The Debrief: PKGen Questions...Matt Malin
Matt Malin has been part of the London Parkour scene for some time and has established a reputation with his huge jump and penchant for purple clothing. He is often the first to break a huge precision or catleap and has represented the Broken Men team for around a year now.
How long have you been a traceur?
I started early in 2010 and quite quickly got into a mindset of regular training, so about 2½ years so far. Unfortunately I've had a fair amount of time either out of training completely, due to breaking my leg, or having to adapt to other odd lingering non-parkour injuries so I've had to train with limited movement whilst allowing them to heal.
What movements are you currently working on?
I'm trying to work on everything really, but mainly working on regaining confidence for running precisions. It's been a mental battle attempting to repeat movements that used to feel natural but are now vastly scarier since returning from injury.
What percentage of your training is conditioning?
It depends how much time I'm able to get out and train parkour itself. If I don't have much chance to get out and train in a given week I'll make sure to condition instead, so I'd guess about 50%.
Favourite strength and conditioning exercise?
Finding a decent size wall and drilling many repetitions of wall runs to climbups. Outside of parkour specific movements, I'd have to say pistol squats.
Who is your biggest influence?
The people I'm often training around (the rest of the Broken Men and the entire Supa XXL group) each offer something different that influences my training and keeps training fun in new ways, but I don't really have an individual biggest influence.
Lasagne, in large amounts.
Three current favourite training music tracks?
Madeon - Finale
Parov Stelar - Matilda
Knife Party - Rage Valley
Item in your bag you couldn't go training without?
A bottle of water, and plaster tape.
How do you approach breaking a jump?
I much prefer my first attempt at a jump to be one that I get, so I try and avoid “prep jumps” but instead work towards getting into a state of being able to properly commit. I try to let my initial assessment of how I feel about the jump when I'm standing at the point of takeoff be the true guide on whether I'll be able to break the jump that day.
If I work myself up into frustration about not doing a jump, I'll walk away and do some other jumps and general movement elsewhere just to remind my body how natural movement should feel and make sure to go and take another look at the jump later. Generally, it's a case of getting my mind into the place of being ready to commit to performing a jump I'm capable of performing safely, so when I do break the jump it turns out that I'm able to just "go and do it" because after the second (or third, fourth... twentieth) time, the jump starts to looks attainable with a controlled landing.
There are other jumps though where I'll just drill away at the jump many many times until I make it; it all depends how safe the recovery from a failed attempt would be and if my "parkour vision" has been generally failing me that day so if my view on jump distance needs to be refreshed.
Where do you see Parkour in ten years time?
I see there being a much higher awareness of parkour by the general public as the majority of schools will hopefully have parkour based classes as a P.E. standard class.
I'm already amazed at the incredibly progression of the skill level across the entire parkour / freerunning scene over the last couple of years, even more so as I look back at older videos, and I imagine it'll only continue further with younger and younger athletes performing larger and more demanding movements earlier into their training. I do worry that the attitude of training for safety will be lost amongst many people first learning, and I fear that parkour may start to be viewed negatively if it is started to be viewed as reckless and the cause of (possibly major) injuries due to new practitioners trying bigger movements just to impress, or to “keep up” with those around.
One piece of advice to Traceurs just starting out:
Train movements on both sides as early as possible: don't always take off from the same foot, and don't always use the same arm for vaults and climbups. It's a lot harder to adjust imbalances in strength later on that will arise gradually and even harder to adjust the ingrained habits of only using one side.
I'm giving two extra pieces of advice because they are too important to not be mentioned again and should always on the mind of people training:
Always check your landings: strong walls may have loose bricks, some rails rotate, dry looking walls may not be, tiny bits of moss or grass on dry walls can sometimes be slippier than water, sturdy looking walls sometimes collapse completely, wooden panels may be thinner than you think, strong rails may not even be attached to a wall and move entirely, only one half of a wall may be strong, branches may bend, that box may be on wheels, that chair might not be fixed, etc, etc, etc. Check your landings.
Respect injuries. Resting to allow injuries to recover is still training and should be treated as such, and is more productive than training through an injury and it taking ten times as long to recover, producing imbalances and pain along the way. There are always ways to train other things, and despite how it feels, parkour is not everything in life. Consider the avoidance of using affected body parts as an exercise in self discipline, and look after your body.