The Ultimate Parkour Tutorial for Beginners
This parkour tutorial for beginners aims to teach you the parkour fundamentals.
It includes a basic parkour moves list with pictures, top parkour tips, and some parkour facts.
- What is Parkour?
- Where to Practice Parkour
- Parkour Exercises for Conditioning
- How to Catwalk for Parkour Movement and Conditioning
- How to do Side Sapiens
- How to do Parkour Ground Kongs
- Parkour Roll Landing
- Forward Parkour Roll
- Side Parkour Roll
- Back Parkour Roll
- Parkour Dive Roll
- Parkour Jumping Techniques
- Parkour Precision Jumping
- Running Precision Jumps
- How to do Parkour Striding
- Parkour Vaults for Beginners
- How to do the Parkour Safety Vault
- How to do the Parkour Lazy Vault
- How to Parkour Kong Vault
- How to Parkour Wall Run
- How to Wall Run Vertically
- How to do the Parkour Wall Climb
- How to Tic Tac and Horizontal Wall Run
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Parkour Tutorial for Beginners
What is Parkour?
A standard parkour definition is:
“An activity where you move from one point to another as fast as possible.”
While doing this you can use parkour techniques to negotiate obstacles including running, jumping, climbing, and more.
Where to Practice Parkour
You can learn how to practice parkour at home, in the park, in a parkour training gym, etc.
In fact, you can go parkouring anywhere there are structures to practice your parkour skills on. Oh, and as long as the authorities allow it.
Parkour Exercises for Conditioning
Before you can learn parkour tricks for beginners at home you need to develop your parkour muscles.
Conditioning will get you closer to the ideal parkour body type.
The Survival Fitness Plan conditioning exercises are a good start. Do super burpees and pull-ups every day. Pull ups are also one of the best upper body parkour workout exercises. Learn about those exercises here.
Yoga also compliments parkour well. The Survival Fitness Plan yoga stretch is a good parkour yoga routine as it works the whole body. You can find it here.
The best workout routine for parkour depends on what you need to develop in. The hardest parkour moves to do are those which you don’t have the strength. Focus on developing those muscles.
Here are some additional basic parkour core workouts that only use bodyweight so you can do your parkour conditioning at home.
How to Catwalk for Parkour Movement and Conditioning
Catwalking is a form of quadrupedal movement. Quadrupedal movement is the act of moving on all-fours.
Other types of quadrupedal movement include side sapiens and ground kongs. They all have their practical use and also make great conditioning exercises.
The catwalk is useful when having to traverse across thin surfaces such as ledges and rails. They are also useful to get through or under small areas. It gives you more balance and control on the obstacle and also lowers your profile. This makes it great for escape and evasion.
Start by getting down on your hands (flat palms) and feet. Put your right hand in front of your left hand, and your left foot in front of your right foot.
Your hands and feet form a line and as you move forward, you want to maintain this line as close as possible.
When first starting it will help to follow an actual line on the ground. When you are on a ledge or rail you will have little choice.
To move forward first move your rear hand to the front, then your rear foot to the front. Repeat this. Start with small steps. Transfer your weight between your arm and legs — front and back, left and right.
For stability, keep three points of contact on the surface at all times.
Once you have gained the coordination of movement concentrate on perfecting your posture. Make yourself as level as possible from your hips to your head.
Keep your back horizontal to the ground and your head forward.
Don’t stretch yourself out, bring your knees too close to your body, or stick your bum out.
When you need a rest, crouch. Do not put your knees on the ground.
Progress further and work different muscles by cat-walking in different ways. Backward, up and down stairs, getting low, on ledges, on rails, etc.
How to do Side Sapiens
Side Sapiens (a.k.a. side monkeys) are good to displace momentum when landing from a drop or to continue flow into your next movement. They are also a good progression step when learning the reverse vault.
Start in a low squat position.
Reach your arms out across your body to your left and plant them firm on the ground. Your right-hand lands first closely followed by your left.
Keep your arms strong and use them to support your body weight as you bring your legs to your left. Your right foot lands first closely followed by your left so you are back in the low squat position.
Engage your core and land with control. Land light with your feet and as quiet as you can.
Repeat this movement a few times and then go back the other way.
This is also good to practice on ledges and rails.
For more of a challenge, you can do this exercise with straight legs.
