enjoy the process of being a beginner to lay the proper foundation for your movement practice. We are not saying that you should not push yourself, or eventually attempt difficult moves, just that you should respect the prerequisites. Don’t mindlessly rush into advanced tricks, find a trusted gym, or community leader, and reach out to them for where the best place to learn in your community is. In some scenarios you may not have access to a community or gym, in these cases we recommend checking out our friends over at https://parkouredu.org/, or if you’re looking for free tutorials you can check out Zoic Nations tutorials by our head coach Andy Taylor!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL39E44E9F482A2844

Best Wishes and Happy Training!

PPK TEAM

Our Top 10 Favorite Parkour Videos

   Here are our staffs favorite picks for parkour videos that are currently out there. There were a lot but we just kept it to 10. Please remember that this is just our personal favorites. If you have any videos that you love, we would love to hear about them :)

  1. Out of Time by Oleg Vorslav

       Starting off our list with an old-school bar classic. Out of Time by Oleg Vorslav is the first video that  comes to mind when people ask me to come up with a ‘timeless’ parkour video. With smooth as water flow, and incredibly high difficulty movements, cooked up with some classic fisheye, and a cool color code this video will always be a go-to.
 

2. Professor Longhair, Big Chief

   This is another one of those classic parkour videos from back in the day. Professor Longhair (Kie Willis) and Big Chief (Phil Doyle) are both currently members of Storm Freerun but at the time this video was released they were both still solo athletes running around the rooftops of the UK. This was a time when parkour was still widely unknown and very poorly received. Even for its time this video displays some very high skilled challenges that most seasoned athletes today would think twice about attempting.  

 

3. Resurgence l Motus x RUN LDN

   This is one of the newer videos on this list because we feel it deserves more recognition. The Motus Projects and RUN LDN worked together on this video to bring you a video filled with game changing challenges in the form of movements like athlete Max Barker’s side-flip rail precision or Luke Stones’ double kong at the iconic IMAX spot in London. There are a few behind the scenes videos that really show the prep work that went into some of these challenges. Sometimes the flashy camera work and editing overshadow the hard work and time that these athletes put into trying to a create such a high level video.

 

4. Emanuel Candid

   This video was recommended by Coach Patrick. It takes place in Germany under a highway, where some of the local community members seemed to have created a scaffolding set up built to train on. In the video there is some very interesting bar work thrown in by athletes such as Jannis Schauer and Mathias Mayer

5. Daniel Ilibaca - Choose not to fall

   This is more of a philosophical video than it is a parkour video, but Danny is someone who back in the day had a major influence on the community at large. In this video he talks about some of the key ideas that parkour instills in its practitioners. He mentions how creativity has been lost in today’s world and how kids nowadays look for instant gratification through video games and such. One of the key quotes that you’ll hear time and time again from this video is, “If you are afraid to fall you fall because you are afraid. Everything is choice.”

 

6. We are Ashigaru

   This video came right at the start of 2018 and was instantly shared around facebook and all other social media platforms. Be prepared however because this is not your average 3-5 minute video. It’s a bit lengthy so only sit down and give it a watch when you have the free time. With a stacked roster of 15 athletes this team video is filled with a diverse set of lines and places that make you feel like you’ve just trained at all of the spots in Germany.

 

7. CP Creating Progress

   Denester has been a very well rounded athlete on the parkour scene for some time now. If you haven’t heard of Denester then you definitely need to check out this video. It has tons of different movements thrown in from big plyos and precisions to some very mental lache challenges. One thing that definitely stands out in this video are some of the dive rolls. Denester is known for his big and technical dive rolls and this video does not fall short of that at all.

 

8. Pkguywithglasses- “No, they never fall off”

   This is one of the more recently released videos on the list, however, it has no problem keeping up with some of the older and more revered videos we’ve linked above. Mathieu is a canadian athlete with a highly technical style of movement. This video is extremely light-hearted and fun, but does not fail in bringing some of the banger lines we’re so used to. If you’re looking for something a bit more goofy while still delivering in both fluidity and power, then this is the one for you.

