In the short time that I have been training I have heard the question “What is a good background to have before starting Parkour?” many times. The obvious answer is “It doesn’t matter. “ Parkour is first and foremost a method of training to overcome obstacles in one’s path. (1) It has never required anything other than a person willing to push themselves to do things that society may have deemed unacceptable. That is one of the most wonderful things about the discipline. However, their may be some activities that natrully help with Parkour.
There will never be a need
for additional training to be a good traceur. There are many people that only train by doing Parkour and are great at it. Some would even argue that it is redundant to train for training. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with practicing other sports, disciplines, training techniques, etc. to get better at Parkour. If Parkour is designed to create functional strength that fulfills the ethos “etre forte, etre utile” why stop at Parkour?
In general, cross training is beneficial to the human body. According to the AMMA journal “[training] variations trigger new neuro-muscular adaptations or, in other words, new pathways from the brain to the muscles.” (2) These new connections allow the muscles to work faster and more efficiently. Cross training also reduces stress on joints and bones by changing the direction and amount of force applied to the bodyThis change of direction can be good to facilitate recovery. Runners, for example, use cross training to stay in shape after an injury. According to Runners World Magazine when you get injured “cross-training comes to the rescue in two ways: by helping runners maintain fitness despite being forced to run less or not at all and by correcting the cause of the injury.” (3) (Please remember if you receive an injury to seek medical advice before starting any more training.)
Parkour should increase your success at many activities and the effect works both ways. If playing basketball increases your vertical jump and stamina, which translates well to Parkour, why wouldn’t practicing Parkour, something that also increases your vertical jump and stamina, make you a better basketball player?
Many traceurs come from various backgrounds. Billy Hughes of the Tribe has a competitive diving background which makes his flips spectacular. Many have wished they had the upper body strength Tim ‘Livewire’ Sheiff gained from his break dancing experience. Dylan Baker has amazing skills on a slackline. Ryan Doyle has Martial Arts experience and ‘Frosti’ Zernow has taken up rock climbing to increase upper body strength for American Ninja Warrior.
Even David Belle practiced Kung Fu. This was not necessarily to better his Parkour but I’m sure the two activities were mutually beneficial to each other. On top of that Traceurs all over the world are using weight training to better prepare their bodies for the physically demanding portions of Parkour.
Consider what exactly you are trying to improve when doing Parkour. Parkour Generations’ Dan Edwards says “Parkour aims to develop … the critical elements of coordination, body control, agility, strength, balance, spatial awareness, accuracy, timing, speed, rhythm and the sensitivity which comes from practice, all of which are core to overall functional fitness.”(4) Many sports can improve these things. In my opinion there are few, if any; activities better at developing all of these attributes simultaneously than Parkour but, that isn’t to say other sports would not be useful in enhancing these attributes. Ozzi the founder of Hawaii Parkour says this about the subject “anything that challenges your body in any way will definitely help you, not only in Parkour but many other aspects of your life.”
As I mentioned earlier there are Martial Artists, break dancers, competitive divers, rock climbers, and slackliners. There are also weight lifters, yogis, runners, soccer players, gymnasts, and even basketball players who practice Parkour. Most of which would say that their sports background helped them in some way.
Over the next year I will cross train in some complementary sport/discipline for one to two months. At the beginning of every new sport I will write an article giving an overview of the sport, what it should help increase, my workout plan, baseline measurements, and goals that I will try to achieve during my time practicing. My goals will be based on increasing my proficiency in Parkour skills and foci (using the American Parkour definition) as well as my “usefulness” in life.
After I complete the allotted time for each activity I will write a follow-up post about how it helped me, whether or not I achieved my goals, variations I took in the training routine I laid out, final thoughts and anecdotal evidence which I will attempt to keep as scientific as possible. In addition to all this I will also detail how, in my opinion, Parkour training helped with that activity.
Note: I have always believed that Parkour is a personal discipline. I cannot tell you how to train and am not trying to get you to sign up for gymnastics classes. Nobody has Parkour training down to an exact science. There are good and bad things about every school of thought. In the case of cross training, American Parkour and PK Generations both support Cross Training to some degree. (5) Again this is one path and you don’t have to believe in its validity or results, just as I don’t have to be held back by views about the usefulness of other activities to train for Parkour.
I expect to have an activity picked and goals posted by Friday!
Please discuss. What do you think about my plan? Am I full of crap or do you think that my idea has merit? Any suggestions about what I should train first or later? Be as specific as you want. I would love to see some quality discussion.
(5) Edwards, Dan. "Off The Wall - Articles | Parkour Generations." Off The Wall - Articles | Parkour Generations. Parkour Generations, n.d.
Web. 13 June 2012. <http://www.parkourgenerations.com/article/wall>;.
(4) Edwards, Dan. "Parkour as Functional Fitness." Parkour as Functional Fitness - Articles | Parkour Generations. Parkour Generations,
n.d. Web. 13 June 2012. <http://www.parkourgenerations.com/article/parkour-functional-fitness-through-movement>;.
(3) Fitzgerald, Matt. "Eight Benefits Of Cross-Training." Runners World Aug. 2004: n. pag. Www.runnersworld.com
. Web. 13 June 2012.
(2) Krause, Paul. "The Benifits of Cross-Training." AAMA Journal (2009)
Attachments and other options: n. pag. Web. 13 June 2012. <http://www.ttmg.net/sites/default/files/Cross-
(1) Toorock, Mark. "What Is Parkour?" American Parkour. N.p., 12 Oct. 2009. Web. 13 June 2012.