Seattle Parkour Summit 2012

I had the great opportunity yesterday to make it up to Seattle to check out Parkour Visions‘ 2012 Parkour Summit.  The 3 hour drive was well worth it, as I got to watch the Invitational Obstacle Course Competition and then later participate in a few of the practicums.  The whole event was 3 days in length, so keep in mind that I was only there for 1/3 of the time.

The Competition

Here is a quick video and a few photos that I shot of the competition:

The competitors lined up to hear the rules.
A huge cat leap by Frosti Zernow at the 2012 Parkour Summit.
Justin Sweeney on one portion of a speed run.

The Practicums

After watching the competition, attendees to the second day of the summit were split into 3 groups: Advanced (> 4 years of training), Intermediate (2-3 years of training), and Beginners.  I joined the Intermediate group, and we rotated through practicums on falling, parkour visioning, and power training.   Here are some of the take-away pointers I recall from each of the instructors:

Rafe Kelley: Ukemi or “The Art of Falling”

  • “It’s the punch you don’t see that knocks you out.”  Meaning: It’s critical to spot the ground during a fall, to avoid smacking your head. We practiced turning sideways during a backward fall, so that we could see the ground coming and react appropriately.
  • “The ground doesn’t hit you, you hit the ground.”  You are the one who controls how hard of an impact you make with the ground during a fall.  Hard or soft, it’s up to you to determine what sort of a fall you take.
  • Avoid “angles” during a fall: Try to utilize curved surfaces at your waist, back, and arms during a fall, to disperse the impact over a larger area.
  • “Kinetic Chains” during a fall: Rather than having a single point of maximal impact during a fall, use multiple points of impact to spread the force out over time, so there is less risk of injury.  For instance, instead of dropping straight to your shoulder in a side fall, try to strike thigh, pelvis and then upper body sequentially to break up the impact.

Ryan Ford of APEX Movement and Demon Drills: Parkour Vision

  • Ryan had us consider how a sloped obstacle, such as two railings on a wheelchair ramp, can be used to train a movement through a progressively higher elevation.  You can start learning a skill at the bottom of the ramp, and then move higher up the obstacle as your comfort with the skill advances.
  • We also did drills on the sloped rails, working on every imaginable variation of movement through and over the two rails: Over-Over, Under-Under, Over-Under, Over-Through, etc.  We mixed it up with varying which body part went first, head or feet, and whether or not certain body parts were allowed to touch the ground or obstacle at all. e.g. “no feet on the second rail.”
  • He had us practice different static and dynamic balance skills on the bars, too:  standing 180 turns, rail squats, cat balance, cat crawling.
  • The main theme was that given a single obstacle, there are always a myriad number of ways to train on it and that you should push yourself out of your normal routine.   Rather than just doing the same move over and over on an obstacle, mix things up and challenge yourself to come up with creative ways to utilize it.

Power training with Rene Scavington of Origins Parkour

  • Power is the amount of force you can generate coupled with the degree of speed you use.
  • Most parkour movements (aside from climbing perhaps) require a high degree of power generation. Think of the force and speed necessary to perform difficult vaults, cat leaps, bounding, or tic tacs.
  • True power training (at >90% maximal effort) shouldn’t be performed more than 1 to 2 times per week.
  • Do 1-2 reps of a power move then give yourself sufficient time to recover.  For example, we worked on static high jumps up stairs, 2 in rapid succession, then rested for at least a minute.
  • The session on power training was also integrated with how you can give effective feedback to your training partner.  Instead of offering a critique of 4 or 5 things to work on after a movement attempt, just focus on one piece of advice.  “Chest up.”  “More speed.” “You’ve got it.” If too much information is provided, your partner can’t piece it all together fast enough to make any noticeable improvement.

My only regret with attending the 2012 Summit was that I was only there for one day.  It was great learning from instructors and getting to watch the pro athletes in action. Thank you Parkour Visions!

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