Ever watched those videos of insane parkour stunts, and wanted to learn how to do them? I decided to try out a parkour lesson with MOVE Academy to get a taste of it. Yes, you can pick these skills up in Singapore too!
At MOVE Academy, they pride themselves on the philosophy of Art du Déplacement (ADD) rather than freerunning itself. The age of parkour has actually evolved, with different camps following different ideas and concepts.
Freerunning includes acrobatics and tricks that trade efficiency of movement for flair and aesthetics. Conversely for ADD, the focus is on the efficiency of the actions in overcoming obstacles.
I took on a trial lesson under the supervision of Fagan who has trained in ADD for a good 15 years. He’s no doubt one of the most senior instructors at MOVE Academy.
This lesson was a special one though, because it was Fagan’s last session as an instructor. He has decided to take a sabbatical after teaching for a good decade, saying that he feels that he needs to relearn what it’s like to be a student again.
And so, instead of the typical lesson schedule, he decided to do an unorthodox one. He promised that the lesson was meant for us to unleash the ‘superhero’ stunts we have learnt!
In addition to the usual warm-up that gets your heart pumping, there was a unique routine which sharpened our reflexes.
It started with jogging on the spot and taking turns to shout out a direction. This was simple: when someone says “up”, everyone does a tuck jump. ‘Down’ corresponds to a squat, ‘left’ means squatting down and placing your palm on your left and the opposite for ‘right’.
Taking things up a notch, we added in someone’s name followed by a direction. The person whose name was mentioned has to do the opposite of the direction mentioned, while the others continued as per normal.
I have to admit it got a little confusing, and some of us ended up blindly following each other’s mistakes!
Of course, as first-timers, I thought this warm-up was overdoing it. Parkour can’t be THAT intense right? Only later did I realise that by heightening our reflexes, it allowed us to react to unforeseen mistakes that we could make midway through parkouring.
Having done our warm-up, we headed over to the ramp beside the underpass at Clarke Quay. And I don’t mean we walked over, because the class of eight began jogging and manoeuvring over road dividers.
Like a loser, I crossed the road the normal way, blending in with the pedestrians.
We were then separated by our skill level. Fagan introduced a task for the senior students: to cross the two railings by showing off all that they’ve learnt.
Whereas for the beginners, we began with the most basic skills: to cross over the railing. This comprised a Step Vault, Gate Vault and the Lazy Vault.
The Step Vault is one that most guys will be comfortable with, having done that during our obstacle course during National Service.
The Gate Vault, on the other hand, is where you lean your entire body on the top of the railing and use the twisting motion of your legs to flip your body over.
And lastly, the Lazy Vault, as the name suggests, makes the action look a lot easier than it seems. You use one foot to push your entire body’s weight over the railing, with one hand pivoting.
The next step up the learning curve was climbing. For beginners, we started off with static climbing. This means that we couldn’t use momentum such as running up to the wall. We had to hang onto a ledge with both feet against the wall, and use pure brute strength to pull ourselves up.
Personally, this was quite manageable, especially if you’re someone who’s capable of doing pull-ups.
Next, I moved on to dynamic climbing. This is where you use momentum to ‘tic-tac’ off another wall to the wall you are climbing, or take a jumping step on the same wall.
I failed terribly with my first jump. But don’t worry, with practice comes perfection.
Having learnt these three vaults and climbing, we were told to combine them in any variations to cross two sets of railings and add in the wall climb. In the beginning, overcoming the obstacles were still manageable, but to cross over with ease and finesse was something that we lacked.
As more repetitions were made, it became smoother and it definitely felt like our stunts were world-class standard.
After picking up useful skills from a day’s training, I genuinely felt like a superhero. All I was missing was a kickass costume!
In contrast to other form of skills you could learn from kickboxing or musical instruments, parkour is one skillset that can be employed almost anywhere.
After all, the main principle behind parkour is “be strong to be useful”, reemphasising its applicability to real-world situations.
If you’re keen on learning parkour but you’re not sure if you can pick it up, don’t worry. The community is accommodating, with students as young as 13 years old, to even senior citizens. What’s your excuse?
Prices: Starting from S$30 /class, monthly packages available too (more pricing details available on their website)