Good parkour training will go some way to helping you reach your true potential and you will come to realize that your limits are far beyond what you could ever imagine. – Dan Edwardes
For my second parkour-specific book review, I take a peek at Dan Edwarde’s “The Parkour and Freerunning Handbook.” If you’re unfamiliar with Dan, he is the co-founder of Parkour Generations, as well as the co-creator of the A.D.A.P.T. and Parkour Fitness Specialist certifications.
What does that mean?
He doesn’t just teach people parkour. He founded an organization that teaches others how to teach parkour.
That’s a serious credential.
So, about the book: It’s a thin little volume, weighing in at 144 pages. Yet, don’t let the size fool you. Within the pages you’ll find a solid primer on the skills needed to get started in parkour.
One of the main things that really stands out is that Dan covers both the mental and philosophical framework for parkour, alongside the physical. For instance, after identifying running, jumping, climbing, and balancing as foundations, he singles out stealth and touch/sensitivity as two more skills that need cultivation. He goes on to mention how parkour is a transformative practice, in which you hone your inner self through targeted effort. And, my favorite part is that he includes enjoyment as just as important as exercise, rest, and proper nutrition for one’s overall well being. To take it a step further, the last page of the book has the heading “Philosophy and physicality”.
How cool is that?
He sounds like the type of guy we’d all want to hang out with, and his passion for the discipline captures why parkour is so popular.
Another aspect that I really appreciate is the discussion of the need to “forge your body” through specific conditioning. That’s the purpose of this Parkour Conditioning website, so his emphasis on toughening your tissues and building “body armor” out of your muscle really resonates.
Moving beyond the first chapter, the book dives into movement skills. There are three pages devoted to landing, with solid advice for injury avoidance.
Following that he instructs everything from rolls, standing jumps, running jumps, balancing, vaults, mounts, wall runs, drops, laches, and underbars. What we know as “cat leaps”, he refers to as “arm jumps”, and yes, they are highlighted as well.
Now, I consider myself an aficionado of exercise illustrations. Maybe it’s an attempt to reconnect with the picture books of my childhood? Perhaps it’s a natural interest for someone who prescribes exercise for a living?
Regardless of my reasons, I was excited to find that Dan uses illustrations to describe movements in the final tutorial section. On an image or two you have to squint your eyes to understand what is being shown, but the pictures are a unique addition and add style over regular photos.
Aside from the skills taught in the middle of the book, the tutorial section includes more complicated drills like the “Corkscrew Pop-up”, “Turn Vault” and “360 Tic Tac”.
It’s enough of a teaser that you are left with desire to start exploring more advanced skills on your own.
Bottom line: The book achieves what it states in its title — it’s a solid handbook for those looking to get acquainted with parkour/freerunning. With basic movements and a sampling of more advanced skills, it’s a well-written and easy to follow resource to help you get on your way.
Did I mention it’s super affordable?
At only $10 on Amazon.com, you’d better clear some space on your bookshelf for this gem!