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Parkour training in silence


stealth training

The ability to be silent is an advanced listening skill. Not only to the sound you make when you hit the pavement, but that of your thoughts when you jump over an obstacle. Silence is a medium in which you slowly learn how to listen to what is around you and inside you.

How often have you stopped simply to listen to the world around you? On the same note, how often have you actually listened to yourself? Against the constant background of an urban city this can sometimes be hard to achieve. Noise, bright lights, the rush of the city, these things are the trappings of our modern life, so much so that we easily forget the pleasure of being silent. Having to make yourself heard, day-to-day, you realize even our thoughts are loud.

When learning how to do Parkour, training efficient and fluid movements to overcome obstacles is very important to be graceful and artistic. And silence plays a key role in all this, specifically in being efficient. The amount of impact which is adsorbed by your movement can be determined by how little sound you make.

A loud and heavy landing is obviously different and easily noticed from a quiet and soft landing and often one can tell a beginner from a experienced practitioner by the amount of noise produced during their movement. Silence equals a good Traceur.

Why noise matters in Parkour?

It is important to understand that it is not just being quiet for quiet’s sake: it has a purpose. That purpose is to improve and refine your control over your physical abilities. Silence, in most cases, demonstrates efficiency. If your movement generates a lot of noise this means you are not absorbing the energy of impacts efficiently when landing or running – which in turn means you are creating more physical stress for you body than is necessary and may cause more harm to your body in the long run. The less you hear, the greater the skill level.

The two main things to consider when learning how to Parkour and seeking the path of silence: Practice and Self-awareness.

To truly be silent you have to be aware and observant of your own movements. This can be a trying task for many of us who are happily stomping around on auto pilot without much thought. You must be choosing how much noise your footsteps and movements make, not letting mere chance decide. For a good example, observe a cat moving about a house: its every step is measured, its landings are controlled, and all useless sound is avoided. Cats move with perfect control. Being silent can rarely be achieved without consciously observing your movement.

One reason why many find this difficult at first is that we are used to being lost in our thoughts. Being inside our heads and not really aware of what we are doing or what is going on around us. Like little robots. This is when our moves are at their sloppiest.

Being aware of how you move and how you are controlling the movement enables you to free yourself from distraction or chatter in your head and allows intense focus on the movement and obstacles.

How to train in silence

Start by practicing your self awareness. Observe your movement when you walk and run, when you are training Parkour. Start small and observe how you land from jumps. Concentrate on producing smoother, more efficient movement and transfer of energy.

As with everything, the key is to start small. Try dropping off a bench, or a table, but do it silently. This is where technique and refinement will assist: land on the balls of your feet first, absorbing the energy through the muscles of your legs as you crouch. Place your hands down in front of yourself for extra surety of balance. Do this until you can land without noise, cat-like, poised to move on immediately ñ then up the height. Then try it with precisions. Then with rail precisions.

And it isn’t just in landings that we can incorporate the principles of stealth. Listen to your footsteps when you walk or run: are your feet crashing down like buckets of cement with each step, flat-footed and heavy? If so, time to go back to basics and learn to walk properly my friend: Heel-to-ball-to-toe. Flex the ankle. Energy should be directed forwards, not up and down: always think efficiency. Try to keep your head at the same height when walking or running. Be balanced, not tipped forwards or leaning back. Relax the muscles. Be stealthy, like a stalking cat. Flow, even when you walk! Herein lies self-mastery.

Another fun game played by practitioners learning how to Parkour is the ‘stealth run‘. Where you purposefully move through an environment with the aim of keeping noise levels to an absolute minimum. Speed is not an important factor here but efficiency and fluid movement are. This game will quickly bring your attention to how much noise you make during your movements and help you to observe your every movement and feeling as you train.

