“I don’t like this rail”

“I don’t like this rail.”

“This wall has a bad grip.”

“The branch has too much moss on it.”

This type of statement has become much too often heard in the Parkour community. Not that it would matter significantly to me but for the fact that I hear it in myself.

Look at this fence:


I hate this type of fences. They are never stable and always bend beneath you if you try to vault them. How often do you train around and on such fences? Rarely? Me too. And guess what: it bothers me.

The fact is that traceurs nowadays often become quite anthropomorphic in their approach to training. They try to alter their environment instead of adapting themselves to it (parkour parks are a perfect example). I see it when I go out to train with my friends: there is a constant search for spots. For places that are “good” to do Parkour on. And it is completely crazy how ignorant we have become towards this attitude. It’s a completely normal course of action!

Why I think such an approach is bad:

1. It presupposes a sort of way that you’re supposed to train

As if there is a certain, limited number of moves you can execute and you just need to find the right place to execute them on. A regular vault is a regular vault, but it’s a vault where you use the whole (or the most) of your palms and you have a stable obstacle underneath you.

Well guess what: the real world doesn’t function like that.

If you’re running away from somebody, there will not be much time to lament the shakiness and the lack of stability and room for your hands. You will either vault it or not, and your training will be the decisive factor in this. So why not prepare for it?

Of course that you first learn to vault on something stable that has a nice grip, like this:


But that’s beginner level vaulting. When you master this, you don’t even have, like, 25/100 in your skill score, you’re still a novice. Which leads me to…

2. It doesn’t challenge you to progress towards realistic goals

Okay, you master the beginner level vault. There are two ways of continuing (not exclusive): you can either try to perfect all the possible variations on the beginner level wall, honing your technique, your landing, doing twists and turns, rolling over the wall and so on. Or, you can proceed to train on higher level obstacles, such as fucked-up fences that can’t even support your weight, or those spiky ones that you can’t grab at all.

Both approaches are necessary. But the majority of traceurs I know never deliberately seek higher level obstacles. They drill their vaults and variations on easy obstacles, and frankly, it looks quite esthetically pleasing. But it’s a one sided approach. They may develop their muscle coordination greatly by doing that, but they miss out on a lot by neglecting the other part. In fact, they genuinely avoid this type of obstacles as if it’s not good to train on them. And by doing so, they revel in their mastery of easy vaults, forgetting that, when they first started, these easy vaults were both scary and uncomfortable. And just that had made them progress. If you’re never scared or uncomfortable, you should ask yourself the following question: “Am I doing everything necessary to progress?”

More often than not, the answer will be no.

So I challenge you, reader, to find the worst, most bendy, shaky, slippery fence there is. Go, and train on it, and master it. I challenge you to do your hangs and climbs on moss-covered, slippery walls, and on walls that are with no grip at all. When you hear yourself thinking and saying that you don’t like an obstacle, make it a habit that now, you MUST train on it.


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