LOW and SLOW. Training Safe and Training Smart

6 Mar

LOW and SLOW. Training safe and training smart.

by Ira Villar, founder of PKPH /Parkour Philippines

ira doing some pk moves

In this article, Ira writes about the importance of training Low and Slow for beginners. While this article is intended for those who practice parkour, there is a lot of wisdom here applicable to beginner pole dancers as well.


I am now watching the newest PK Vids on YOUTUBE. Some have promise, some have potential, some have a very bright future, and most are just cluttering the internet with poor technique and bone breaking drops.

The problem with all these videos is that the initial attraction to Parkour becomes the big drops and rarely anything else. People need to understand the basic principle of starting LOW and SLOW.

New practitioners are constantly jumping off buildings and heights (usually 2nd or even 3rd floor!), believing that the PK ROLL will help them. There are many variables to consider in these cases. Is it properly practiced? Is the form correct? Does the roll put impact on the spine? Does it travel through the meaty and fleshy muscle parts of the body? Do the legs sufficiently take impact before the roll? Is the head properly tucked?  Etc.

In other cases, there isn’t even a roll (I’ve seen videos… TONS.) In that case, how’s the landing form? Is there a proper “crumple”? How far do the knees bend? How are the toes and heels? Other than that, we also have to consider the physical health and fitness level of the jumpers / droppers (in most cases, I don’t classify them as landers! 😉 ) How are the knees? Are they prepared to take the strain? How fit are the quadriceps / thigh muscles? And there are many more questions I constantly ask.

With all these variables in hand, is it really enough to justify jumping off a balcony after only a few months of training?

Most teens that start training immediately jump off heights and they don’t feel it. YOUR BODY IS YOUNG, AND RESILIENT. You can jump off now, you won’t feel it. But in a few years, you will regret all of it when you have chronic pain, or when your knees can’t handle most jumps.

(If you don’t believe me, look for the videos of DVINSK CLAN. The traceur, OLEG, has insane jumps. There is a lot of height, but only moderate technique. If any of you are wondering why he hasn’t posted a video in a while, it’s because he is now in a wheelchair.)

Think about it. And now going back to topic,

Before even attempting anything that level, one must train LOW and SLOW.



I don’t want to get too scientific but everyone knows the principle of acceleration due to gravity. The higher you are, the faster you will fall, and the stronger you will hit the ground. Training LOW means to avoid heights. And I’m not only talking about jumps and lands. Even vaults, or precisions, we should all start training LOW. The aim is to practice the techniques, to explore options, to find your own individual way. All of which can be done on a LOW level.  Staying low, there is less risk. You can mess up a landing, and with less height, there is less risk and there is less force towards the ground.


Parkour is not a quick trip, it’s a journey.… and all journeys begin with a single step.

There is absolutely no rush or hurry to get to heights. People always want to jump higher and higher. Why? Ask yourself why there is a rush to do so? Why there is a need to go there? (If the answer involves impressing someone else, you should really rethink why you’re training in Parkour.)

The main reason we train slow (slow in the sense that it takes literally thousands of jumps before going up a level) is because we try to develop muscle memory. One does a jump, and a land, literally thousands of times in order to “feel” the move. How is your weight distribution? Where are you leaning? Does doing the move this certain way help you? Does it stop your momentum? There are many questions you can ask yourself. Parkour after all, is also about self discovery and body awareness.

The technique has to be known inherently. Also, the technique needs proper and mastered form.

Another reason for training slow is to develop the necessary muscles. Want to get a faster climb up? Keep doing climb ups, and you’ll feel your triceps, your upper back, forearms, and all other muscles used. The same goes for landings. As I’ve stressed more than enough, it takes thousands of jumps. Not only do you adjust to proper technique, but you also develop your quads and the muscles around your knees.

Put LOW AND SLOW together and simply put, why jump off a balcony if your technique is not at a hundred percent? Why jump that high if your legs aren’t ready yet?

David Belle said himself “to be strong, to last”, which in my opinion talks about Parkour in the long term. It is not ALL about individual techniques and moves. Also, it’s not ALL about that one run (in emergency cases, it could be) BUT rather, I believe it’s ALSO about the long term training and discovery.

Apart from the altruistic core of training in order to be prepared (for that one emergency situation, to escape danger, or to save someone) Parkour has evolved to bring much focus on self improvement, exploration of possibilities, and discipline.  In any case, training in the long term is much better with full and well developed health, than with chronic knee pains or torn ligaments. (Or not being able to train at all!)

Training low and slow is the best way to train. It’s safe, and it’s smart. Don’t just attempt a thousand landings. What’s the use if the landings are all in bad form? It’s okay to make mistakes. But this is why we train low and slow. There is less risk.

Parkour is a beautiful art, and it looks easy, but to reach that, there’s a lot of steps to go through. LOW and SLOW.


To learn more about Ira and PKPH, check them out at  www.facebook.com/parkourphilippines.




3 Responses to “LOW and SLOW. Training Safe and Training Smart”

  1. Ira Villar March 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    The bit about Oleg from Dvinsk Clan was proven as a hoax, a believable rumor to remind people about safety. And yes, the message got across 😛
    Because his old videos really did have poor form and too much height, while his new videos are amazing. He’s improved greatly!

    • CD March 9, 2011 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks for that info Ira! 🙂
      looking forward to training with PKPH again 🙂

    • polecatsmanila March 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks for the article Ira! All the love! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: