In 2004 I got a first glimpse of parkour. All I had was a name and the fact that it was super cool. Unfortunately that was about it. There was no one anywhere close who could guide me on how to approach it, or how to train. A vast internet research did not even give me a proper definition of what was about to become my new way of life. In entire Austria as I found out around a year after my initial start, there were like 4 other guys doing something similar. After years of trial and error, slow progress and slowly meeting likeminded people we were finally moving forward. But even then the internet (our only source of knowledge) was full of inaccurate and person biased information. I was lucky to have been involved in parkour that early, but still now and with all the experiences I have made, some sources of knowledge that would have probably changed my whole approach to the discipline have remained hidden away. In the minds of people like the Yamakasi, Stephane or David Belle. Until now…

Reading “Breaking the Jump” filled a LOT of knowledge gaps that I had andcontributed towards bringing together many of the unconnected dots in me. It also enriched me with personal stories of the people who developed parkour thus giving me a deeper understanding of the whole discipline and its development and thus, yet another time, deepening my approach to parkour. It makes these people from the first hour also more human. If you know of the incredible feats of any of the Yamakasi for example you just can´t help idolising them. But better understanding where they came from helps one understand how they were able to achieve what they did (and still do).

One of the strengths of Breaking the Jump is the clear timeline of events. Rarely have I been aware of the order of what really went down. Also there is so much background info on nearly all the people involved in the early days of parkour.

Below you will find a more detailed review. Please be aware of potential spoilers. If you have not read the book and you would like to without any spoilers you might not want to continue reading.

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I see you are still with me. Awesome!

One of the things that struck me the most was how biased my own view of parkour was. When Julie writes about how David was perceived due to the TF1 report (click me) for example and how uneven the report displays the roles of the people involved I got a flashback. The TF1 report was the first of its kind I actually saw. Parkour to me was centered around David. Little did I know of the actual Yamakasi at that time and even less about what they had or had not in common. The book mentions a competitive side of parkour being unconciously (or conciously) promoted by David and when I think of my early years I always had the feeling of: “I have to be better than this person or this one” or just having to prove myself in the international parkour world. It was stupid and for me the turning point was a serious injury that if it went unnoticed could have killed me (ruptured spleen). In that sense these whole chapters were a big “Shit I can so relate to that!” – feeling.

Something that also came out quite clear in the book were all the interpersonal tensions and the different viewpoints of the founders. And if you think of all the early internet discussions, these tensions were clearly present in the generations to come after them. From simple arguments to whole different approaches to the discipline. Even today when people talk or argue about parkour or freerunning or l‘art du déplacement such as they are different things, it becomes apparent that what happened back then will probably for ever continue to haunt the discipline.

With all the hardship, all the struggles and the personal challenges that Julie described there was unevenly more positive material to absorb.

The sense of community amongst the early people could be felt. Williams story and how he got into it all was especially touching with domestic violence playing its part. In fact many of the backgrounds were accompanied by some sort of violence or severe struggle that had to be overcome, made them what they are. Parallels can be drawn to some of the best practicioners out there at the moment, whose story might not be known to many people. Once again there was a clear message to be distilled: parkour can be a great great source of mental energy. It is not just about the jumps.

Another very interesting part of the book revolved around Erwan Le Corre, Méthode Naturelle enthusiast and founder of MovNat. I remember doing an interview with him in the days of but little did I know of his amazing story, his determination and what he was up to at that time. Apparently he was part of a “secret clan” of people led by a guy called Don Jean Habrey who would do crazy night time actions in his mission of proving his method of “training”. From breaking into the zoo and mouthfeeding wolves to scaling Paris landmarks.

There are many aspects covered in the book I had never even heard of and that all somehow contributed to where parkour stands right now.

I think Breaking the Jump is a very accurate, warm hearted and easy to relate to documentation of the development and coming of parkour, freerunning, l‘art du déplacement or whatever you chose to name it. For non parkour practiciners it provides a good basis for understanding the background of all the action they encounter in mainstream media.

Thank you to Julie Angel and to everyone involved in this project!



Additional Info: The book cover was shot by Andy Day and features Blane and (not sure if Andy or Stephen) from Parkour Generations. The picture is hanging as a large print on one of the walls in the Chainstore Parkour Academy in London! Breaking the Jump can be bought on Amazon for around 20euros.



Fellow parkour and movement enthusiasts. I am always looking for new (and old) high quality parkour related reads. Since the first book about parkour was published I made it one of my goals to gather parkour related books as I believe it helps my understanding of the discipline and because I justlike reading (old school reading, with books and stuff ).

In a way over all these years the goal has stayed the same but I came to find there are many books out there that I do not consider to be of great quality. So i refined my approach and also reached out to other disciplines in my search for books that potentially can broaden and deepen my understanding of parkour, or just movement in general (not considering for a moment all the great articles, posts and stories to be found online or elsewhere).


The following is my collection so far and if there is anything new and of interest for any of you out there, I have already reached what I wanted with this article.


