Run, jump, and vault your way through everyday obstacles with a new sport that’s taken the world by storm: parkour.

We spoke to Robby Apelo from the Philippine Parkour and Freerunning Association, one of the country’s largest parkour groups, and Raven Cruz of Rogue Movement, to know more about parkour.

What is parkour?

It doesn’t have to be as cinematic as these shots, though. Video by Storm Freerun

Robby says it’s “using natural ways of movement to navigate obstacles in a given environment.” Its movements are inspired by the military obstacle course training in France but developed as a standalone activity by David Belle, Sebastien Foucan, and the Yamakasi.

Terms, checks and gearing up

Training sessions are called jams, while parkour practitioners are called traceurs.

Before a jam, have a good warm-up by doing jumping jacks or jogging, and stretching. Check the space you’ll be moving around in. Make sure everything you’re likely to use is sturdy and safe. Plan your moves.

Basic movements

It looks simple, but you go through so much before you can do it this well.

Jumping/Landing. Bend your knees at a 45-degree angle as you swing your arms back; push hard off the ground through your toes while you swing your arms forward; bring your knees to your chest to get your hips in the right place as you keep an eye on where you’re landing. Before landing, extend your legs and on the balls of your feet to absorb the impact. Make sure your legs aren’t locked out or too relaxed before landing.

Rolling/Breakfall. This can be done from a standing or a crouched position. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and slightly to one side, preferably on the opposite side of whichever shoulder you feel more comfortable with. Tuck your chin into your chest as said comfy shoulder goes down, pushing off with your legs to initiate the roll. Keep your legs and your head tucked throughout the roll until you get your feet under you. Push off the ground with your hands and feet to stand up and be on your merry way.

Quadrupedal Movement. It’s as simple as crawling on your hands and feet. Make sure you’re low to the ground and that your knees don’t touch the floor. Move your hand and its opposite leg to make the movement more efficient.

A kong vault, so called because you look like King Kong when you do it.

Safety Vault/Speed Step/Step Vault. One of the easiest vaults in parkour, it makes use of one hand and the opposite leg to go over an obstacle. Approach the obstacle (usually a wall that’s about hip height) at a comfortable speed for a bit of momentum. Once you’re close, jump from one leg to go over the obstacle. Put down the other foot and the same hand as the leg you jumped off of on top of the obstacle, creating a space between them for your jumping leg to pass through. Once your jumping leg is through, push off the obstacle with your hand and foot to continue your run.

Wall Run. A very useful move for getting up walls without ladders. Start with a bit of a run towards a wall that’s about as tall as you. When close to the wall, step off the wall with one foot at about waist height and redirect your forward momentum upward, reaching for the top of the wall with your hands. Grab the top of the wall and pull yourself up.

Where to go to jam

The Quirino Grandstand’s Rice Garden or the walls in front of the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros training during the weekend.

Parkour gyms to try: Muscle Up Parkour Gym and Urban Training Ground in Maginhawa or Ninja Academy at Circulo Verde, both in Quezon City.

The gear

You don’t need that much equipment to start parkour. A good pair of trainers and some clothes will do.

A pair of running shoes with a good drip and comfortable clothes. Sport-specific apparel includes brands like Farang from Thailand and Storror and Storm Freerun from the UK; for shoes, some well-known parkour brands are Ollo, Know Obstacles, and the recently-released Farang Elevate.

The Basics
What to follow: and for all things parkour in the Philippines, including jam schedules.

Who are Robby Apelo and Raven Cruz?
Robby is a core member of the Philippine Parkour and Freerunning Association (PPFA), and has been practicing parkour for over eight years.

Raven is a member of Rogue Movement, a team of traceurs from the City of Manila, and a coach at Progressive Hub Manila and Ninja Academy.