Thursday, May 31, 2012

Things I learned in my parkour class:

Kipping pull-ups. Some may say this is a ‘cheater’ version of pull-ups, but parkour is about being efficient. Kipping involves bending one’s body and driving the knees in order to not only get up to the bar more quickly, but also to be able to do about twice as many pull-ups as one could do from dead hang.

Push-ups. I learned to do push-ups with my elbows in. It’s actually a bit harder, but more useful for the movements in parkour.

Squats. I learned exactly how to keep my body straight. We were instructed to hold a light bar of some sort above our heads to keep form. The hips are supposed to come just below the knees.

Butt kicks. Small, quick steps, to stretch the front of the thighs.

Toe touches. Bring the leg up straight to touch the opposite hand. The other heel must remain on the ground.

High knees. Quick steps, bringing the knees up to the chest. Done forward, backward and to either side.

Lunges. Same as ever. We also did them backwards. The arms are important for balance when going backwards.

QM side lunges. The hands are placed off to the side. The legs move from one side to the other, stretching all the limbs.

High knees/silent landing. A jump in the air, bringing knees to chest. Landing on the toes, bending knees, and touching the floor between the knees. The goal is to jump high, but land with very little noise.  

Rolls. The roll is diagonal, over one shoulder to the opposite hip. One’s head should never touch the ground. Momentum should be enough to end on one’s feet.

QM (quadrupedal movement). The opposite hand and foot move at the same time. Hips should stay low, back straight.  Palms should be flat and facing forward.

QM gallop. The body is angled about 45 degrees from the direction of travel. The hands and feet move separately, but in a distinct rhythm.

Army crawl. While flat on the floor, the knee comes up to meet the elbow and is repeated on the other side.

Small crawl (I don’t know what to call it). For very tight spaces. Begins at almost a push-up position, the feet then take tiny steps forward while the arms propel the upper body.

Knees to elbows. Begins in a dead hang pull-up position. Bring the knees to the elbows. It is mostly a core exercise, but the arms must help to bring the body more horizontal. The elbows should remain straight.

360 turn. I can’t do this. I can do about 3/4ths of a turn. Beginning with the arms either straight up or out to the side and ending with them in front and horizontal to the floor. When they are above you, they stay for the whole turn. When they are out to they side, they are pulled inward and slightly to the side to help with the spin. Legs should remain straight and not flail.

Handstand. Hands above head, the biceps to ears position. One foot slightly in front of the other. The back foot kicks up as the hands reach the floor. The front foot says until the very end. The point is to balance by using ones fingers. Head touches and walking are added. The body should remain very tight and straight. Don’t forget to breathe.

Somersault. Very similar to handstands, but instead of bending straight, it’s to the side. The back leg kicks strongly and propels the body. Keep the body very tight.

Cat balance. This is like QM on a rail. The opposite hand and foot move together, or one after another. The palm should be over the bar, not just the heel of the hand.

Punch. This is the power jump before a trick or jumping over some obstacle. I have trouble with this unless I don’t think about it at all. The feet remain together, and the body mostly rigid.

Precision. This is a jump with a precise landing on two feet. There is not much to explain, but it isn’t all that easy. One must gauge power to stick the landing.

Step vault. The hands are placed to the side and the opposite foot steps up, the other foot passes between. This can progress until the foot is not needed.

Lazy vault. In this version, usually one starts parallel to the obstacle. The inside leg comes over the obstacle first.

Kong vault. This is a symmetrical vault. The hands reach the obstacle first and the feet move between the hands. The point is to move the hands very quickly.

Tic tac. One runs at a wall at 45 degrees The inside foot pushes off the wall at about hip level, propelling the body at a 45 degree angle away from the wall. It can be done over a low wall or bar. The toe and ball of the foot should be the only thing contacting the wall. And the toe should be pointed upward, or mostly upward. The strength of the push should be up, not out.

Wall run. This is in order to go straight up a wall. The foot should be placed about hip level, again, just the toe and ball of the foot. The push should be mostly up, not out. The hand on the same side as the foot on the wall reaches for the goal. The other hand should be at the chest, in order to stop the body from smashing into the wall. The foot should not remain on the wall long enough to slip.

Plant plyo. This is essentially a kong mixed with a squat. The hands are planted on the box or wall and the feet are brought up to replace them. One stands up entirely, then squats down, and replaces the feet with hands and the feet return to the ground. Repeat.

Wall dips. These are pretty brutal. They’re almost push-ups instead of dips. The hands are planted on the wall and the chest is brought down to them, then back vertical. Repeat. The feet just sort of hang, they shouldn’t have much movement.

Bars. Mostly how to get up on them. There are a few ways. One is the muscle-up. This is a pull-up that is transferred to a support position, with the arms above the bar and perpendicular, supporting the body above the bar. It should be a smooth motion. I can only do a ‘struggle-up’. Another way is to begin by swinging. On the forward swing bring a knee up and hook the leg around the bar. Hopefully, by the back swing, the body is mostly on the bar.

Sloth shuffle. This is a bit like the cat balance, but under the bars. Opposite limbs move together. For a rest, hook the knees and an elbow around the bar.

Underbar. One uses a bar to propel the body over another bar. As one grabs the bar, the knees should tuck and then the feet should go mostly up and also out, leading the body in sort of an arc.

Cat grab. The hands grab the top of the ledge, not just the fingertips. The feet are not symmetrical, one is up at about hip level and the other just below. Arms are straight.

Climb up. From the cat grab position, the higher foot pushes up while the lower one kicks back to raise the hips and give momentum. The hands move from the hang position to more of a push-up position, to get the upper body above the ledge. No knees, or forearms should contact the ledge.

Half cat. Instead of landing in a full cat grab, with the arms above the head, land in a support position and kick a leg back to bring the hips ups and land on the ledge with the feet.

Box jumps. Very simple. Bend the knees, use the arms for momentum by swinging them back and up to jump on the box. Step back down. Repeat.

Palm spin. I have not attempted this on a vertical wall, only a slanted one. Approach the wall at 45 degrees and punch into the trick. The bottom hand faces down and the other one is vertical to it, facing the direction of travel. The knees are tucked and the body is meant to spin over the head and land facing the spot that was punched.

Gap climb/chimney. There are many techniques to get up a space where two walls are fairly close. One is with the right hand and foot on one wall and the left hand and foot on the other. Another is to face one wall and place a foot on each wall, and the back against the wall. Another is similar to the previous one, but grasping the front wall with both hands instead of leaning on the back one. In each variation, one ascends by hopping, mostly.

Front flip. I did not do these, but I learned the prerequisites. The main thing is to bring one’s chest down to meet the knees. The knees are tucked and the hands grab the shins.

Back flip. Again, I didn’t do this. It is actually easier then a front flip, but scarier, they say. The knees are brought up to the chest; this should propel the body backwards.

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