Julie Angel: Cine Parkour


What can I say. If you have not read it and give just the slightest shit about parkour, its origins and how it developed this is a must. Cine Parkour is the result of Julie Angels Phd thesis. For the first time ever it concentrated a great deal of scientifically processed knowledge about parkour and made it accessible to everyone. Gone were the times where your number 1 source for info about the art was the internet forums or some vague stories told by more experienced traceurs (counting myself in on that one). It also presents the starting point of the scientific exploration of parkour away from classic sports science. Allthough it is dry to read at times I soaked up any bits of info in there and can advise you to do the same.







Vincent Thibault: Parkour and the art du déplacement: Strength, Dignity, Community


I can´t believe how small the book is compared to what I got out of it. It features a very philosophical viewpoint on parkour and covers a lot of what living the discipline means. In my opinion it is very close to the original (Yamakasi, David Belle,..) approach on parkour that is so easily forgotten in our nowadays culture where the focus is solely on the movement itself.  The book (on whose cover we have Bobby G. Smith on a London bouldering mission btw.) is a great benefit to the community. In fact I gave away my first copy of it to someone who I thought would appreciate it and advised him / her to do the same once finished. The person should then write the date of the possession of the book on the first page, along with the name and location and hand it to someone else. I hope the book is somewhere in the world now and eventually finds its way to you 🙂






Dan Edwardes: The Parkour and Freerunning Handbook


It presents a short colorful intro to parkour. A lot of the content is very familiar to advanced traceurs but it is ideal for starters, people with no background in parkour or as a gift to authorities (like we did with our charity jam in Linz).










Vincent Thibault: Parkour & Art du Déplacement: Lessons in practical wisdom


First off: I have not fully read it yet. It was published January 2015 and is an english/french bilingual book. From a first glance it seems great. Adding to the philosophical approach of his first book on parkour Vincent has structured his second book like amodern Book of Five Rings, or a Hagakure. It presents the reader with 90 short chapters / sections each aiming on giving guidance / inspiration on different aspects of parkour. I was amazed to find many quotes from well known practicioners in there as well as I like the feeling of the book overall.








Alexander Huber: Die Angst dein bester Freund (Fear, your best friend)


The so called Huber Buam (the Huber “dudes”) are world famous professional climbers, brothers and pioneers in the climbing world. Alexander Huber is a specialist free clmber and was first in climbing many of the hardest routes out there free-solo (no rope, no partner). In his book he reflects on fear as mechanism of awareness and rightfully claims that despite what fear does for us and our progress we live in a fear avoiding society that has lost touch with itself. Reading the book I felt very close to how Alexander described his relationship with fear and how we as parkour people treat fear and benefit from it.







Bradley Garrett: Explore Everything: Place Hacking the City

explore everything

Explore Everything is the result of a phd thesis on urban exploring (if I remember correctly). It is written in a mixture of academic style and storytelling and features Garretts journey into the UE scene. First London, but also world wide. Filled with pictures and stories of great adventures one easily forgets that these stories are in fact real, that there are people out there seeking to crash the boundries of modern cities and people who do not fear stepping out of their comfort zone in search of the extraordinary. One of the main observations for me while reading the book was the development Garrett described. From simple touristic actions of visiting desolate and abdandoned sites in the beginning to creeping into “live” structures and ultimately exploring one of Londons most secure networks ever (the tube).





Whipplesnaith: The Night Climbers of Cambridge


To me this is more a historic document rather than just a good read. Imagine the 1930s. It is a cold wet night when a group of students decide to take on yet another climbing challenge they set themselves. Mostly their climbing challenges take place on the renowned Cambridge university campus. All they are equipped with is their everyday clothes and maybe a rope (suits, shoes we would consider stiff the least,…). They have a goal but the risk of being caught could feature some uncertain consequences, maybe even get them banned from the uni let alone the potential danger they face during their climbs.. Find my review for more info here:









Kelly Starrett: Becoming a supple Leopard


This one was recommended to me by a friend ( – go visit his site!) and it is the first strength / mobility related book I have taken on (ever). In such it is just awesome. It is well worth the price and can be used to tackle any deficites / little pains or problems or just get more rounded as an athlete overall. It is filled with easy digestable theory that is broken up with practical examples and tests that can be applied to oneself.




John Little: The Warrior Within: The philosophies of Bruce Lee to better understand the orld around you and achieve a rewarding life.


Sooo. Let the “How to be happy for dummies” title not fool you. John was one of Bruce Lees direct disciples and made this book a great effort of explaining Lees philosophy. A lot of the content is of course martial arts related but the philosophical aspect of the book caught my eye. Bruce Lee to me is an exceptional character and  the book got me an authentic glimpse of that mans mindset.








