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Parkour Movements and Terms: The Complete Guide

It’s hard to define a sport such as Parkour. Some argue it is not at all a sport. Some say it’s meant to be an experience, not discussed or categorized.

Regardless, to expose Parkour to others and teach others we must use terminology. Here is the glossary of Parkour movements and terms.

This is not an exercise in precision but more an aid in understanding and communication. Study this guide, and use it as a framework to develop your skills and stay on track. This is not meant to be studied like a high school exam. Rather, this is a guide that you should be going back to over and over.

GENERAL TERMINOLOGY

Parkour

Parkour is about efficiently moving through your environment. The name was developed by early practitioners to describe the discipline. The term is derived from the french word “le parcours” meaning “the course.”

Freerunning

Originally, the term “freerunning” was conceived as an English translation of the French word “Parkour.” It is widely believed this translation was first heard in a British documentary called Jump London in 2003. The term freerunning has evolved to distinguish a more artistic and creative interpretation of Parkour, where style often trumps efficiency.

Traceur/Traceuse

A practitioner of Parkour. Traceur is a male practitioner and traceuse is a female practitioner.


 

BASIC MOVEMENTS

Rolls (Roulade)

A Parkour roll avoids the centreline of the body and progresses diagonally across the body. Contact is first made with open hands. The shoulders touch the ground next, with contact being made diagonally across the back after that. The opposite hip then makes contact before the feet reconnect with the ground at the end.

A roll can be both forward and backwards, and includes variations such as the side roll and the dive roll. The roll is effective at dispersing energy from significant landings.

Precisions (Saut de précision)

A jump that involves a two-foot take-off. The traceur swings their hands to generate forward momentum, and lands with both feet on the object when the motion stops. Variations include vault precisions in which a vault leads to a precision landing.

Strides

A continuous running leap on a series of obstacles with only one foot touching each obstacle. This is used when the objects are too far apart to walk or run across normally.  




VAULTS (PASSEMENT)

A method over an obstacle that involves the hands.

Safety Vault

This is a vault over an obstacle that involves a widely placed outside foot and both hands to start. The inside hand is lifted while the inside leg or rear leg steps through. A safety vault is simple and is often the first vault young traceurs learn.

Side Vault

A vault over an obstacle where both legs are on the same side of the body. The inside hand must be lifted for the hips to pass over the obstacle. A one handed version of the side vault is often called the speed vault.

Kong Vault (Saut Du Chat or S2C)

A vault where both knees come between the arms. During the kong vault you leap to the obstacle and the feet will be off the ground when contact is made with the hands.
 

Monkey Vault (Saut Du Chat or S2C)

Another vault where both knees come between the arms. During a monkey vault the feet remain on the ground when contact is made with the hands.

Dash Vault

This is a vault where the feet lead the motion. The hands are utilized to push off the obstacle before the landing. You need to use your arms, knee, and jumping leg to get the most height.

Reverse Vault

A vault over an obstacle where the body rotates a full 360 degrees. One hand begins rotated and the other is lifted during the turn. The speed of your rotation should be the same the entire time.
 

Lazy Vault

A vault that is approached in a near-parallel line to the obstacle. The inside hand is placed on the obstacle, and the outside leg is used to start the leap. Finally, the hands are planted on the obstacle as the body clears it.

Thief Vault

This is a similar vault to the lazy vault. However, the inside leg initiates the leap. Again, the hands are planted on the obstacle as the body clears it.

Pop Vault

This is a variation of a normal-style vault. Here, you push off an obstacle in order to vault over higher objects. You can combine this with almost any other vault (pop kong, pop dash, pop side, etc.).  


 

OTHER MOVEMENTS

Wall Run (Passe Muraille)

A run up a tall structure where one foot pushes from the wall to transition from forward momentum into upward momentum. The hands and legs are then typically used to climb onto the structure in a technique termed the “muscle up."

Lache (Laché)

A technique to swing from one object to another. After the first swing, you release from the bar and “fly” to another object, making contact with your hands when reaching the other side.

Underbar (Franchissement)

A technique where the feet lead the motion under a bar. The overhead bar is then grabbed to complete the technique. This is very similar to a dash, but instead of going over an object you are moving underneath it.