How to do Parkour Ground Kongs
Ground Kongs are another type of quadrupedal movement. They are a progression to the kong vault but are also practical in their own right. Use the ground kong to displace momentum from a drop and/or to continue flow into your next movement.
Start in a low squat position.
Reach forward and plant both your hands on the ground.
Keep your arms strong and use them to support your body weight as you bring your legs up to your hands (or as close as you can).
Engage your core and land with control. Light and quiet is the key.
Repeat this movement a few times.
When you are confident practice on ledges and rails.
You can also do ground kongs backward which will target a different set of muscles.
Parkour Roll Landing
The parkour safety roll is one of the best parkour moves to learn for safety. It is also useful in self defense.
Use the safety roll to prevent injury from a technique gone wrong, a big drop, a general fall, or if someone pushes you. It is also a good technique for transitioning between movements.
Your aim should be to make your safety roll instinctive. This is because the times you will need it most are those when you are not ready.
How high can a parkour roll save you?
Landing with a well-executed parkour roll will allow you to jump from higher than without, but how high depends on your training.
As a beginner, start small and work your way up. If you start with something half your height, you can work your way up to 2x your height within a few months.
This tutorial will teach you how to do a parkour roll without hurting yourself.
You can do the parkour safety roll forwards, sideways, or backward. You will use the forward roll most often but practice them all.
When first learning how to do a safety roll, do so on soft ground such as on grass, mats, or sand. Take it slow and start low. Once you have the technique you can progress by increasing height and/or momentum.
Gymnastic mats work well for this kind of thing. You can compare the best safety mats for training here.
When you are confident, you can learn how to do a parkour roll on concrete. If you are get parkour roll shoulder pain, take a rest from the concrete for a few days.
Forward Parkour Roll
Choose which side you are most comfortable rolling over, right or left. You want to learn to roll on both sides, but for now, start on one.
If rolling over your right shoulder, kneel with your right foot forward.
Place your hands on the ground in front of you so that your thumbs and index fingers form a kind of diamond shape. Put them at a 45º angle in the direction you want to roll in.
Note: You can roll straight over your shoulder if you have something in your hands. When you have your hands available, it is preferable to use them to help control your motion. They also absorb some impact.
Look over your left shoulder and use your rear leg to push you over into the roll. Use your hands to control your momentum and your arms to lift you a little. You want to land on the back of your shoulder blade. Try not to hit the top of your shoulder.
Roll across your back to your opposite hip. If you roll wrong (which is common when first learning) you will feel it. It is a learning curve.
Come up from your roll between your tail and hip bones. Use the side of your leg and your momentum to get back on your feet.
You could also come straight up to your feet as opposed to using your thigh. This saves your knee contacting the ground but puts more pressure on your ankle as you stand.
As you get more confident start from taller positions such as squatting and standing.
A good exercise is to stand straight and let your body fall forward like a plank.
At the last moment roll out. You can do this with side and back rolls also.
Also, progress to rolling with momentum and with jumps.
When jumping into the roll keep your legs flexed as you land and allow the momentum to push you into the roll.
Once you are confident, you can jump and roll from ledges. Work your way up to this with both confidence and strength. You need to increase the strength in your legs to do bigger and bigger drops.
As you increase height and speed, it will help to land with your feet closer together. Also, be more adaptable with your arms.
Note: Dropping into a roll is not the same as a dive roll. When dropping from height your feet still make contact first.
Side Parkour Roll
Side rolls are good for preventing injury when falling in a weird direction.
This parkour technique is like a forward roll except that you will roll at a more horizontal angle across your back. The exact rolling path also depends on the angle you are falling at.
As you fall use your hands to help control your movement. Ensure you clear your arm/shoulder and land somewhere on your back.
Use the momentum to create as smooth a roll as possible and then come back onto your feet.
Back Parkour Roll
When first learning backward safety rolls it helps to do the forward roll first. Do the forward roll and stop before getting to your feet, then roll back using the same line as you rolled forward on.
Roll forward and back a few times to get the feeling.
When ready you can back roll and come up to stand. At the end of your back roll continue to go over your shoulder.
Use your hands to push yourself up a little so you can get on your feet.
When back rolling from a drop always try to absorb the impact with your legs as much as possible.
Landing with one foot in behind the other will make going into the roll much easier.
Lower yourself down as much as possible and then go into the roll.