 

9. Still No Title by Mathias Mayer -

   If you haven’t seen either of the No Title videos then you need to stop reading this now and go watch those and then come back to this one. Just like our We are Ashigaru video this one is a bit lengthy but definitely worth the time spent watching. Mathias Mayer has been known for his unique style and diverse skill set. Mathias has been training for years now and it just goes to show what years of experience can become.

 

10. Roof Culture Asia

   7 Incredible athletes, a handful of groundbreaking filmmakers, and some of the world's tallest skyscrapers set the mood for Roof Culture Asia, a feature length documentary focused on ‘Roof Culture’ pushed to an extreme. In Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul, home to some of the world's tallest buildings Storror once again pushes the limits of parkour, with incredible physical feats at paralyzing heights.


Well that ends our list. We had tons of fun watching videos and putting this together. Look out because one a month we will be doing a top 10 list. 

Thanks!
 

-PPK Philly Team

Air Awareness and Flips in Parkour

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    In the early 1900’s, athletic skills of the indigenous tribes of Africa were seen by French naval officer Georges Hebért. He was amazed by how they were able to move so naturally throughout natures environment. Over the years Hebért developed the fitness regime, known as “The Natural Movement” In the mid 1940’s,  Raymond Belle started to study this method and then passed it on to his son David Belle. Thus started the development of what we know as Parkour today. Basic movements like running, climbing, and jumping were the core of the sport. Boundaries were being pushed, but people's knowledge was incredulously low.  Across the next several years the term parkour continued to represent highly efficient movement designed to get you from point A to point B. The term “Parkour Purist” arose to represent a group of people who believed flips held no value, that they served no purpose within parkour, and that they were useless in the journey of becoming the ultimate effective athlete. Here’s why the ideas and thoughts of said ‘Parkour Purists’ make you less functional as a traceur.

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    Being able to control flips dramatically increases your air awareness. Air awareness, also known as proprioception, is your ability to determine where you are in space while having little to no contact with any objects, and your ability to specifically determine where objects are. Being able to determine where objects are, and where you are in relation to those objects is essential in falling safely. The most efficient way to develop air awareness, is to be off the ground, flipping, jumping, vaulting etc. Being upside down and intentionally moving through all the rotational axes is also beneficial..

    Ukemi, which is essential to air awareness, is the discipline of falling. We’ve mentioned it in several of our articles, and our core curriculum for our summer camp revolves around this often overlooked discipline. Ukemi is the single most important discipline for a well-rounded athlete. If you understand how to fail, then even when nothing goes according to plan you can still get back up and try it again. If you don’t know how to properly bail out of a movement, and it goes wrong, you end up in an incredibly dangerous position, and, to be perfectly clear, you may not make it out uninjured.

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    Air-awareness is needed for an abundance of parkour movements. For example, a lache to precision, in order to land that precision you need to be hyper focused of where your body, particularly your feet are from the moment you throw that bar behind you to the moment you stick the landing. If you don’t have air awareness you may very well fly through the air like a chucked cat the second you release that bar because your brain has no idea what is going on. Learning and practicing flips gives you that air awareness that you require to accomplish laches, large kongs, dive rolls and many more moves safely and efficiently. Not only are flips essential for becoming comfortable and gaining perspective while in the air, they are also a powerful tool when implemented in creative and efficient manners, as long as you can train them safely.

Parkour Shoe Article 2.0

    You may be thinking, have I already read this article? Parkour shoes sounds extremely familiar…

    Well, that’s cause this article is a 2.0, a follow up to a previous article we did on our favorite shoes for parkour.

    Why do a follow up? We’ve found some new favorite shoes, and some of the shoes we highlighted in the previous article, are now out of production! If you want to see our last article you can check it out here:

https://www.ppkphilly.com/gym-community/2017/11/17/what-makes-a-good-parkour-shoe

A quick reminder about what makes a stellar parkour shoe…

  • A good parkour shoe has durable grip that works on a multitude of surfaces. Shoes with foam bottoms are an immediate no, as they will easily slide off of objects.

