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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

cineparkour

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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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: http://www.we-trace.at/2015/07/22/nightclimbersofcambridge/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Starrett: Becoming a supple Leopard

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This one was recommended to me by a friend (gimbalninja.com – 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.

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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

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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.
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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)
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  • Carlos López Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett: Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within (amazon release in May 2016)
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  • the translated versions of the Methode naturelle books by Philippe Til
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Check out the previous part for a quick overview of what happened on day 1 of RDVX!

The day to come would be quite a long and exhausting one. We would start 09:00 in the morning and, including the extra modules, would end at around 22:00. After an unpleseant situation in 2009 in Vauxhall and some light training sessions there in 2013/2014 I was anxious and looking forwardat the same time to train at the place again, as the Vauxhall walls are one of the worlds most famous Parkour spot ever.

 

Day 2 (Saturday) – Locations: Vauxhall (various areas) + The Chainstore (evening modules)

Session 1 – Forrest / Yann Hnautra

After a slight warm up led by Blane and a split into 4 groups our first session was with Forrest and Yann at a small spot right next to the Thames. The session was split into 2 parts, first part with Yann and then a switch over to Forrest. It was my first time ever getting into a session led by Yann so I was excited and given the high level of the advanced group I was a little anxious to deliver my best. Now, imagine Yann furiosly demonstrating a small route consisting of 4-5 (rather complex) moves, including rolls, palm spins, rolls on the backs on walls and so on, ending with a set of push ups and then expecting us to repeat. The group couldn´t go all at once due to limited space but as soon as the majority of the group was done, Yann would shoot off demonstrating the next round. No need to say I struggled. First off, I could not really remember / reproduce the routes Yann did, secondly by the time I did my push ups, Yann was in demonstration mode again. Surprisingly some of the guys could keep up. This went on for 20 minutes until Yann gathered the group around and explained what the purpose of his session was. So no matter if we got the route right or we would bump into each other, each repetition at any given time and situation should be done with 100% dedication and 100%willpower (if that makes sense). I guess he supposedly tried to put some stress on us and see how we react. Anyway, hearing Yann explaining was inspiring even though he labelled our group as average overall.

Forrest was already awaiting us with a nice challenge. We did rail precisions as a group at the same time, from a wall to a long rail and were given the task to stick all of them and  precision back to the starting wall. If one fell it was ok to catch oneself on the rail, come back up and continue as long as no one touches the floor. If that happened we would all be awarded 30 small jumps (burning out our quads) and would then continue. The core message of the exercise was a question: If we are 100% physically capable of sticking a rather easy rail precision, why shouldn´t we be able to stick all of them, every time and whenever? After the exercise we wer challenged with a variety of different rail precisions that we could choose of (see the picture that Thiago from Brazil drew). Aiming on sticking them again.

thames pres

Session 2 – Blake Evitt / Jiho Kim (PKGen U.S. / PKGen Korea)

After a quick spot change we rotated to Jiho and Blake for a fun partner throwing session. We were shown 3 techniques of throwing partners and by doing so giving them a higher potencial for overcoming distances than if they just jumped on their own. The most recogniseable one and in my opinion the one that worked best was the 2 person slingshot method. Imagine being in a squat position leaning back, reaching out with with your hands to 2 people roughly your weight and size. You lean forward – JUMP and receive a massive pull that carries you farther than you could have ever jumped alone. Combine that with armjumps and precisioning up walls and thats it. Ideally though you have a nicely light guy/girl jumping and 2 strong people throwing, thats basically how we levitated Hector over a small wall to a 12 foot precision jump!

 

Session 3 – Adam McClellan(*) / Andy Keller (PKGen U.S)

Taking place at the main Vauxhall walls spot and being the first session after lunch break we started with a nicely weird warm up game. Movement through the space with the limitation of using your hands and feet in certain combinations only. For example after using your hand next thing to be used has to be a foot and so forth. The game was spiced up when we were teamed up in pairs and groups of 3 moving like the Parkour version of the human centipede. 😉

The next part of the session was really innovative and something I would like to keep in memory for my own coaching.

We were split into groups of 3 and could choose anywhere at the spot. We should work out a set of 3 movements and repeat unti we got it nice and flowy. After that 2 people of the group rotated to an other station and the remaining one would show the 2 new people that formed a new group the route that was previously developed. Practice time a few minutes and another rotation. This time the person that showed the new people the route had to rotate to an other station and would be shown a new route and so on. The concept is brilliant. Develop a route, teach it someone else and be tought a new route with new movements you would not have thought of on your own. Simple yet effective, and great fun.

