The Debrief: PKGen Questions...Chris Keighley
Chris is a veteran of the UK scene, and one of the longest-standing team members at Parkour Generations. His diligence in training and coaching has taken him all over the world to teach, practice, perform and otherwise eat everything that comes his way. He regularly coaches in London at the Academy Classes and is a central member of the Performance Team.
How long have you been a Traceur?
I saw Jump London when it aired in late 2003 and went out jumping and exploring that week, although it wasn't very structured and I didn't really know what parkour was, or even what it meant to me at that point.
What movements are you currently working on?
I never usually focus on specific movements but I have been making a concerted effort to balance and jump around on railings in the wet/rain recently.
What percentage of your training is conditioning?
It can vary a lot but I will normally spend between 6 and 12 hours a week on a variety of strength and conditioning exercises, including calisthenics, handbalancing, weightlifting and some general conditioning work.
Favourite strength and conditioning exercise?
As soon as my wrist is fully recovered I will be doing a lot of Olympic lifts (or their variations) but heavy back squats have remained the one constant in my training for a long time now for building basic strength.
Who is your biggest influence?
My mum has been a huge influence in how I behave and the respect I have for others so I really don't think I'd be the person today were it not for her. And the best (albeit, simple) advice I've ever heard is from my dad: If you come across something that you don't know the answer to, look it up.
It's so hard to pick just one, so I will swerve the question slightly and say that there are very few savoury foods that are not improved by the judicious use of a good hot sauce.
Three current favourite training music tracks?
I don't normally move around to music but The Sickness by Disturbed is my favourite album for weightlifting to and I maintain that Voices or Down With The Sickness gets you in the right frame of mind for general beastiness. Roxanne by the Police has a great game that is played to it for training purposes so that completes my choices!
Item in your bag you couldn't go training without?
Water. Any serious work makes me thirsty as hell so if I want to have a good session I need to stay hydrated.
How do you approach breaking a jump?
I'll usually have a good idea if I will break the jump that day, whether it subsequently takes me 5 minutes or a couple of hours. The key for me is to practice a similar jump (landing, distance, movement, whatever) to get in the right frame of mind, and then to practice the run-up repeatedly. If I have good foot placement it means I can concentrate on landing the jump well. Lastly, I might have several practice run-ups but I always decide before I start if it is a practice or the real thing. Once I decide it is the real attempt, I commit totally and have never backed out because I think a committed fail is much safer than pulling out of the jump.
Where do you see Parkour in ten years time?
It's impossible to predict. It's come a long way from a couple of internet forums and obscurity to where it is now. I hope it will continue to grow and that more people will discover the benefits of parkour for themselves.
One piece of advice to Traceurs just starting out:
There's no rush. Build your physical potential, challenge yourself mentally and work on the basics: accuracy, soft landings. If you have a strong foundation then you will last a long time and accomplish a lot of what you want to along the way.