  • A good parkour shoe is flexible enough to not restrain you. You should be able to easily fold the shoe in half with your hands.

  • A good parkour shoe has enough padding to absorb some impact, while not being so thick that you can’t feel the ground under you.

  • A good parkour shoe is light, a heavy shoe will make it very hard to quickly re-position your feet.

  • A good parkour shoe is breathable. Shoes with little breath-ability will make your feet feel like mini-swamps shortly into your session.

  • A good parkour shoe has a single piece of rubber for the sole. (Again foam bottoms are always a no go.)

  • A good parkour shoe is durable. If your shoe breaks easily, it’s gonna break your bank.

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    Our new number one pick for parkour shoe is the phenomenal Vans Ultra Range-Rapidweld. Recently this shoe has been sweeping the parkour community, it is worn and promoted by many of the Motus Projects athletes and many other elite parkour icons. The first thing you notice about the shoe is the strange, almost cleat-like nubs on the bottom of the shoe. Do not worry about these, while they are strange, they grind down pretty quickly, and when they’re smaller they can actually be a great addition to the already extremely grippy rubber. The next thing that makes these shoes a standout winner is their incredible flexibility. Ultrarange have a super dynamic, and flexible sole, as well as amazing overall mobility. The shoe is constructed from a mesh-like material, which increases breathability, and makes for a lighter shoe overall. Because of the mainly mesh body, you also don’t have to worry about your feet sweating, making this shoe even more comfortable. The only serious complaint we have with this shoe is it seems to have a quite short prime life. After about two to three months you start to see tears forming at the base of the shoe on the side. One notable con about the shoe is its square edges which could lead to a higher chance of rolling an ankle. (you can find them here:https://www.vans.com/shop/womens-ultrarange/ultrarange-mesh-black )

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    Our next highlighted shoe is a pick by coach Patrick, The Strike Movement Chill Pill Transits. The Chill Pill Transits are a compact and lightweight shoe, designed to be effective footwear for nearly every mover. Strike movement has been producing Parkour and movement products for several years now, and their shoes have been steadily improving. The Chill Pill Transits feature a minimum heel raise for even footing and balanced movement. The shoe is incredibly lightweight and features a primarily mesh body, similar to the Vans Ultra Range. The grip is effective on a wide variety of surfaces and lasts for a considerable time. The Chill Pill Transits seem to have moderate padding, but leaning towards a more minimalistic design, similar to shoes like the Puma Cabana Racers, or Onitsuka Tigers. The Chill Pill Transits seem to have outstanding durability. Patrick has been putting them through moderate-heavy usage for about four months, and they are still going strong. (You can find them here:https://strike-mvmnt.com/collections/chill-pill-transit/products/chill-pill-transit-br-phantom-classic-white-c5?variant=6208105742374 )

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    If all else fails you can always get a pair of good o’l Feiyues. They are cheap and have great grip on most surfaces and are perfect for kids since they grow out of their shoes every few months. Everybody works differently, and every athlete has different needs, so don’t take our recommendations as gospel. Find the shoes that work best for you and your training style. Ask your friends what shoes they wear, this is how we found our favorite shoes! Be wary of shoes specifically labeled for parkour, oftentimes these are some of the lowest quality gear you can buy. Historically parkour brands have put out subpar shoes, but this is excitingly starting to change! So be wary of any shoe currently on the market that claims to be a parkour shoe. (You can find them here: : https://www.amazon.com/Tiger-Claw-Feiyue-Martial-Shoes/dp/B0000CDBST/ref=sr_1_3/131-5922570-7534900?ie=UTF8&qid=1528338977&sr=8-3&keywords=feiyue+martial+arts+shoes)

Happy shoe shopping!

