Reflections | Sports

July 30, 2007

Growing Up (and Old) With Parkour

What does it mean to take up a sport as it enters its adolescence?

Alex Tilney

Not too long ago, in a playground near my house, I stood 10 yards away from a three-foot-high metal fence. I was preparing to do my first kong vault outside a tumbling gym. I had done this almost a hundred times on the padded mats, but now I stalled. I made an attempt to run at the fence and stopped.

To do a kong vault, you run up to an obstacle, spring forward, set your hands on top of the obstacle just outside shoulder width, and tuck your legs to your chest. As your feet start to come between your hands, you push off over the obstacle and land on the other side. I was comfortable doing vaults that sent my legs to the side—I had been hopping fences like that ever since I was a kid. But here is the terrifying question about the kong vault: What if you don't tuck your legs enough and you clip your toes on the top of the obstacle? With all your momentum going forward and your arms by your sides, it would be like getting pushed off the fourth rung of a step-ladder with your hands in your pockets.

But there was grass on the other side of the fence, so I told myself that even if I took the worst fall imaginable I still couldn't injure myself too badly. I ran up, I sprang, I planted my hands, I let go, and there I was on the other side, running forward and still in one piece. I had just done one of the most basic, risk-free moves in parkour, but I raised my arms in triumph. I went back and did 30 more kong vaults exactly the same way, two little girls on the playground next to me screaming and laughing as I did every one.

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- Reflections
- posted on Aug 05, 07

Hey i loved this article, you did a really good job depictinting this amazing idea, becasue it is an i dea, basically find your own path. I personally, pratcie, unfortunalty there are no big citys near me so i have a limited amount of skill, i was wondering if you have found a video, or ther group you pratice with could make a video on how to perform each of the neccisary moves, because i have erally noone that is any much more expirenced than i am, so if you could email me, and if you have a instant messenger address could you send me that in an email too? Thanks much

- Reflections
- posted on Aug 06, 07

AT-a thoughtful article that gracefully interweaves the historical and the personal...awesome.

- Reflections
- posted on Mar 21, 08

Hi, fantatsic article. Funny, thoughtful, fascinating, personal and inspirational. I'm 34 and have just started to tailor my weight training and workouts towards getting into parkour seriously. Articles like this are what have inspired me in the first place...stick in there and best o' luck ;)

- Reflections
- posted on Aug 14, 08
- Reflections
- posted on Oct 09, 08
- Reflections
- posted on Feb 02, 10

hey this is a good article. its the first thing I've read recently that has more than 20 words, haha. I'm a devoted traceur and I will never stop practicing

Article by Alex Tilney

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