Session 4 – Mikkel Thiesen / Mirko Svabric (Streetmovement Denmark / Parkour Croatia)

So….What do a danish bearded guy and a croatian Parkour veteran have in common? Both of them are beasts and both of them made a nice exhausting session with some good challenges in there. What they did was conceptualise a route around the back part of the Vauxhall walls, including a sketchy 180 cat leap to precision, precisions with high drops right after and probably the only swininging movement to be found in Vauxhall (danish style). The goal was not breaking the jumps though but to repeat the route as fluid and quickly as possible, making the usually longer decisions of slightly trickier jumps come natural with the flow. Some of the movement (the 180 to the wall or the swining move for example) I couldn´t do but overall it was a tiring experience with a high need for focus every time the route was done.

Session 5 – Chris Grant (Glasgow parkour Coaching) / Johann Vigroux

BREAKING JUMPS TIME! Having some really advanced guys in the group Chris and Johann took up the challenge and presented us 5 gnarly jumps we should work on. A 9 “foot” precision over a high gap to a brick wall. Same gap, same brick wall,different spot of the wall, this time doing a cat pass to arm jump. An other one was a precision at height to a small rail of a staircase. The first precision I described came easy but after that the other jumps were all … scary…. I seriously eyed up the cat pass to arm jump. I knew the distance was far but with a clean and nice take of should not be any problem. Long story short, I already saw myself bailing ugly, gave me the chills, too many people around, excuse after excuse, did not do it in the end… The session achieved an anxiety though andmade me seriously consider a jump that clearly was in the upper third of my performance range. To loosen things up we played a quick few rounds of tag before heading off to the Chainstore for the evening modules!

 

Module 1 – Chris Mc Dougall featuring the Vivo Bearfoot Team (Author of “Born to Run” and “Natural Born Heroes”)

I did not know Mc Dougall before but after this presentation I bought “Born to Run” and loved it! Chris introduced himself as a previously unhappy and injury ridden hobby runner who after spending small fortunes on the latest running shoe technology, that did not help him, just could not believe that the doctors adviced him to quit running. Why does running shoe technology advance so much over the years but injury rates amongst runners stay the same if not went up over the last years? These and other questions led Chris on a journey described in “Natural Born Runners”. A key message from his presentation was that it is weird how EVERY sport has techniques how to do certain things but as far as it concerns running “everyone has it´s own style”. The Vivo Barefoot team was present too, and they did video analysis of volunteers and their running styles, analysing frame by frame for example how long the feet touch the ground and how long the full bodyweight was pushing on the joints when jogging. They also performed a set of basic tests, like one footed balance with closed eyes, checking the deep squat position and many more, showing that even amongst Parkour people basic body functionality is not a standard (yeah, yeah, I know about my squat,…no need to get mean about it). Chris did a demo of what he developed as a “correct” running style over the last years, showing a very upright position with a  centered body balance and lifting his feet quite high, all while making very short contact with the floor. Nevertheless, key messages of the presentation were:

  • Running shoe technology is 99% marketing
  • A lot of cushioning is useless and potentially dangerous. For example when people tend to strike their heels when running, something no one would do when there was no cushioning at the heels (see running bare)
  • Our feet are the perfect tools for absorbing impact and shock while running

Generally speaking the presentation and the book both were very entertaining and thought provoking but it has to be said that for every theory there are many counter theories, and I believe it is the same with some of Mc Dougalls statements. The Book for example, follows along something called the endurance running theory arguing that human´s main advantage over any other mammal species is the ability of long distance running and that we evolved into the perfect running machine.

So yeah, great presentation paired with some nice practical examples and me resulting in having an amazing read after my London trip and enjoying running a little more. Thanks a lot Chris!!

 

Module 2 – Andy Pearson / Thomas – Infiltration/Exfiltration (TBW Docks)

I´ll make this a short one. The guys presented us with 3 challenges of getting into certain areas that were not directly accessible. Some were fenced with barbed wire, others were secured by a bridge over water or both. Our job was to scout the situation, evalute access points, assess any risks just by looking and then react to anything ad hog. Additionally Andy threw som curve balls at us in the form of hidden security measures like chalk behind certain bars where we used to grab representing, for example preassure triggers of alarm systems or whatever sensors are out there. It was a fun topic with a serious background. Anyone willing to put himself in the line of risk when entering sealed off areas like construction sites, cranes or private property might overlook many of the dangers that these places hide. Alarm systems being the harmless ones, other ones would be being able to enter a place but not being able to exit it again. After the challenges Thomas gave us a crash course in tactical group movement that he was tought in this time in the french military. Interesting stuff.

 

Module 3 – Kristian Mc Fee – Powerlifting for Parkour

Kristian is a traceur / professional weight lifter and allaround awesome guy. He is currently training in the british talent suqad if I got that right. For an interview about his training experiences check: http://www.powering-through.com/2014/02/interview-kristian-mcphee-talks-gb.html

In his session Kristian introduced us to some weight lifting basics, showed us basic technique and explained us the benefits of each exercise for our Parkour performance all while letting us test the stuff we were talking about with unloaded bars.