Flexibility: Static, Dynamic, and Active Stretching

    Flexibility is a key aspect of being a healthy, and well rounded athletic individual. Without flexibility, not only will your body feel very stiff, you’ll be unable to attempt key aspects of your sport, and you will be highly susceptible to more serious injuries. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), flexibility is defined as "the range of motion of a given joint or group of joints or the level of tissue extensibility that a muscle group possesses." What this means is, flexibility is determined by how large a muscle’s (or group of muscles) range of motion is.There are a plethora of different ways to stretch, and the three main ways to stretch that we will be focusing on in this article are static, dynamic, and active. All of these types of stretching will help you gain flexibility, but they all work differently, and, beyond just being able to bend further, have slightly different effects overall.

 Static Stretch

Static Stretch

    Static stretching is a type of stretching, where you hold poses for 10-30 seconds, and is generally a very deep stretch. Up until recently sport professionals thought that static stretching was the best form of stretching. Static stretching is the most common type of stretching, and is generally what people think of when they think of stretching. Static stretching is generally accepted as good for improving overall flexibility, but has been shown to be less effective when done before strength training, or hard exercise rather than after. It is essential to warm up prior to static stretching in order to prevent injury.

 Dynamic Stretch

Dynamic Stretch

    Dynamic Stretching involves movement and muscular effort for a stretch to occur.  While static stretching takes a muscle to its full length and holds it there for 15 to 60 seconds, a dynamic stretch takes soft tissues to their full length and rather than holding it, after a brief pause of 3 to five seconds, the muscle being stretched contracts and the muscles and tendons exert a force in that lengthened position. By doing this we lengthen the muscle, strengthen it in its new range, and also work on balance and coordination. This type of stretching has been known to increase power and endurance, as well as improve coordination and balance.

 Active Stretching

Active Stretching

    Active stretching involves holding the stretched position with the opposing muscle group. This means actively contracting one muscle group so the other can get a deeper stretch. Active stretching stimulates and prepares muscles for use during exercise. Active stretches not only stretch the muscles and tissues, but prepare the muscles for strenuous usage by activating and warming them up. This in conjunction with dynamic and static stretching will not only improve your parkour training but also your day to day functions in life. Stretching is an essential habit that should be built into any athletes training regime. The sooner one adopts a consistent stretching habit the quicker the athlete will feel more capable in their movement and be less at risk for injuries. However, adopting healthy habits as an athlete is easier said than done, but that is a topic for another article all together.

    Not every type of stretching is ideal for every person, so figuring out what works best for you and what will help you reach your goals is important. Overall, stretching is important because it keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight, which makes certain movements hard and sometimes even impossible to achieve.

 

Developmental Stages and How that Correlates to Learning Parkour.

    When different age groups are learning a physical art, there are different concepts they have to focus on. These concepts are built around their emotional, mental, and physical development. With every discipline comes a different skill set, but for this article, we are going to specifically focus on how different age groups should go about learning parkour.

 Photo By Elias Sell

Photo By Elias Sell

    The first age group to cover is Tots (3 Yrs - 6 Yrs).  Any child younger than three is probably too young to benefit from learning parkour in a traditional class setting, for children 0-3 Yrs, the best learning tool is playing, let them run free and enforce very basic safety rules.  For tots an important focus is fun: if they are having fun, they’ll keep playing, moving, and learning. When telling tots to warm up their elbows they might move their arms at the shoulders, this is because they have not yet fully developed the part of their brain that is associated with fine motor skills and movements. Until they have more control over their fine motor skills tots need to have their bodies guided for them to perform a specific physical action. If tots stop having fun they’ll stop moving, and that’s the worst possible thing for them. They will also need to develop discipline, which will, in turn, propel their learning and their overall success. Just staying in line and waiting their turn is a task at this age, but by encouraging them to stand in line and watch and cheer on their fellow classmates they will learn how to stay engaged even if they are not physically participating at that exact moment. Fear at this age is also a huge factor in their learning and development. Each child has a unique and extreme level of fear. Some children are fearless, some are afraid of not being able to see their moms, others are afraid of what we perceive as minuscule movements. Developing tactics to work with each type of fear is key in helping each child develop a mastery of their bodies and skills.