Reverse Underbar

This is the same as the technique above, but you lead with your head instead of your feet, with a twist. This is useful for diving over an obstacle before slipping under a bar.

Crane

A mount onto an obstacle with one foot on top and one foot on the side of the obstacle. The hands can be used for balance on top of the obstacle.

Tic-Tac

This is a one-foot push off a wall or obstacle to gain height and reverse direction in order to approach another obstacle or gain more height. The tic-tac is often used to gain enough height to grab an object.

Cat Leap Or Cats (Saut Du Bras)

A technique to catch and hold onto a wall. In this movement, traceurs use their hands to grab the top edge of the wall. The feet provide friction to aid the hold. Just like the wall run, people often use a “muscle up” to climb the wall after the cat grab is done.

Cat Back

This is when you push off a wall when in the cat position. You can do this to another cat on an opposing wall, or to a precision on another obstacle.

Cat Balance

This is a form of quadrupedal balance where both arms and legs are touching the object you are balancing on.

Climb Up/Wall Muscle Up

This is when you pull yourself up from a wall. This movement is most commonly done starting from the “cat” position. You then use your arms and legs to pull yourself over the wall.

Wall Splat

This is when you quickly “land” on a wall. This is similar to a cat grab, but you are not trying to hold onto the wall. The point of this movement is to absorb the forward impact then drop down.

Hip Catch

This is a catch movement using your midsection/hips on a bar or obstacle. Your hands make contact with the object first. Your hips are then softly lowered to the object after that, and your body then wraps around the ledge to complete the movement.

Dive Rolls

This is when you dive to cover more distance and roll out. Your hands need to touch the ground to break the impact. Make sure you don’t land shoulder first.

Vault Variations & Flow

Once you have mastered the basic movements, it’s time to start mixing things up. Here is a list of some advanced Parkour movements.

Kash Vault

This is the combination of a kong and a dash. You enter the movement with the kong technique. Once halfway across the obstacle, you pull your chest back and finish the movement as you would a dash.

Tac Vaults

This is a vault where you use a tac as your takeoff. You tac off one obstacle, and then vault over another, without touching the ground in between.

Cast Vault

Using a hip catch position while on a bar or railing, cast away from the bar and use your momentum to vault forwards over the bar.

Handstands

Everyone is familiar with this. It is a standing position, but using your hands to hold you up instead of your feet. It is useful to use a wall when practicing this technique.

Cartwheel

This is a movement where each hand and foot is placed on the ground individually in sequential order. Your hands are placed on the ground, one after the other. Next, you swing your body over your hands, lifting your feet in the air. Both of your feet should move over your entire body, landing on the ground one after another.

Drop Back Using Knees on a Bar

While sitting on a bar, fall backwards – holding onto the bar with your knees and hands.

Kong to Cat

A long vault that ends in the cat position. This is when you vault an obstacle and then transition to a cat on a wall right afterwards. You should not touch the ground in between movements.

Dyno

From a cat or hanging position, launch yourself upwards and grab onto another object that is higher above the first one. You can stack this technique repeatedly, scaling large walls with appropriate objects.

Flag

This is a horizontal hold done on a vertical bar. One hand is holding the bar above your head while the other sits below your head. You lift yourself up sideways and hold a perpendicular position to the bar.




ADVANCED VAULTS

Double Kong

This is two kongs done one after another on a long obstacle or two different objects. You don’t touch the ground in between kongs. You need to use more power on the first kong than the second, keeping your legs high until the landing.

Long Kash

This is the same as a regular kash, but done over a long or double obstacle.

Travelling Kong

This is a single kong done over a long object. Both of your hands make contact individually, one at a time. You essentially walk across the object using your hands and forward momentum.

Drop-in

When doing a handstand on an obstacle, exit the handstand by doing a kong vault forwards.

Travelling Reverse

This is a reverse done on a double or long obstacle. Just like the travelling kong, each hand touches the object once, but at different times. The turned hand can touch first or last, depending on how you want the reverse to look.


OTHERS...

There are many more advanced movements out there that are beyond the scope of this article. Some of the most popular advanced movements include flips, like the ones below:

 

 Front flip

 Back flip

 Side flip

 Gainer

 Wall spin 


We do intend to develop this article further but only if it is useful to the community. So if you enjoyed this article and wish to see it developed further then please share your favourite movements in the comments below.



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