 

Module 4 – Blane – Offground Challenges in the Chainstore

Blane showed us 3 stations with a variety of offground challenges. One of the challenges was like a mini Ninja Warrior course AND we had Teige Palmers (Teghead), who actually competed in Ninja Warrior to demo the route for us. It was quite hard consisting of small pieces of wood on ropes to be used as grips, swings on bars and a lot of traversing. It was fun but I was already really really tired.

I was happy when the sessions came to an end and knew the next day would be physical. I got “home” as quick as I could, took a shower, ate something and dropped dead just to get up a few hours later with a worse than ever SERIOUS muscle ache that now had me tortured for a few days already. LET´S DO THIS! -> Check part 3 (and last) for what happened on the final day of RDVX!

About 10 years ago the first so called Rendezvous (an annual Parkour workshop event featuring some of THE best coaches in the discipline) was held in a tiny gym somewhere in London. Amongst the 30 participants were legends like Yann Hnautra, Forrest Mahop, Dan Edwardes, Daniel Illabaca, Stephane Vigroux, Kazuma, Owen Covill, and so many more that I can’t recognise on that video.

 

August 2015: After having spent some days training in London already, muscles slightly aching, I was finding myself in the Chainstore waiting for the official opening of RDVX. It was great catching up with a lot of people again that I got to know back in 2013/2014. In fact there were too many to have a serious conversation with as every minute new people came droppping into the Chainstore. Amongst them were so many great characters that at some point I just sat there breathing in the awesomeness that gathered for what would become an intense 3 days. All the international PKGen branches were present and some additional international coaches from Brazil, Korea, the U.S., Germany, Scottland, etc. as well. Special guests included Yann Hnautra, Stephane Vigroux, Johann Vigroux, Thomas Couetdic and Christopher Mc Dougall (author of Born to Run, and Natural Born Heroes).

 

It was my first time seeing Yann and Stephane and I was excited to hear they were coaching. The procedure so thoroughly planned by Blane would be similar for the 3 days to come. The ~150 participants would be split into smaller groups depending on their experience and/or energy level. The groups get a session of coaching (usually 1 hour) and the rotate to the next coaching team. For day 1 (as it was an optional day, main seminar would be the next 2 days) people were split into beginners, intermediates and advanced. I did not feel too sure of where I belong as many of the PKGen core team members + some really good guys from abroad were actually participating themselves, thus making quite the hell of an advanced group. But I chose this one and was more comfortable with the idea of downgrading than not having tried to get along with the level. Physically I felt comfortable, but technically these guys were a few dimensions away from me.

 

Day 1 (Friday) – Location: Chainstore and areas around

Session 1 – Adam McClellan (PKGen U.S.)

After a short warm up by Dan Edwardes Adam´s session was my first RDVX session. And it can be briefly described as “jump/sprint/jump/sprint jump somer more and sprint some(correction: a lot) more”. Followed by some jumps and QM movement instead of sprinting. The thing was, everyone could push themselves as hard as they chose to. After sticking a certain precision one was awarded by a (roughly) 60metre sprint and then came back to the same precision (basically). Stickig precisions after sprints is a good one, though we had some rest period as we waited in line for our turn. Overall it was a solid session that tired us out and gave me an idea of how smooth Yann was in moving QM style. (he was participating)

 

Session 2 – Ben Scheffler (Parkour One)

After a session packed with short term power outbursts over a long periode of time Ben had another kind of endurance challenge for us. He showed us a route that mostly consisted of jogging and included around 15 Parkour movements (a wallrun wth climb up, a demi tour, a cat pass next to a drop, an underbar, a palm spin, rolls etc etc.). We would repeat the route steadily without stopping running for 30 minutes, choosing our own speed. 1 lap took me around 4 minutes I think. The challenge was great and I found my pace. Doing these challenges makes one realise how energy consumptive certain types of movement are and teaches one how to be more energy efficient overall. I really liked the session, and it was my first time talking with Ben whom I had scarcely met at a badly organised Parkour workshop in Germany in 2007 (I think).

 

Session 3 (and last for day 1) – Stephane Vigroux

This was the only session that day that was in the Chainstore and I was looking forward to finally getting coached by Stephane. I was not disappointed. We were offered to choose a rail precision somewhere in the Chainstore that was well in our comfort zone. The goal was to do at least 50 repetitions and try to stick as many of them as possible. Something awesome happened. After having a success rate of <10% with my first 30 tries I got so comfortable and close with the jump that in the end I nearly sticked every one of them, no bad landings, no mid foot. Stephane´s goal was to get us into the zone and get us to a state of mind where the jump just became natural, something I think he achieved (at least with me). After these precisions we did a 15 minute balancing session on the rails. Similar feeling, similar goal. Keep balancing on a rail without falling for 15 minutes (or 30, or 60).

 

In part 2 I´ll cover the second day of RDVX, including 5 really creative sessions and 4 amazing (optional) modules in the evening. Day 2 went from 9:00 to 22:00 making it about 10 hours of pure training.