 Wielding children is an appropriate way to help them overcome their fears.  Photo by Greg Leddy    https://www.philaphotog.com/

Wielding children is an appropriate way to help them overcome their fears.

Photo by Greg Leddy 

https://www.philaphotog.com/

    After our tots, come our Kids (Aged 7-11). At this age, the kids now have a substantial awareness of their bodies and have developed extensive fine motor skills.In some cases, they are very adept and agile with them, in others, less so. Like the tots, kids still need to have a focus on fun in their training, otherwise, they may lose interest in continuing. However, unlike tots, this is a critical time in their emotional development where they need to develop discipline and commitment to help them further their skills.  Along with a rigorous focus on commitment, and overcoming mental barriers, comes a reformed sense of technique and skills. Now is the time that they can start to comprehend the underlying concepts and physics behind each technique they learn. They will also begin to develop a training routine, that involves warm ups and cool downs, taking classes, working on their own, and stretching.

    Next up are the Teens (Aged 12-17). Young teenagers are approaching their peak physical form, and can now start training very hard. At this age, they have matured mentally enough that they can focus on movement and technique for extended periods of time, without direct coach supervision. However, with adolescence comes the need to explore and push boundaries. One of the tallest hurdles for teens isn’t always discipline, it is more often respect for movements that tend to be lacking. They are at a point where most moves are becoming easier and they feel more comfortable with their bodies. When this happens it is also easier to fall into the habit of wanting to show off and push yourself to do more impressive movements. This is when you will get hurt. A major aspect of working with teens is to teach them to respect the movements and themselves. With a respect for the moves and their bodies, they will be less likely to get hurt by showing off or by doing a movement they are not necessarily ready for. Stretching is incredibly important as you go through puberty, if you don’t stretch, you’ll start to build muscle while working out, but your muscle will be tough and inflexible; this will cause issues later in life with mobility and it will be incredibly difficult to regain that flexibility later on in life. At this point, new techniques are still easily learned, and mental barriers are still (relatively) easy to overcome, this is when people should hone in on their skills training, and start to dabble with light strength training.

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    After teens come the ‘Young Adults’ bracket. This is the age range from about 18-30. Once someone has hit this group, they likely have pretty good emotional control and can focus on challenges for long periods of time with ease. They are quite mature and can comprehend concepts behind movements. Strength training can now enter full swing, you can put on all the muscle you want, as long as you’re putting in an equal effort to your stretching and mobility. Skills are still a top focus, but now you are reaching your maximum power, this is the point where you are the strongest and can jump the farthest. This is the time where you can maximize your power and should be going for your max jump. Because this is a wide age range, an 18-year-old may function very differently than a 30-year-old, especially when it comes to recovery times. At this age range you start to see an increase in rehab times, and overall your healing speed will slow down.

    We can now round up the article with the Adult (30+) bracket. At this point, you can absolutely still focus on pushing your skills and developing strength, but you need to be aware of the increasing fragility of your body. You can no longer go for maximum impact care-free and must consider the potential damage you are sustaining. There should be an increased focus on intricacy in movement and on specific techniques to help with longevity. Your bones may not be as strong as your earlier years of training, so take this into account when preparing for high impact movement. Now is the time to focus on technique, relearn some lost skills and start managing how much volume you are incorporating into your routine.

    With every age group comes different strengths, and weaknesses. With the tots, it's important to focus on learning discipline, basic motor skills, and overcoming fear. When it comes to kids, they need to start honing in on their skills and techniques, while continuing to focus on learning discipline, focus, and still head-on battling their fears. Teens can start to strength train in moderation, as long as it’s matched with equal mobility training, teens are also at their peak ability to learn intricate techniques, and skills.  Young adults are at their maximum strength, and can strength train without serious inhibitions, they can jump the farthest they ever will be able too, yet are starting to heal slower. The Adults need to start focusing on more intricate movements, instead of favoring high impact/maximum power jumps. These age ranges and advice are just a general guideline and should be taken with a grain of salt, everyone has a different body and progresses at different rates. Always train the way that's smartest and best for you.