It is important to practice rolling until it is an instinctive reaction and then to continue to practice them with all variations (jumping, momentum, both sides of the body, landing at different angles, etc.).
Parkour Dive Roll
I consider dive rolls an advanced parkour technique but they are a good skill to know for safety.
Use the dive roll in parkour or self-defense to prevent injury when coming down on your head. In most cases, dive rolls are intentional. Such as when diving over an obstacle. You can also use it in accidental falls where you are low to the ground and don’t have the room to land feet first.
Note: If possible, landing feet first and doing a safety roll is your best option.
Ensure you are proficient at the safety roll before continuing with this dive roll tutorial.
Avoid doing the parkour dive roll on hard ground, even when proficient.
The technique for doing the dive roll is like the forward roll but there is a lot more impact and momentum. Also, you are coming doing toward your head as opposed to landing on your feet first.
Start by practicing the forward roll from a handstand. You don’t need to be great at handstands, you only have to get at the right angle for a moment so you can go into the roll.
Lower yourself with your arms then lean forward a little to tuck your head as you go into the roll.
Keep your body strong (arms, core, legs, and neck) as you allow your body to “collapse” into the roll.
Once you are comfortable, you can jump into the dive roll from a standing position.
Kick your leg back as you jump to help get your hips over.
As you hit the ground absorb some impact with your arms. Do this by keeping them strong whilst allowing them to collapse. Also, use your arms to ensure you get over your head.
Next, try it with a short run-up, and then try jumping off with two feet.
Progress until you are doing a full dive roll. Dive and stretch out like a cat.
Tuck your head as you go into the roll.
Train at this level until you have it instinctive. Progress by jumping higher and over things.
When jumping over things ensure your hips clear the obstacle and your legs/feet follow the same path.
Parkour Jumping Techniques
Parkour Precision Jumping
Precision jumping is a fundamental parkour skill in which you jump from one point to another. It allows you to land on small spaces like ledges and handrails.
You want to land right on your intended landing spot. There is no extra movement such as stumbling forward or backward.
Begin with your feet together and bend your knees a little so you are in a semi-crouch position.
Move your arms behind you as you shift your weight to the balls of your feet.
Lean forward. The greater the distance you need to jump, the more you need to lean.
As you jump throw your arms forwards and upwards.
Your energy travels up the legs, through the torso, and into the hands.
Aim to arc up and then come down on to the landing area, landing on the balls of your feet as quiet as you can. Land on both feet simultaneously.
You can also try high to low, to/from rails, etc.
Note: When jumping onto handrails it is extra important that you aim to land on the balls of your feet. This way if you slip a little then you have the whole of your foot to recover. If you land on your heels and slip, you will fall.
Running Precision Jumps
When precision jumping over very large gaps you can use the running precision jump. The running precision jump is what it sounds like, i.e., a precision jump with a run-up.
The running precision jump uses a one-foot take-off. You still land in the same way as a standing precision jump, i.e., a precise double foot landing.
Since you are jumping with much more momentum “sticking” the landing is more difficult. Many people find they jump too far and/or stumble forward when landing.
How to do Parkour Striding
Parkour striding (or bounding) is useful for running across elevated obstacles. It is like precision jumping but instead of a stationary landing, you leap from one foot to another.
Approach the stride like a running precision. Run up and take off from one foot.
As your lead leg lands, you want your center of gravity to be over your foot so you can push off into the next stride. If you are too far forward or back it will mess up your momentum.
It will help to get your arms and leg in sync. It is the same as walking, i.e., whichever foot is in front the opposite arm is also in front.
You can use this arm swing to generate more power. The further the distance between your obstacles the more you should swing your arms.
Parkour Vaults for Beginners
How to do the Parkour Safety Vault
You can use the safety vault to pass a low and short obstacle in front of you such as a waist-height wall. The safety vault is the first vault to learn. This is because it is the easiest to learn and the safest to do.
An easy way to learn the safety vault is by numbering your hands and feet. It will help you remember the order of placement.
- Left hand.
- Right leg.
- Left leg.
- Right hand.
Take it slow at the start. Get the pattern into your head, and then into your muscle memory.
Approach the obstacle and place your left hand (#1) on it. Next place your right leg (#2). Stretch it out far enough to allow your left leg (#3) to pass through between your left hand and right leg.