These are effectively uninterrupted periods of movement, over any terrain, often at night, wherein the goal is simply to move as quietly and efficiently as possible. Speed is not important here, nor particularly are aesthetics. Just move, interact with whatever comes your way, but always do it silently. If training with others, monitor each otherís noise levels, see if you can hear the one ahead and the one behind ñ and if someone is too loud, let them know about it with a definite ëshushí.

The concept of a Stealth Run is not to sneak about, but rather not to draw attention to yourself. The aim is to move fluidly and in harmony with your environment, such that people simply do not notice you are there because you are not generating any stimuli that their senses might pick up on. This is a great way to train your body as well as your immediate spatial awareness, and itís great fun too. Try it: but try it quietly.

Having trouble being silent?

All motion involves a collusion of many muscles. In crude terms, the more muscles you can engage for any one movement, the more power and control that movement will have. Isolation is inefficiency. Learn to think of the body as an undivided whole, for that is exactly what it is.

Our musculature is symmetrical as well as sympathetic: tense your right bicep and up to 20% of that tension will be reflected in your left one. Improve the grip of one hand by clenching the other at the same time. You will see that the muscles of the body are all interconnected on many levels, and none of them works alone. Understanding this can help you greatly improve your economy of effort within any movement. This brings control, and this in turn will bring silence.

Look at a decent boxer’s punch: it isn’t just the arm, or even the shoulders that give it that dynamic speed and power. A whole array of muscles is involved, from the toes and lower leg through the hips and torso and then lastly the shoulder and arm. This is known as muscle recruitment, and it applies across the board for all sports and physical activities, and no less for Parkour.

A poor landing, for instance, is one in which the impact is managed only by the knees and lower legs. The full range of muscles is not recruited effectively into the action, and the resulting heavy jolt will shock the spine and have negative effects upon the entire skeletal structure. And it will be loud.

A good landing, however, will disperse the impact through the whole body as all the muscles work to support each other, much like the ribs of a coiled spring. Such a landing will be soft, graceful and controlled. And it will be quiet.

Benefits of quietness

And the benefits of silence stretch beyond the physical arena as well. You will find as you progress through stealth training that the endless discourse within your mind begins to fade into the background, allowing pure concentration and focus to come to the fore.

However you want to move, whatever path you choose to take, stealth must be a core component of your practice of Parkour. Every aspect of your game will benefit from being able to do it with less noise, quietly stealthily. So while you train, listen to your movements.

A loud landing is a heavy landing. Think about it: the softer any impact is, the less sound it generates.  If you want to be able to practice up unto a ripe old age, it is imperative that you minimize the impact your body and joints receive. If you can land quietly, you can be fairly sure the impact is negligible.

Learn to land silently, so that your muscles work in harmony and you’ll be able to walk when you’re older.

6 comments
  1. Colin B.

    January 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    The more noise that is created with any given impact, the more energy from the impact is redirected to the ground and NOT your legs. I would argue that the louder the impact, the less energy is reverberating throughout your body, and so the less stress that is put forth upon it. Putting out excess energy just to make an action quiet might not be necessary to be ‘efficient’.

    Reply
    • Dan Dinu

      January 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      When you redirect a lot of energy directly into the ground you also get an equal force returning in your joints, bones and muscles. You should use your whole body to disperse that force. High impact will seriously damage your joints.

      Reply
    • Tymoteusz

      March 24, 2012 at 10:08 am

      U are wrong, more noise u do more impact going to ur body man…, because it goes ur spine ur knees etc…, less noise means all thing just flow off, i was long time doing very loud landings and after time start feel trouble with my soles, knees etc, start work with them and release all stuff are absorbed by my muscles not a bones…

      Reply
    • Thomas E.

      November 16, 2012 at 1:52 am

      Colin, smack your hand on the table and you will feel a sting and hear a loud pop. your body being the hand the less the pop the better, less pain, less damage.

      Reply
    • Indrayan

      January 8, 2014 at 10:09 am

      maybe you want to revise Newton’s third law

      Reply
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