Best,

PPK Team

Parkour Jams V.S Tricking Gatherings... What's the difference?

     Out of the corner of your eye you see a back flip. “PARKOUR!” you yell. The back flipping persons turns to you with a look of disgust on their face. “I’m a tricker. It’s not parkour.” That person could be pretty ticked off, leaving you to wonder what kind of cardinal crime you have just committed. To the casual observer you may not notice the differences between parkour and tricking, but make no mistake, there are plenty of them. Movement arts tend to be rich in culture and tradition, parkour and tricking being no exceptions. In parkour the cultural standard for a group event is a parkour JAM. In tricking, they refer to their large group meetups as gatherings, and they tend to be formatted very differently from parkour jams. The differences between a tricking gathering and a parkour jam, are vastly indicative of the greater differences between the two disciplines as a whole.

 Photo By Elias Sell

Photo By Elias Sell

     A Parkour jam can be a one day or multi day event usually centered around a gym, an outdoor spot, or a build out. There are thousands of parkour jams that happen each year, with some of the more popular ones being, 4TLOM (summer and winter), TIT Jam, and Beast Coast. Parkour jams are often multi-day with lodging provided at the gym, a local campground, or community members humble abodes. Most jams have both an indoor and outdoor component, as well as they travel between multiple outdoor training spots. Because parkour is based around using one's surroundings, and the obstacles around you, jams tend to migrate as they go, moving from spot to spot. Parkour and competition have a complicated relationship,(See our article on the 2017 Airwipp competition here: https://www.ppkphilly.com/global-community/2017/11/13/air-wipp-challenge) some believe it’s the best way to progress the sport, and others believe that competition corrodes at the core values of parkour. Plenty of parkour jams have competition aspects, but (for the most part) they are not the primary focus of the jam.

 Photo by - Elias Sell

Photo by - Elias Sell

     In martial arts tricking, the meetup of choice is referred to as a ‘Gathering’, and while it is similar in many ways, and may even take place in the exact same location as a parkour jam, there are a couple quintessential differences to point out. Often incorporated with gatherings are battles, trickings competition style of choice. As with parkour, tricking has evolved from several other sports over the years, notably: Breakdancing, Gymnastics, and Martial Arts (such as Wushu). The most noticeable influence when it comes to battles is breakdancing, two or more teams/crews will be matched up against each other. To see who can win the emotions of the crowd and the judges by the best stylish, biggest trick or best combo. Usually battles will start off with minimal tricks and progressively get harder throughout the battle while each team tries to one up the other. Gatherings are placed for trickers to come together to showcase their style, learn from other trickers and overall build a community in their area. With nearly every large tricking gathering, there are battles between top level trickers.

 Credits to - Hooked Gathering

Credits to - Hooked Gathering

    Now that we’ve highlighted some of the differences between jams and gatherings, there are plenty of similarities to point out as well! Both tricking and parkour are movement disciplines that are still in the adolescent phase, and have a lot of room to grow.  The direction of the sports are still (relatively) easily influenced , and new moves and combinations are discovered and landed nearly every day. Both of the communities are thoroughly passionate and have developed full cultures surrounding the sports, including magazines and news venues, as well as youtube stars, and professional athletes. Tricking ‘Hooked’ gathering will be on its 5th year running this year, tickets and more information can be found at https://www.hookedgathering.com !

     Tricking and parkour athletes are considered to be some of the strongest and most adept athletes in the world, and as tricking swiftly catches up to gymnastics in raw power, we are going to continue to see more and more insanity thrown all the time. Parkour and tricking can complement each other beautifully as we see in athletes like Zen Shimada, Pasha Petkuns, Dimitri Kyrsandris, and many others. As each of these sports grow they will show us new possibilities with the human body, as we discover what we can truly achieve.

