Mastery of Ambidexterity
This will be a recurring theme for flow and it’s just as important here as it was with the steps. You may have a preference for your most powerful movements but for most of what you do, it will only make your life easier if you have a solid ability to do it on either side. This includes split foot entry on the catpass or step out landing, each side for all of your vaults, stepping movements, jumps, rolls and even being able to do your lache’s and switches with either arm to throw. This is something to start practicing now if you haven’t already.
Start building the awareness of your technical preferences and decrease the discrepancy between your two sides bit by bit every training.
Explore your Start
The thing that I really enjoy about Parkour from other more regimented disciplines is that the potential amount of variables that we naturally encounter in our movements is nearly infinite. As I expand my awareness of the possibilities in the environment and my movement vocabulary, it helps create a level of newness in each training which has been instrumental in my continued engagement in Parkour. Here we will see how changing your starts can effect your training.
The Start has to do with all the different ways you can begin a movement. This subject ties a bit into my creativity topic on modifiers but here are the basics of it. The more variables you are comfortable with in your start, the less likely you are to hesitate and the more likely you are to conserve your energy when your route requires something unexpected, or when something unexpected happens.
The start modifiers below can be done in isolation until comfortable but be sure to mix them together to get the full benefit and enjoyment out of this exploration. Here are some of the ways you can modify your start to expand your movement mastery.
The more variables you are comfortable with in your start, the less likely you are to hesitate…
#1 – Ambidexterity
See ambidexterity points above.
#2 – Approach Angle
In training try to approach your obstacle at all angles and on as many axes as you can. This will help in your ability to apply your techniques effectively regardless of where the obstacle is. I like to use the clock method to work this. Think that you are in the center of a clock and you are facing 12 o’clock. You are always in the center of the clock as you move. The obstacles may come from different “hours” in relation to your clock.
- 12 o’clock is always in front of you
- 3 o’clock to your right
- 6 o’clock behind you
- 9 o’clock to your left.
You can practice this with the 4 main directions I just mentioned but also touch on the “hours” in between to find any holes in your technique.
Be sure to practice maintaining the same technique regardless of your approach angle as well changing the technique to the most effective version (e.g. Left hand vs right hand step vault if the obstacle is to your right or left respectively).
#3 – Starting Body Position
Explore all the different positions for starting a movement. If you can complete a certain movement(E.G. Left side travel vault) regardless of your starting position it will decrease your micro-transitions for that movement and your time to start or transition into your techniques.
It’s not always possible to go straight to a technique from some starting positions, instead you will have to add a couple steps/phases for the movement, which I’ll also refer to as micro-transitions. We will talk about that more in depth for the part 2 of this article but the basic idea will be to minimize the amount of movements from your starting position to your chosen technique. Below I’ve given you a couple base starting positions you can explore. Don’t forget to mix and match this with the other variables as you get comfortable.
- Standing: Feet Together, left Leading, right Leading, weight in your heels, toes, etc.
- Sitting: Seiza, cross legged, kneeling, pike, chilling, etc.
- Laying: On your back, side, belly, etc.
- Environmental: Against a wall, bar, bushes, in crawl spaces, in between obstacles, etc.
#4 – The End is the Beginning
So as you gain your comfort in these different starts I’d also ask you to look at your finish position of each technique as well. When you combine movements, begin to develop your ability to start and finish from different positions so you can, with training, blend your starts and finishes seamlessly into your runs.
You can start on your finishes by seeing what finishes naturally come to you and then which finishes fit into the starts of a technique you might want to connect to. Practice the technique’s natural finish and your own natural finishes, then just like with your starts you can begin to alter your finishes to fit the techniques you want to go into. Once this is understood you can start to create different connections for your vaults, jumps, flips etc. and link them in unique, fun and creative ways with different movements.
Play with these four modifiers in isolation and combination to ensure that no matter what position you end up in you’ll be able to transfer your momentum well and move effectively.