Here is what it looks like from the front.
Practice on both sides of your body.
When you add speed your #1 leg doesn’t have to push off that much. It becomes a touch on top of the obstacle so you can gauge where it is.
As you run up to the obstacle, be sure not to stop to prepare for the vault. Stride onto it and go up and over the object in an arc.
Land with your chest above or in front of your foot. Also, use your #1 and #2 to push the object behind you so you get more forward momentum. At the same time reach with your #3 leg down to the floor.
How to do the Parkour Lazy Vault
The lazy vault is useful when approaching a small to medium sized obstacle at an angle. You can approach at any speed.
You can also use it when coming in and out at a similar angle and when you want to exit at a different angle.
Assuming you are approaching the obstacle from the right, your limbs will go over the wall in this order:
- Right hand.
- Right leg.
- Left leg.
- Left hand.
This first progression step will help you get the mechanics of the technique.
Approach the wall on a diagonal from the right and place your right hand (#1) on the wall as you jump up. Your right leg (#2) goes through and you land on the wall with your left foot (#3).
Drop to the ground landing on your right foot first (#2) and then continue to run.
Here it is from behind.
Once you are ready, you can learn the actual lazy vault which means you will not place your left foot (#3) on the wall.
Kick your legs up, over the wall, and then bring your hips up.
As you go over your left hand (#4) replaces your right on the obstacle.
Use your left hand to help push your hips away from the obstacle so you can continue running.
A “proper” lazy vault means you approach on an angle and exit along the same path. Ensure your limbs go over in the right order and that you land/run out on #2.
If you want to exit at a different angle, turn your hips in the direction you want to go while in the air.
If you are exiting at a different angle without meaning to, it may be because you are forgetting to put your #4 hand down.
How to Parkour Kong Vault
The kong vault is useful for vaulting longer or higher obstacles. It is more difficult than other vaults but is worth the practice.
Other names for the kong vault include the cat pass, monkey vault, kong leap, and others.
Start on something like a picnic table, i.e., wide enough to land on but not too high, and small enough to vault over.
This first progression exercise is helpful to get over the fear of hitting your toes on the obstacle.
Stand at one end of the obstacle and place your palms flat on it a little more than shoulder-width apart. Have your fingers facing forwards.
Repeat this exercise until you are comfortable with the mechanics.
Let the momentum help you get further onto the obstacle.
To get even further, you can run up with more momentum using one of 2 take-offs depending on the obstacle.
First, try the 2-foot punch take off which most people find easier. It will redirect momentum up which makes it better for high obstacles.
Use the momentum to go into a dive onto the obstacle then complete the vault as normal.
Next, try the split foot take off. The split foot takeoff has more forward momentum than the two-foot punch takeoff. This makes it better for longer obstacles.
Complete the vault as before.
Try to get further and further until you can clear the obstacle.
To get more distance increase your approach speed and use the split foot take off.
Spot where you want your hands to land and then push up and forward as your arms make contact.
Land on 2 feet to begin with and then progress into landing in a one-two motion so you can resume running.
Once you are comfortable, try the kong vault on higher and/or longer obstacles. Be sure to use the right take-off, i.e., 2-foot punch for higher and split foot for longer.
How to Parkour Wall Run
Here you will learn 2 types of wall runs.
The first is how to run up a wall. This will also include the parkour climb up.
The second is how to wall run sideways.
How to Wall Run Vertically
If you want to know how to climb a high wall, parkour has you covered.
To practice the vertical wall run you can use any obstacle that is tall enough. You don’t have to reach the top of the wall to practice. If you can reach the top of the wall, it means you can also practice your wall climb (or other techniques) at the same time.
To begin with, you need to get the right spacing with your steps when approaching the obstacle. After a while this becomes intuitive.
Find a spot where you are comfortable with your leg resting on the obstacle at about hip height. Not too close where you’re pushing in and not too far away from where you are stretching to reach.
Now you can get comfortable stepping a foot onto the obstacle and jumping off it. Don’t worry about gaining height yet.
Use your strong leg against the obstacle first as that is the one that will have the most impact. Afterwards, you can practice on both sides.
As your foot hits the obstacle push into it in an upward motion. The aim is to get your center of gravity to go up. Do not apply too much downward pressure as it will cause you to slip. Run into the obstacle and “bounce” up off it.