Last on my list is Christopher Mc Dougall: Born to run


Born to run is the story of Christopher Mc Dougall who, injury ridden but with a love for running thought there was something school medicine is not telling us. He went to Mexico in search of a tribe (the Tarahumara / running people) that is characterised by a nearly superhuman ability to running huge distances (literally hundreds of kilometers) in the life threatening environment that is the mexican desert. Running plays a fixed role in the tribes culture and Mc Dougall is trying to get behind the secret of their running. The book is a story and in such it was an awesome read. It also raises some questions and concerns about modern day running culture. That being said the book falls out of line a little because I see it more as a story aimed to be written in an entertaining way  but that does not make its content less valueable to me.







I am aware there are more books that did not get a mention (yet), like Seb Foucan´s Freerunning, the german Tracers Blackbook (good stuff) or some german books on parkour in schools.


June2016 UPDATE: Just finished Julie Angel: Breaking The Jump: The Secret Story of Parkour’s High Flying Rebellion. It´s awesome and I do recommend this to everyone with the slightest interest in parkour history. Check out the full review for more details.


On my current watchlist I have:

  • Ryan Ford, Ben Musholt: Parkour Strength Training: Overcome Obstacles for Fun and Fitness (quite pricy for my taste – 40 euros)
  • Carlos López Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett: Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within (amazon release in May 2016)
  • the translated versions of the Methode naturelle books by Philippe Til

As a long time Parkour practicioner and passionate reader I am always looking for good movement related books. Interesting material on whatever subject, be it climbing, urban exploration, survival,… and of course Parkour. The following article is a short review of The Night Climbers of Cambridge. If anyone has any recommendations for me on what I could read please let me know on the Facebook page or via e-mail (


Written in the 1930s by a Cambridge (UK) student under the pseudonym Whipplesnaith, the Night Climbers of Cambridge is best described as a mixture of urban bouldering / free climbing history and the philosophy behind it. The book has become a classic in urban climbing literature (if there is such a thing) and when I stumbled across it looking for interesting movement related reads it instantly caught my eye.


Imagine the 1930s. It is a cold wet night when a group of students decide to take on yet another climbing challenge they set themselves. Mostly their climbing challenges take place on the renowned Cambridge university campus. All they are equipped with is their everyday clothes and maybe a rope (suits, shoes we would consider stiff the least,…). They have a goal but the risk of being caught could feature some uncertain consequences, maybe even get them banned from the uni let alone the potential danger they face during their climbs.


But I still would not consider them daredevils, I would say quite the opposite is the case and in many of the authors descriptions and views on things I could greatly identify a mindset that people involved in Parkour have as well. Especially the climbers relation to fear, potential danger and how they deal with it.




In one of the first chapters Whipplesnaith (real name: Noel H. Symington) explains that nearly every undergraduate in Cambridge used to “illegally” climb the college´s fences in an attempt to reenter the campus after closing hours. By doing so they avoided the monetary fine they would have had to pay and the anger from the porters.


BUT: “Usually he has been told of an easy way in: ´An absolute cinch, any fool can do it!´ but when the time comes he finds it somewhat fearful. Twelve feet of easy drain pipe is not so easy when he is eight feet from the ground. He hesitates, and keeps looking round to see if a proctor is coming to catch him and send him down from Cambridge to his weeping parents. At last, the ordeal ended, he finds himself in college, not quite sure whether to be proud or ashamed of himself. … He has had his first taste of night climbing.

Most students would end their excursion of “night climbing” there but a handful got interested and wanted to do more. One of the major obstacles Noel describes is the inability to start. Many people would think “I always meant to do something like that myself, but somehow did nothing about it.

Any similarities to Parkour? So what does Noel have to throw at people thinking that way?: “Do something about it, now. There must be hundreds of men throughout the university who feel that it is a sport they would like, and who lose it only through failure to make a start. … Do something definite; make arrangements to go out on the first fine night. By fine is meant any night when it is not raining;… .Find, if possible, a man with experience, however little, of night climbing, and ask him to take you out. If you know none, then take another beginner like yourself, and start together.

And there you go. Noel just wrote the beginners tutorial for how to start Parkour or any sport I guess. In the 30s! He continues by mentioning how to conquer the fear of heights and that night climbing should be approached (like anything else) by going from easy to hard, first seeking easy routes and then gradually increasing difficulty over time. This sounds like common sense but then again think of all the people doing these immensely huge drops in their first months of Parkour.


In the following chapters basic techniques are explained. From climbing drain pipes to using “chimneys” (- two walls in a distance to each other so people can push themselves with their backs and feet against the wall and stay stable), the techniques are adapted to the possibilities provided by the campus architecture. Whip


The book is filled with a lot of pictures of climbers in action, great quotes and stories about the nightly adventures, including a chase around the rooftops of the city with the police.


The only drawback / turn off for me was the meticulus description of climbing routes. Because I have no idea about the places the author talks about it was hard to imagine the routes and the problems he described. This should in no means though be a reason for not reading the book, it is great! And consider that for quite some time the public had no access to it as it was hidden away and not published until it was reprinted in the 50s and then 2007. So for me getting an affordable copy of The Night Climbers of Cambridge is a privilege that should be acknowledged.


If you know any other interesting reads just let me know, I am always on the lookout for new material.