Having A Strong Mind

     Fear is one of those things that you either run from or you run towards. It is either a motivator or a deterrent. Most people nowadays choose to run away from fear and “play it safe” or to be very “comfortable” in their everyday lives. What I mean by “comfortable” are the people who choose to be very risk-averse and run away at the first sign of a situation that makes them feel uneasy or awkward. However, what they should be doing is running towards that fear, running towards that uncomfortable sensation, and trying to systematically break down their fears in order to achieve the great things they want to achieve. If you are someone who is going to be a peak performer in any career in life then you should go towards fear.

 Photo by Elias Sell

Photo by Elias Sell

     One way of approaching fear from a more systematic perspective is by using incremental progressions to break down the cause that is bringing up that fear. From a parkour perspective, if the jump you are trying to achieve is 10ft off the ground and 8ft apart, you would take that same 8ft jump and bring it as low as possible to the ground and try and complete it as perfectly as you can. Once you can see consistency in your technique and power, you would then raise the jump up one foot off the ground, and then two feet off the ground, and then three feet, etc. This is the the way some parkour athletes break down their challenges. This is only one approach to being able to break down and overcome your fears.

     Another approach is being able to try and identify what the worst case scenarios might be and coming up with ways of safely failing and recovering from those scenarios. Parkour Ukemi (The Art of Falling) plays a really important role in someone feeling safer while reacting to a tricky falling scenario. If the practitioner can isolate where the fear is coming from then the appropriate fail or bail out can be practiced to reassure safety of the practitioner, or use pads/spotting in a way that they are sure to remove the fears. However, this in no way guarantees safety of the practitioner but it does minimize all of the individual variables of how, in this case a jump, can go wrong.

 Photo by Greg Leddy 

Photo by Greg Leddy 

      A very different approach of how to overcome fear is knowing that you can do something and zeroing down to the base facts of what you can do and not letting the outside factors manipulate you into being fearful. It’s important to fully know what you are capable of and committing to that 100% while it’s also important to choose your challenges carefully. This is an in depth and very complex concept that may be extremely helpful to some. This concept is something that can be pretty intricate, it is the main way that some high level parkour athletes, such as Brandon Douglass, train so best to get it from the horse's mouth. This method is not for the beginner, we would say.

     Committing to anything that is new and intimidating can be a challenge for sure. Becoming complacent in what we have already achieved can be an inescapable and easy trap to fall into if you let it. So let’s try to look at fear as not something to run from but something to analyze and conquer. By utilizing the approaches to overcoming fear like incremental progressions, analyzing your worst case scenarios, and trusting in your capabilities you actively take a stronger stance on furthering your skills as a practitioner or just in life in general. Let’s all strive to control our fear, not let the fear control us.

Best,
PPK Philly Team


 

Muscle Memory: Essential, yet Dangerous

   You’ve probably heard the term “practice makes perfect” hundreds of times over your life and never thought anything of it; but does practice actually make perfect? Well, it all depends on the practice. If you practice everything consistently and hit all the motions correctly, then yes, practice can make perfect. However, if you practice a motion over and over again incorrectly, then practice not only doesn’t make perfect but also develops bad habits that will be more than twice as hard to fix later. The ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement is called muscle memory. Muscle memory for athletes can be great, but it can also be very detrimental to your progression if not used correctly.

 By Elias Sell

By Elias Sell

   In parkour, we build muscle memory through the repetition of certain skills such as a lazy vault, parkour roll, or climb up. Muscle memory helps us to build on top of these skills and allows us to make them more complex. We rely on muscle memory because without it every single movement would require conscious thought each time to make it impossible to build and increase the difficulty of your movements. However, it is important to know when you are performing a move incorrectly because the consistent incorrect practice can cause your body and muscles to learn the wrong form for those movements which could then lead to a greater chance of injury later on.

 By Elias Sell

By Elias Sell

 

    A good way to know if you are performing a skill incorrectly is to either have a coach present who is knowledgeable about the proper form needed, or you can use online resources such as YouTube or other resources from other companies you trust to give you the information about the proper form. However, this does not solve the issue if you are out by yourself solo training. The solution to this, however, is probably located in your pocket. Your cell phone is a great tool that you can prop up almost anywhere and film yourself moving.  

