Safety First

The safety vault is one of the first vaults a person learns when they start training in parkour. It is easy to learn, and one of the safest, fastest, and most versatile vaults in any traceur’s repertoire.

Vault over the vault? Huh?

You’re going to see me use the word vault in two different contexts throughout this and future articles. The first is as a technique for getting over or around an obstacle (like the Safety Vault). There’s another use, though. A common training tool for practicing vaults is called a vault box, which is commonly shortened to just vault:

Vault Box

This is also a vault (Image courtesy of Sturdy Parkour Labs)

So in this case, the word vault is actually standing in for the obstacle you’re trying to circumvent. Granted, outside of a gym you’re not going to see vault boxes, and I probably should use obstacle all the time, but it might slip in out of habit, and besides, obstacle is way longer.

*Ahem* Moving on…

The safety vault is an asymmetrical vault, which means you’ll mostly be using one side of your body. You’ll jump off the ground with one foot, plant on the vault with one hand, and land with one foot. The safety vault differs from a lot of other vaults in that you also plant a foot on the obstacle on your way over.

The order progresses like so: Whichever foot you jump off the ground with:
– Plant on the vault with the same hand and the opposite foot, on opposite ends of the vault.

Takeoff form

It’s blurry, I know.

– Move your same foot through the empty space between your same hand and opposite foot on the vault, and land on the other side with the same foot.

Foot Placement

So if you jump off the ground with your right foot (like most people), your right hand and left foot will touch the vault, and your right foot will pass under your body and land on the ground in front of you. If you jump off the ground with your left foot (like me), it’s just the opposite: plant with your left hand and right foot, land with your left foot and keep running.

Safety Vault Landing

That last part is one of the things that’s so great about the safety vault: it doesn’t have to slow you down much. You can jump at the vault from a run, and continue running on the other side with one fluid motion. It’s not quite as fast or as smooth as a speed vault (which I’ll talk about a little later), but it’s fairly close, and much, much better than running around or scrambling over that same obstacle.


The most obvious, and most common, implementation is to get over an obstacle in front of you. The ideal obstacle is from knee- to waist-height and relatively shallow (anything deeper than two or three feet would be better served with a roll vault or kong vault – more on those later). The obstacle is preferably level (that is, the top runs parallel to the ground), but it can work at an angle, too, if it’s oriented so that the tallest part of the vault is on the same side as your planting hand (so if you jump with your right foot and plant with your left hand, you’d want a surface that’s level or that rises to the left). If it rises the other way, you’ll want to use a turn vault (again, more on that later). Same goes for direction: you can use a safety vault to go over an object straight on, or to one side, as long as it’s the side you plant your hand with (again, use a turn vault for the opposite side).

Fast and versatile

If you’re not going to go deep into parkour training, you need to have a few vaults that will do a lot for you. The safety vault is extremely versatile and definitely fills this need. In addition to being able to vault over a normal obstacle this way (like a low wall or a picnic table), you can use a safety vault to get down from height. If you can get your legs below the ledge before you drop down, you decrease the height of your fall by the length of your leg. Suddenly the ten foot drop is only seven feet, much more manageable.

using a safety vault technique to assist in a drop

Same hand and foot placement, same motion.

Safety While Carrying

If you’re carrying an object in one hand you don’t need to do anything differently. Just make sure it’s not in the hand you plant with and you’re fine. A bag isn’t much different, either. I’ve already told you how to run when you have a bag: pull the bag itself across your back and hold the strap taught with one hand. For the safety vault, just keep that position, raise your hand up to keep it out of the way, and plant on the opposite side.

Safety vault with a bag

It’s that simple folks. The safety vault is easy to learn, fast to execute, and extremely versatile. Learn it, and you’ll survive a little longer.

I’ll work on getting a video tutorial up soon, so keep your eyes open for that. I’m also going to go back and tweak the running rules soon: they’re a little too complicated and I think I’ve improved the method anyways. See you soon!

Run Like You’re Being Chased (Because You ARE)

The single most important thing to know when running from zombies is -wait for it- how to run effectively.

I’m not going to talk about the standard running form here. Nobody runs right, in general, it doesn’t really matter. Instead, I’m going to talk about running while encumbered. Specifically, encumbered by a heavy, over-the-shoulder duffel bag with a fairly loose strap.

Why so specific? Because this is the only type of encumbrance that will truly hinder your running. A handheld object can just be carried, even a two-handed one only takes a second to get the rhythm down. A backpack will usually have an easy way to cinch the straps up tight.

But a duffel bag isn’t designed to be run with. Its strap is usually pretty loose, it’s bulky, and it throws off your center of gravity as it bounces around on your hip. Sometimes you can cinch it up tight so it rests across your back, but not always, and sometimes you just don’t have time. So how do we run with it?

There are two effective methods, which I’m going to call the ninja and… the push. I’m sure there’s a better name for it, but nothing’s coming to me right now. Anyway, they both take a little practice, but the actual techniques aren’t that difficult. Picture the classic image of a ninja running through the woods: sword drawn, straight out behind them while their free hand is either up and obscuring their face or, more likely, pumping vigorously. You’re going to do the same thing, only with the bag strap instead of a sword:

Ninja Carry Pose

I’m looking at something INTENSE on the ground just off screen

Hold the strap out as taught as you can. The bag itself should follow the length of your arm. When you run, hold this arm out and behind you, and pump with the other arm.

Now grab the strap with your other hand and push it out, down and across your body:

Push Carry Pose

It’s hard to tell from this angle but my left hand is about in line with my right shoulder

The bag should be across your back. Hold it there while you run, pumping with your “rear” arm.

In either form, you’ll need to shorten tour stride a little and try to keep your torso from bouncing up and down as much as possible. Be careful to hold your arm in such a way as to keep the strap off your neck (this is more of a problem with the ninja method). You don’t want to start cutting off circulation.

You may find yourself having to run with two of these bags at the same time. Most people’s first idea is to wear them on opposite shoulders, crossing the straps over their torso. It distributes the weight more symmetrically, and prevents one shoulder from getting too sore. This is great if you’re walking to the airport terminal, but running from zombies thus way isn’t going to work very well: neither of the above running methods work well if you try to double them up, and you risk scissoring the straps across your neck, choking you and forcing you to slow down or stop and readjust. Instead, pick whatever side is most comfortable and implement both methods, one with each hand:

Double Carry Pose

Seriously, sorry about these crappy pictures

You can also try holding both straps with the same hand in a single pose, but this is difficult unless the straps are the same length, which isn’t going to happen very often.

NOTE: This is probably the last time I’ll talk about “double-bagging” on the site. You don’t really need to know any more about it than this, and since it takes both hands it’ll make any other evasion techniques impossible. If you’ve got two bags like this, either take a minute to cinch one up tight around your torso, or adjust the straps so they’re the same size and hold them both with one hand. If you don’t have time for that, you’re stuck on the ground.

This is all going to feel awkward at first, so practice whenever you can. Which method you use is largely a matter of comfort and preference, though it’ll be more important when we talk about vaults.

Keep Surviving.