Parkour involves strength, agility, quickness and grace. Precision jumping is a fundamental parkour move that encompasses all of those traits. I first learned of precision jumps when I was beginning parkour this past winter and I’ve been practicing them ever since.
As the name implies, this skill is about leaping onto a small target (often a ledge or rail) with the utmost accuracy. Precision jumps are typically performed from a stationary position, with both feet together during the take off and the landing.
You can precision jump between two points of equal height, from high to low or from low to high. Jumping from a lower surface to a higher one will make it harder to cover long distances, while jumping down will allow you to cover a greater distance (though downward precisions can be harder to control).
Remember there are no set parameters in parkour; the idea is to work with what you’ve got in front of you. Don’t feel confined by so-called “rules.”
Precision Jumping Technique
To get the most distance out of your precision jump, lean forward from your ankles while reaching your arms up and away from your body. Once you are in the air, bring your legs up to get as much height as you can. More height means more distance!
Keep your eye on your target and remember to sink into the landing like you were performing a squat – this will help you absorb the impact. For this reason it is common to land towards the balls of your feet. Your objective should be to have as quiet of a landing as possible.
Precision jumping, like most things, is about your mental state as much as it is about physical fitness. It can be scary to attempt a long jump (especially if you are high up!), and if you psyche yourself out, you probably won’t make it. It is best to begin practicing with distances that you can cover without any hesitation.
Watch the video below for more:
When I met Betsy last October, it had been a while since she had last worked out. As a former varsity tennis player, however, she was able to jump back in quickly, immediately becoming one of my most committed and consistent clients.
During the months that we trained together, Betsy made significant progress in her strength, endurance and agility. When she left NYC for California in February, we felt optimistic that she could continue building on the foundation we created.
Betsy recently got word that I was going to be in San Francisco for a wedding this week and she made sure to get a workout in with me. I was excited for the chance to see her and equally excited to see that she’s still got it! Betsy has been working hard and staying fit.
After seeing my blog posts about my own parkour training, Betsy had become curious to try it herself. We explored some parks in the area and worked on vaulting, precision jumping and handstands.
At first Betsy was a bit apprehensive, but with a little practice she quickly loosened up and started to get the hang of it. This is often the case when starting out. Parkour is as much psychological as it is physical – the challenge is more often in the mind.
Watch the video below to see how it went:
I am a big proponent of working out on the road and my recent visit to San Francisco gave me a great opportunity to practice my parkour moves in a new setting.
There’s nothing like a new city to help invigorate your workout!
San Francisco is a beautiful place with lots of parks and other places to practice vaulting, rail walking and the human flag (as well as other moves) and I had a blast finding places to try them out.
The San Francisco police department wasn’t always cooperative about me turning their city into my playground, but they were more polite about shutting me down than the NYPD tends to be when they’ve brought a stop to my playtime.
In spite of the man trying to keep me down, I still managed to get a lot of exercise and have a lot of fun. Check out the video below to see some highlights.
Vaulting is a technique used to hurdle an object (often with a running start). Unlike a track and field hurdle, however, you use your arms when you perform a vault.
There are countless variations on the basic vault (one arm, two arms, 360 degree turns, etc) but the idea remains the same – get your body over a sturdy object quickly and efficiently.
Another great thing about an exercise like this one is that you can always find places to practice. You can vault over rails, tables, fences and even cars. There are no constraints in parkour so get creative and try vaulting over anything and everything as many different ways as you can.
How to Vault
To perform a vault, place your hand(s) on the object as you begin jumping over it. You should feel your weight shift from your legs into your hand(s) as your feet come off the ground. When you are learning, put your foot on the bar to spot yourself as you go over the bar if you need to. Start with lower objects and build up to challenging yourself by attempting to vault higher ones. This exercise can be a great confidence booster once you start getting comfortable with it.
Watch the video below for more:
Photos by Felipe Passolas
A few months back, I started learning some beginner parkour moves, such as precision jumps and underbars. I’ve been practicing a lot since then and I recently began incorporating some more difficult moves into my repertoire, like cat jumps and rail walking.
Cat jumps involve jumping up onto an obstacle like a fence or a wall that is too tall to climb. When the traceur (a parkour practitioner) is separated from an obstacle by a body of water or other uncrossable terrain, a cat jump becomes a necessary skill. For practice, however, it’s okay to cat jump without clearing any hurdles. After cat jumping onto an object, it is typical to continue climbing the rest of the object or to push off and reverse direction.
Rail walking is a balance challenge that involves walking across a narrow bar or rail. It’s best to practice this on a relatively low surface, so that if you lose your footing, you can safely jump down.
My parkour mentor, Rick Seedman, has also given me a new variation on the basic underbar – the 360 degree underbar, a fun “spin” on the basic move that involves rotating your body as you pass in between two parallel bars.
In addition to these new challenges, I’ve continued practicing the fundamentals; my precision jumping is getting better, although it’s still a work in progress!
Watch the video below for more!
I am a big proponent of personal training–not just for my clients–but for myself, too!
I’m always eager to learn new ways to exercise and have fun, so when my friend Rick Seedman of the Bar-barians offered to teach me about parkour, I jumped at the chance. (Literally!)
Parkour comes from a French word meaning “obstacle course.” Basically, it involves navigating an urban landscape with quickness, efficiency and grace. As Rick says, “Parkour is about expressing yourself through movement.”
Parkour training is playful and less structured than most formal types of exercise, but there are a few basic moves that all traceurs (that’s what parkour practitioners like to be called) should be comfortable with.
One key aspect of parkour is precision jumping. Just like the name implies, this movement involves jumping and landing (often onto or off of an object) with the utmost precision–something I am still working on!
An underbar involves passing between a narrow, horizontal opening by jumping through the obstacle and landing on the other side. The most common situations to use underbars are passing through rails, trees, or scaffolding.
Rolling is used primarily to spread the impact of a jump throughout your body (so you don’t take it all in your knees and ankles). Rolling also allows for a smooth transition into the next movement.