Common Misconceptions About Parkour During the ZA (part 1)

Alternate Title: It Seems the Zombie Survival Wiki Disagrees with me.

I happened upon this forum thread on the Zombie Survival Wiki the other day. It’s worth reading, or at least skimming, but it was essentially an argument over whether or not parkour would actually be effective in a zombie apocalypse. The thread has had fairly continuous activity for nearly two years, so it’s fairly obvious this is a heated topic amongst survivalists, but, frighteningly, most of them seem to have come to the same conclusion:

Come Z-Day, parkour will generally be useless.

*shudder* Hopefully I can shed a little light on the subject, and use this as a way to discuss the philosophies of ZET, answer questions, and illuminate some misconceptions about parkour, and it’s use in the ZA. There are a lot of concerns raised in the thread, and it’s going to take several posts to address them all, but you have to start somewhere.

DISCLAIMER: Obviously, I’m a little biased about the benefits of parkour vs zombies. That said, I’ve done actual, genuine research to find the most (and least) effective techniques, and explored the possibilities of carrying items and heavy bags while performing them. So while some of my answers will be similar to those already posted in the thread (and there have been some great responses so far), hopefully they’re a little more thought out, and I’ll back them up with examples when possible.

People get hurt all the time doing parkour. If you break your leg, you’ll be an even easier target.

Well… yes, if you break your leg, you’re pretty much dead. But in parkour we- no, you know what? I’m going to tackle the first part of that question first.

Is parkour dangerous? Sure. Is it more dangerous than, say, martial arts? No way. It’s also no more dangerous than football, track & field, or soccer, but those aren’t really pertinent to Z-Day. I really wish I could find statistics to back this up (and if you have any, please link them in the comments), but in my own personal experience, I’ve sustained no major debilitating injuries practicing parkour, which is more than I can say for any other sport I’ve done. I broke my toe playing soccer (out for a month), had a nasty hamstring pull pole-vaulting (out for half a season), sustained two concussions playing football, and dislocated my shoulder in Tae Kwon Do, a procedure requiring surgery and years of physical therapy (to this day). Worse, these all happened over the course of five years, when I was between 16 and 21.

In the seven years I’ve practiced parkour, I’ve sustained a sprained ankle (out for two months) two sprained wrists, some shin scrapes, and a nice road-rash on my forearm (none of which kept me out for more than a day). And this is from ages 23 to 30, when I should be much more prone to serious injury.

Why so few injuries? Because practicing parkour the right way means never doing something you’re not ready for, and slowly expanding that. I didn’t jump off a 10-foot building my first day, It took me six months before I was ready to try that.

Is that to say that serious injuries don’t happen at all? Of course not. A friend of mine broke his collarbone. I’ve seen a broken wrist and broken noses from other practitioners around the world. But you can get seriously injured doing anything if you do it wrong.

I don’t blame people for thinking this way. One look at YouTube will show people doing absolutely insane things, and many, many people falling and hurting themselves. And if you start out trying to do the same things as the pros, you’re going to kill yourself. But there’s a huge difference between what the original poster is saying (People should learn parkour to be better prepared for the zombie apocalypse) and what safety detractors are reading into it (People should do parkour with no prior knowledge when the zombie apocalypse hits to help them get away). The former is great advice; the latter will get you eaten

You can’t do parkour under pressure / fast / in a “real” threat situation

This is (mostly) just plain misconception. That would be like saying that you can’t use martial arts when facing a “real” opponent, or throw a football spiral when there are “real” linebackers about to tackle you. With practice (again, with practice), these techniques become muscle-memory and you can do them without thinking. Also, you start to see the world in terms of parkour obstacles, so you won’t have to stop and think about how to get over something, you’ll do it instinctively.
Now to address the “mostly” part. Utilizing parkour in an area you haven’t scouted ahead of time is, in fact, dangerous, particularly if the area you’re in is run-down. You have to be careful not to jump off/over anything blindly, and avoid putting all your weight on a surface that might break. But this is the same with anything: you have to be careful of your swing with a bat in certain situations, lest you knock something onto yourself, or accidentally hit a member of your own group. But that liability doesn’t make the bat any less useful. Having the tools and knowing when not to use them is better than not having them at all.

You can’t do parkour while carrying a weapon

As it happens, you can. You can also do parkour with a bag slung over your shoulder, and I’ll teach you how. Keep an eye on the site for instructional posts and video tutorials that will show you how to do exactly that. Or talk to me about a workshop, and I might be able to teach you in person.

I’d rather be able to jog carrying a shotgun than backflip over a wall with empty hands

The previous sentence was taken verbatim from a post on that thread.
Oh, where do I begin? Now we’re talking about parkour vs. freerunning. Parkour is about speed, efficiency and access, freerunning is about creativity and expression.

Backflips are flashy, but useless when being chased. In fact, the best way to determine which category a particular move falls under is to use the Zombie Test:
If you wouldn’t do it while being chased by a zombie, it’s freerunning.

Have fun with that. I’ll stick with [insert alternate survival technique here]

You’ve heard this before: Somebody smiles condescendingly, snickers and says, “have fun with that.” They then walk away, knowing in their heart that their preferred survival skill is vastly superior, and that you’ll be the first one to die.
I have three things to say on this subject:
Thing the First: this argument assumes that learning parkour must be done at the exclusion of all else, which isn’t true. If you want to be a master practitioner, sure. But even a few months of basic training will make you better at navigating your environment.
Thing the Second: this argument implies that your decision not to learn parkour invalidates its usefulness. If there is a zombie apocalypse, it’s going to take a diverse group with complimentary skill sets to survive. Having one or two people trained in parkour can only help the group, even if everyone else isn’t as agile. I’m not particularly interested in learning to use a rifle, but I’d sure love to have a trained sniper (more on that later) watching my back from a rooftop nearby.
Thing the Third: Parkour is complimentary to nearly any other skill set. How is that sniper going to get her rooftop perch? She could take the stairs, but every floor is a risk of a locked stairwell, or zombies, or both. Fire escape? Okay, sure:

Fire Escape

That’s about eleven feet off the ground

Can you jump straight up and grab that? Or what about a single-story building? I know I can’t. But you can bet i can wall-run up and grab either one.

Even with a rifle on my back.

Okay, that’s it for this post, but there are plenty more to address, so you can be sure I’ll be back.

Keep Surviving.

2 thoughts on “Common Misconceptions About Parkour During the ZA (part 1)

  1. Hah, “have fun with that” -one of my favorite condescending lines to use.

    I generally agree with everything, the only part I’d point out is that it seems likely that you are learning it correctly now but if you had tried learning Parkour back when you were playing the sports noted for injuries in your own personal history, I’d wager you would have had many more injuries from Parkour than you do. I remember all too well pushing boundaries more than I should have and paying for it with injuries or similar. Not that this should be any deterrent. Rather, it’s just worth noting that the comparison of injuries is biased.

    • You’re not wrong, but that’s all I have to offer as evidence. Like I said, I’d really like to see some actual data. Even if it proves me to be wrong, I’d like to have facts here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *