If you’re like me then you’re probably wondering firstly what is the Zombie Apocalypse and secondly what the hell has it got to do with Parkour? Questions I asked myself as I rocked up to my first instructor training class in Australia, where the conversation was very much based around this theme. My lack of knowledge on the subject secured a few doubting looks that I actually practice Parkour at all. I felt like an outsider, how had someone failed to inform me we train in Parkour so that we can survive the zombie apocalypse? Probably because I would have laughed at them, as I would have done in this situation had I not been out numbered and new to the group.  Instead I sat back and let the conversation unfold, taking in all that was discussed so that if this is a common theme around the world I would not be frowned upon again.

When class began it was back to the reality, somewhere i felt much more at ease.   As part of the APA instructor training a different topic is discussed each week. This broadens the instructor’s knowledge, which can then be passed on to their students and incorporated into their classes. Our given topic of the day was Reach Escape.  Through various you tube videos or photos you may have seen the Reach, Escape t-shirts worn by Australian traceurs, but have you ever sat down and really thought about these two words.  On a sunny afternoon in Melbourne we were asked to do just that, what it means in relation to Parkour and how we can incorporate it into our training.

My first thoughts were of someone chasing me.  I would be more able to reach a safe destination and escape danger more efficiently than I would have before I started Parkour.  This was discussed and people gave examples of real life situations where they had found having trained in Parkour it had been useful in their given situations.  Another way of looking at it is if someone else was in need of a helping hand, you need to get to them and aid their circumstances.  Again more personal experiences were shared.  My example of helping someone with their shopping was some what less heroic than others stories but never the less, still involved helping someone else who was struggling and unable to do it themselves. In this kind of situation you don’t know the ability of the person you are helping, you therefore have to be prepared to guide someone who is potentially mentally and physically less able than yourself.  These were the two main areas discussed.  We then had to think of ways to incorporate these into training. 

We split into pairs to play a simple cat and mouse style game.  The ‘mouse’ was given a safety destination, which they had to reach before the ‘cat’ caught them.  Simple, except each time various areas were cast off limits forcing the mouse to think on their toes of new routes to reach safety.  This trained you to think fast, trying to find the quickest most efficient way to outsmart and escape the predator.  A fun game with beneficial outcomes and extra challenging when everyone playing it trains in Parkour!  The second exercise we did was more of a role-play style game.  In three’s one person was deemed injured and the other two had to get them to safety.  This tested our strength, mentally and physically. Its a lot harder going through a route you would normally fly over, with someone who has “broken limbs”.  As I mentioned before, you will come up against all different levels of ability and/or impairments.  Knowing this and being prepared for it puts you in a good position to overcome obstacles presented to you at any given time.

While out training one day it occurred to me that reach escape can also be related to the mental battle you can sometimes come up against while doing something that scares you.  This was not something we discussed but something I have been thinking about since coming up more and more against a fear barrier.  If you can reach clarity of thought, a state of mind where these apprehensions do not restrict your training, then you have escaped the threat of fear hindering your progression.  This is often easier said than done but something I am working on and something for you to think about.

I left Australia richer in mind with these two very valuable words, Reach, Escape. Both very simple, but to me sums up the essence of Parkour perfectly. In keeping with the early practitioners philosophy, it trains you to be strong to be useful. Useful to yourself and to others.  And from my understanding of the apparent impending Zombie Apocalypse, I should like my fellow traceurs be fully prepared in mind and body to survive it-phew!