Here are some of the things I worked on when I tried to get into parkour in college. These are some foundations that you can start with.
Roll on the ground.
This is a move that will help carry you forward and get you back on your feet. It also helps to absorb and lessen the impact on your body (and risk of injury) when hitting the ground.
- Start from a kneeling position with one foot forward.
- Push off your legs and feet and tuck your head in.
- Turn slightly to the side, and roll on more your shoulder/upper back. Don't land on your head or neck.
- Keep your legs tucked in as you roll. Don't stick them out otherwise you'll end up flat on your back.
- Keep your momentum going forward and end up back in a crouching/kneeling position. This will prime you for the next move (basically to get and run forward).
As you practice this move, take it slowly. When you reach a comfortable level, try it from a running position and increase your speed over time as you get used to it. You'll end up doing a dive roll which, once you feel comfortable with that, you can try to perform this move from an elevated structure. Start with something low in height, and be careful not to hit your head on anything. You should focus on going forward and learning how to absorb the impact and disperse the shock that would impact your body.
Learn to do a (lazy) vault
A vault is basically a sideways jump over some object (like a wall or fence). This move involves not just your legs to jump over but also relies on your core to maintain your airtime and forward momentum. You don't want to land with your tailbone on whatever it is your jumping.
- Start a step away from the object you want to jump.
- Move in and turn your body to the side.
- Lift one leg up, move it forwards, and jump off your back leg.
- Place your hand down on the object for stability as you bring your body/core up.
- Bring your other leg up sideways as you carry yourself forward and land on the other side.
You can practice this move going back and forth on each side of the object. Your focus should be moving your entire body and not solely relying on your arms or legs. Don't put a lot of weight on your stabilizing arm as you vault over. You do not need a whole lot of running room to perform this, and as you get better you can try from a running start and then up your speed. Once you become more comfortable, there are variations of the vault you can do.
This is a move where people fly under a bar, grab it, and swing themselves forward. Look for some kind of railing of some sort, preferably one with a single bar that has enough room under it to practice.
- Start a step away from the bar and move towards it.
- Do a small leap forward and lean back. (Yes, it's scary without support. Take this one SLOWLY).
- Reach up and out with your hands and grab the bar.
- Keep your core and weight moving forward while using the bar to help swing yourself.
- Let go of the bar, and move your upper body up and forward.
This is another one you can practice back and forth on one bar. When you go under, your body will arch back when your lower body moves forwards. As you come out and let go, you will have to move your upper body forwards to compensate for the shift in weight and not fall on your back. Do this one slowly too and work your way up to a faster movement once you develop the body strength from it. The important thing here is to work out your core rather than rely purely on arm strength to swing yourself.
Doing a wall hop is something that is mean to propel you upwards a wall. You don't need a tall wall when beginning. A small height one is enough to learn how to move upwards.
- Run towards a wall. You don't need a huge amount of speed at first.
- Jump at the wall placing your foot at a 45-degree angle. You want to land with the balls of your feet on the wall.
- Push off your foot while bringing your knees in and core upwards as you move forward.
To break it down, do this move slowly and get comfortable with how to place your foot and push off the wall. You can reach up with your arms to give you an idea of what the move will eventually be like. My suggestion is to try that later once you're comfortable otherwise you might just end up running into the wall after you jump (not fun).
Find people who train and do parkour.
While this was my introduction to parkour from someone more experienced than me, trying to learn on your own can result in some bad injuries since the activity is high-risk especially if you do not know what you are doing or where to start. Do not attempt any advanced moves until you are physically capable of doing so. Training other people will provide you with the support and advice you need. Some places or groups may offer classes too.
You can try searching the following sites to connect with people in your local area:
Doing it with other people, especially beginners, can help motivate and provide you the positive feedback when learning.
Stretch and do some strength training
Definitely do some stretching. You don't want to be super stiff when trying parkour again otherwise you might hurt yourself even more. Being more limber and flexible will help in moving your body in ways you haven't before. Developing that will also take time. Strength training will help too, but you needn't focus so much on this since you're a beginner just starting out. I would say do some bodyweight training, but parkour itself will naturally train your body in this regard. Running itself will help you though as that's a large component of parkour.
More tutorials are also available at:
Learn how to maintain your momentum as you go forward. Gaining fluidity will come with time and practice. Don't worry so much about doing crazy gymnastics at the moment yet. Some people actually think "tricking" (flips and stuff) doesn't belong in pure free running. You can decide if that's for you or not later on.