   When learning a new skill, you should be paying very close attention to how you’re moving. Film your movement, analyze it, have other people watch you and tell you what you did right or wrong, everything you can. Watch videos of people who have the skill down really well, and compare it to yourself. Do they raise their knee a bit higher? Which direction are their hips facing, or where are they looking? Where is their center of gravity? Where is their power coming from? Once you know everything you can about the skill or move that you are trying to learn, then you should try it, and each time, re-analyze what you are doing, and where you can improve. Then try it again several times, each time re-analyzing. Then, you should probably take a break. When you’re tired, you can’t perform to the best of your ability, and that means your movement will start to break down, meaning what you are trying to commit to muscle memory won’t be as good as it could be. Building muscle memory should be a lengthy process before you get it down perfect, and you shouldn’t try to rush it more than you’re able. You want to make your movement as good as you possibly can. Take frequent breaks, come back to your movement, and only when you’re absolutely certain that you have it perfectly should you start drilling it over and over again.

Best,

PPK Philadelphia Desk Team

 

Yoga, and the Importance of Mobility.

Whether you are a peak performing parkour athlete or a beginner with aches and pains in all the wrong places, picking up a yoga practice could be the solution to fixing many of your problems. Parkour is a sport that when practiced, incorporates a fair amount of impact on your muscles and joints. Overtime, like with most sports, this will develop into tight muscles in your legs and hips and lead to various aches and pains. As we age our bodies become less resilient and we need to incorporate a little bit of maintenance into our routine and yoga is the perfect solution for that. Yoga will help improve flexibility, joint stability and help create a more mindful athlete.

    Yoga can greatly help increase flexibility in your hips, hamstrings, and ankles through various different yoga poses. Poses such as Big toe and Downward Facing Dog really help stretch and lengthen the hamstrings and hips. Increased hamstring flexibility will help you reach and be more comfortable going for much bigger challenges. Holding these different yoga poses also helps strengthen joint stability in the ankles and in the knees, which should then make all of your landings feel much stronger and confident. Whether it be a season practitioner or beginner, increased joint stability will make any challenge or skill much more comfortable to attempt. The lower back is also a key area to strengthen because it tends to take a lot of shock from training and tends to be a common problem area for most athletes.

    Yoga introduces the concept of mindfulness which if applied to parkour can help increase the athlete's ability to stay calm when faced with a scary challenge. It does this by trying to deliberately place the person’s attention on their breath as they are going through different yoga poses. If you aren’t familiar with the difficulty of trying to hold a downward dog pose, most people are breathing heavy only a few minutes into the pose. A key element of any athlete is to be able to complete a mentally difficult challenge with the ability to stay calm during that challenge. There are many ways to try and stay calm in any given situation, however, one actionable way to try and calm yourself down is to slow down and deepen your breathing. In an article written by Martin P. Paulus, MD titled The Breathing Conundrum-Interoceptive Sensitivity, he writes how “Altered breathing may be useful as a physiological marker of anxiety as well as a treatment target using interoceptive interventions.” He continues to write that, “ Manipulating breathing opens the possibility for both assessing the significance of specific physiological pathways in anxiety and as a technique to intervene in order to lower anxiety levels.” Which means that you can use your breathing to assess how anxious or nervous you are about a given situation, in this case, a jump or challenge, and use that awareness to slow your breathing to actively try and reduce your anxiety. However, you can not use a technique such as this if you are not simply aware of your breathing at all, which is where yoga can bring that into awareness.

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No matter what level athlete you are it is important to be a well-rounded one. To become a well-rounded athlete you need to be both flexible and strong in your movements and in your mental game. Yoga can help you become physically strong while training your mind to deal with scary and uncomfortable situations. Whether you are lacking flexibility in your movements, concentration, or the ability to slow your breathing and control your fear; practicing yoga will help push you to become a better more rounded athlete.

Best,
PPK Philly Team