Once you are comfortable add speed so you can get more height. Don’t go too fast too soon otherwise you might slam into the obstacle.
When there is a small obstacle you can try grabbing onto the edge. If not, aim to touch it as high as you can, keeping in mind that the higher you go the longer the drop back down.
After some practice, you will recognize how to react according to the obstacle such as approach speed, when to jump, and how high to plant your foot.
Throwing your arms up will give you more reach as will leading with one arm.
Leaving your hand on the obstacle can be useful to give you a little extra push up. It can also prevent you from slamming into it.
How to do the Parkour Wall Climb
You can use the parkour wall climb up to pull yourself from a hanging position up onto a wall in a quick and efficient manner.
When first learning it will help to use the momentum from a cat leap or wall run to help get up the wall. Your aim should be to do it from a static hang.
Start on a wall you can wall run up so you can get the most out of momentum.
As soon as you have a grip on the obstacle use your feet to push your hips back as you pull up and in with your arms. Push your feet into the obstacle, not down. Try to straighten your highest leg.
Your leg push and arm pull is one smooth motion. The aim is to get your chest above the top of the obstacle.
Using the momentum from the push/pull, take the weight off your hands and ‘pop’ them on top of the obstacle. Your aim is to get your palms on top.
The more you can push against the obstacle and the more momentum you have the easier it will be.
Once your hands are on top, push up. Keep your chest forward so you don’t fall back.
To make things a little easier you can transition one arm at a time. Progress to doing them together when you’re ready.
To stand on the obstacle use one of your feet to kick out a little so you can bring your other foot up on top.
Avoid using your elbows and knees to help you.
Once you can do the parkour wall climb up from a wall run, try doing it from a static hang. Push your body against the obstacle a little to help pop your hips back.
As your legs swing back in, place one foot on the wall and then get your other leg as high as possible. This will allow you to transition into the wall climb.
Correct technique is what will get you on top of an obstacle but having more strength will make it easier. Some useful exercises to help build strength are:
- Dips. Do them with your hands in front of your chest as opposed to being out to your sides. This will mimic the climb-up.
- Pull ups. Standard pull-ups. Not chin-ups.
- Reverse climb-ups. Start from on top of the wall and lower yourself down by reversing the climb-up action. Do it slow.
- SFP Super-burpees. The ultimate all-round conditioning exercise.
- Traversing. Hang off an obstacle and climb around it.
How to Tic Tac and Horizontal Wall Run
Now you can use parkour for running up a wall. Next you will learn how to wall run horizontally.
A tic-tac is when you push your foot off an obstacle in an angled direction. It is a simple parkour technique which you can use for a few things. It can help you clear gaps, leap over obstacles, gain height, or for a quick redirection of your momentum.
A horizontal wall run is a progression of the tic-tac. It is when you take several steps along the wall as opposed to only one.
To begin with, get used to how the obstacle feels under your foot. Walk up to the obstacle and place your foot on it. Now push off in a slight upward manner so you arc back onto the ground. Whichever foot your push off with land on your opposite foot first and then continue to walk away.
You can focus your tic-tac to push away or along the obstacle. Face your chest and shoulders towards the destination you want to go.
Next add momentum and try to get more distance and/or height.
The more momentum you have the harder you can push off the wall and the higher and/or farther you will get. Also, the higher you place your foot on the obstacle the more lift and distance you will achieve.
Once you are confident, you can do it over objects.
Concentrate on your foot placement so you can get enough leverage off the wall to clear the object.
Then try with more steps. This is where the tic-tac turns into the horizontal wall run.
Approach at a smaller angle between you and the wall.
You can also use the tic-tac to help overcome higher obstacles.
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Beginners Parkour Sport Tutorial Conclusion
I hope this parkour article is enough to get you started. Once you master these basic techniques you can move onto more advanced parkour moves.
If you need more visual guidance, I recommend watching parkour videos on YouTube. Ronnie Street Stunts tutorials are where I started off, but there are many to choose from.
It is also a good idea to join a parkour group in your home town. Training with other parkour enthusiasts will push you to improve, give you hands on guidance, and is safer than training alone. Not to mention all the friends you will make.
After a while you may also want to get into freerunning. This is the more “showy” version which uses parkour flips and other techniques. Perhaps you can post your best parkour tricks on YouTube yourself one day.
Happy parkour training!
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