Parkour Generations in New York
For everyone who couldn’t make it out to NY last week for PKGen’s visit…you missed out big time! Dan Edwardes, Stephane Vigroux, Chris Keighley, and Julie Angel came over from the UK for an open training day in Central Park. Over 80 traceurs showed from all over the US and Canada, Ohio drove up a van full of 10 guys, Ottawa made a showing, and I flew all the way from Seattle to be there.
The day started with a brief introduction and a jump straight into the “warmup” (warmup and warmdown are codenames for heavy conditioning in PKGen apparently). We jogged, did a lot of Quadrupedal Movement, a bunch of jumping exercises, some interesting QM variations (sideways monkeys are great), and a large amount of push up variations. Everything was done very dynamically with just a few small rests in between. To say that it was challenging is a huge understatement, we basically got our asses kicked…
From there we went through some precision basics from Stephane and went through a challenging follow the leader course. After some jamming around the huge rocks of Central Park we broke up into groups and headed out for more specific movement training.
Unfortunately the park was not prepared at all for us to be there, and we kept getting kicked out of everywhere we went after about 30 minutes (the warmup itself ended up having to be done in three different locations). That didn’t stop us however, and we ended up training well into the night, probably about 7 or 8 hours total.
All in all it was an amazing (and tiring) day with a great deal of information absorbed. Some of the Parkour Generations guys have been training hard for over 20 years as well as teaching countless numbers of students and they didn’t hold back any of that experience in teaching us or answering our questions. I’d like to thank them personally for emphasizing conditioning the body for the basics first and foremost, and raising the bar for the intensity of conditioning needed. If you want to still be practicing parkour in ten years time, you need to listen to experienced traceurs like these and focus on strengthening your body as you are progressing through the various techniques (and Don’t Be Dumb).
A friend and I recently had the opportunity to travel to New York to take part in the Parkour Generations meet. It was a phenomenal experience. I can’t say enough about Chris, Dan, and Stephane. Not only are they some the most knowledgeable and skilled traceurs that I have ever had the pleasure of training with (which isn’t surprising), but they are also some of the best teachers that I have come across. Things were (for the most part) fairly dry with the temperature sitting at around 5 degrees, I don’t think I could have asked for better winter conditions. Traceurs from all across the United States (some coming from as far as Texas and Seattle) took part in the day’s training with the two of us being the only Canadians present (as far as I know). I’m told that there were more than 60 people who made it out, which I’m sure made for an interesting spectacle for those we passed by in Central Park.
Things got started right away with a brutal “warm-up” (a.k.a. hardcore conditioning) led by Chris Keighley. We were introduced to some of the Parkour Generations conditioning staples including 3 variations of side-ways monkey and a push-up routine in the mud that got my arms shaking. Throughout the day I learned a tremendous amount about what it truly means to condition ones body. All of the exercises they showed us were dynamic and practical, and to say I was sore the next day would be an understatement. I will definitely be incorporating not only these exercises but also this dynamic conditioning philosophy into my own training regime.
After our “warm-up,” Stephane Vigroux took over and led the entire group through some interesting precision and roll drills aimed at improving our awareness of our own technique. Afterwards Stephane led us on a huge game of follow the leader which saw us moving over fences, across rock outcroppings and through the trees. After following Stephane we spent an hour or so working on various techniques with all three traceurs followed by some time in smaller groups training in several locations around Central Park. During this more technical training, all the guys emphasized that rather than only training a single moment over and over, that one should also find a way to link 4 or 5 movements into a fluid series. Repeating this series until you feel comfortable with the route and can complete it quickly and fluidly helps to not only develop the individual movements in the series, but also to trains the much neglected transition from one move to the next. Repetition (hundreds if not thousands of times) was stressed (especially by Stephane) as the cornerstone of effective technical training. These are the biggest lessons I walked away with without mentioning the countless tips and pointers I gathered through observation and questioning.
We broke for lunch and then reconvened for some more conditioning and some buildering on a stone structure discovered in the middle of the park. We “warmed-down” with an intense abdominal routine and stretch and than had a chance to sit down and talk with the guys from Parkour Generations. There were a lot of insightful questions and insightful answers and I picked up many more idea for training before we said our good-byes and caught our bus back to Ottawa.
During the seven hours I spent training among some of the world’s most disciplined traceurs, I learned more about what it means to train parkour than I have in almost 2 years of tracing. If any of you have the opportunity to ever travel to the UK (to train) or go to attend one of their meets I would certainly suggest that you take it. This trip has been a huge inspiration to me and I hope to train with Parkour Generations again sometime in the future.