Decoy Training February 23rd!

Hey Everyone!

Been away for a while, but all is not lost! I’ve got a new workshop coming this weekend. It’s Decoy Training, and it’s going to be awesome! We’ll teach you how to use tools like bats, hammers, pipes, and broomsticks to deflect and evade zombies in close, close quarters. As a decoy, your job is to use your superior agility to facilitate the escape of others, by attracting attention and drawing the horde away from them. Of course, once you’ve done that, you’re going to need every trick possible to get away yourself. Here are the details:

Revolution Parkour
5651 Southwest Arctic Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 746-4785

When: Saturday, February 23rd, 4:00pm – 6:00pm (PST)
Cost: $15

Register now! (Click on the “Events” tab)
Want to help spread the word? Here’s a flyer to print and distrubite.

This is what I’m talking about

A while back I put up a few posts talking about common misconceptions about parkour and its usefulness in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I brought up a lot of points, and I feel like I illustrated them all pretty well.

I just saw a great parkour video that shows a lot of what I’m talking about in action. I’ll go into more detail down below, but watch this first:

Imagine those guys going through the same movements while being chased by zombies. Even the fast kind wouldn’t stand a chance. Here are some reasons why:

They’re not trying to be flashy. I stressed the difference between parkour and freerunning in my article, and this are pure parkour: There are no flips, no flourishes, no wasted movements.

They’re using the fastest, most efficient method possible for each situation. These guys are doing a lot of straight-up running in this video. They’re not jumping over cars when it’s faster to run around them, nor are they vaulting over a rail when the stairs are right there.

They’re always cautious and alert. You don’t see any huge roof jumps here, or unnecessarily high drops. In most cases, they’ll drop over the ledge quickly instead of leaping straight off (the exception being around 3:30, but in that case it’s onto a loose, relatively soft surface). They’re always looking around for the next place to go, always surveying their surroundings. When Anthow is on the roof, notice he never steps in any of the puddles, instead skirting around them. Akmao’s spider-slide thing cuts his drop distance in half. They’re putting safety first, and still managing to be extremely fast.

They’re highly specialized. If you pay close attention, you don’t actually see a whole lot of variety in the techniques each traceur utilizes. They found a suite of three or for moves that work in multiple situations and got really  good at those moves. If you aren’t going to devote a huge portion of your life to parkour training but still want to be able to use it to survive post-Zday, this is going to be crucial.

This video highlights what’s really great about parkour, and how utilitarian it can be. Applying these lessons to a survival situation is straightforward, and highly illuminating. Well done, gentlemen.

Need Something? I Can Get it.

In one of my first posts, I hit on the concept of roles. The idea is fairly obvious: different techniques are going to be more or less useful depending on what you’re doing. I’m going to go into more detail on each of the roles, starting with the scavenger.

A scavenger’s role is simple on paper: get into the city, find supplies, and get out. A scavenger might also be tasked with running supplies from one base to another. In either case, the key is to move quickly through the environment while attracting as little attention as possible.

In addition to parkour, a scavenger will most benefit from stealth/infiltration tactics: being able to hide, move, and open doors and windows without being seen or heard. They’ll also want to focus their parkour training on asymmetrical techniques, with a lot of emphasis on running with a duffel bag.

Safety Vault

Image courtesy of

The Safety vault is going to be your bread and butter (Editor’s Note: I don’t have my safety vault tutorial done yet, hopefully next week UPDATE: Here it is!). It’s useful indoors and outdoors, in fairly close quarters, it’s fast, and it doesn’t use a whole lot of energy. Plus, it doesn’t take much modification to do it with a bag, which is crucial, since the whole reason you’re there is to gather supplies.


Like any traceur, a scavenger should be proficient in rolling, though it’s less important for them than for, say, the scout (which I’ll talk about later), or even a decoy (which I’ll talk about much later). Scavengers stick mostly to the ground, only going higher if there are supplies on an upper story in a building. That said, sometimes the best path away has a drop, and you’ll need to be able to roll out of it. It’s also useful to recover if you trip or fall. Rolling is a little more difficult with a bag, though possible with practice.

parkour roll

Image courtesy of

Climbing and wall-runs aren’t going to be as useful for a scavenger. It’s certainly useful for a quick (if often temporary) evasion, but it’s difficult to mount a ledge or wall with something in your hand (bags aren’t much different than normal, though).

A scavenger is probably going to want to stick to these basics. Most other techniques (kong vaults, underbars, precision jumping/landing, turn vaults, etc…) are more trouble than they’re worth for you: they tent to be slower, and use both hands, and you’d be better off finding an alternative route through an area if one of the basic techniques can’t be used.

That said, there is one advanced technique that could prove very useful for a scavenger: the gate vault. This is a very fast technique for climbing over fences or narrow walls, and only takes minor modifications to perform with a bag or while carrying something.

gate vault

Image courtesy of

So there you have it. If you want to help your group by gathering crucial supplies, these are the skills you’ll need. I’ll give more detail on each of these techniques, along with other roles, in later posts. In the mean time, good luck, and keep surviving.

5 reasons you don’t want to see parkour in The Walking Dead

Daniel Ilabaca crappily photoshopped into "The Walking Dead" cast

Images courtesy of AMC and Daniel Ilabaca

No matter what you may have thought of Season 2, we all have a soft spot in our hearts for AMC’s The Walking Dead. As a traceur and zombie survival enthusiast, I know I’d love to see my favorite discipline represented on the show. We’ve got gun enthusiasts, crossbowmen, and other survivalists, so why not parkour?

Lots of reasons, some artistic, some practical. I’ll talk about a lot of them here, but I’m not going to try to dispel them. Believe it or not, I think having a character (or two) proficient in parkour would likely hurt its image as a viable survival skill.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are 5 reasons why a traceur in TWD would be bad for parkour:

1) It’s not in the comics.
Obviously, the series has taken some liberties with the source material, but inventing a completely new character who can do totally badass things is taking it a bit too far. Especially now, when they’d be competing for screen time with the other new badass, sword-wielding Michonne.

2) Most people don’t understand. While parkour has definitely gained mainstream exposure in recent years, it’s been in the realm of sports or performance art, rather than as a survival skill. The general consensus -when it’s discussed at all – seems to be that it wouldn’t be very practical, for various reasons. We’re doing our best to dispel this misconception, but if it ever crossed the writers’ minds (which is unlikely), they probably dismissed it out of hand.

3) They’d do the “parkour” wrong. When most people think of parkour, they’re actually thinking of freerunning. That’s what you see when people are doing flips and flying handstands and other big, flashy moves that don’t actually accomplish anything. I’m not knocking it – hey, some of my best friends are freerunners – but in terms of locomotion, those moves aren’t very valuable. Still, that’s what comes to mind when most people think of parkour, and it is really impressive-looking, so we’d probably see a lot of flips and gainers off boxes for no reason, which would further cement the feeling that parkour is a useless skill to have in a survival situation.

4) The character wouldn’t get much screen time. The Walking Dead is as much about the group interactions as it is about escaping zombies. And as we’ve already discussed, you’re most likely going to be alone or in pairs when doing anything requiring the use of parkour. So you’re either off contributing to the group by yourself while the important characters are interacting in meaningful ways, or you’re in the background being useless while the important characters are interacting in meaningful ways.

5) They’d be a dick at best, a villain at worst. As mentioned, parkour isn’t generally something whole families practice together (though there are exceptions), so any character introduced would likely be a loner. It would be really, really easy to play to stereotypes here, and make the traceur a young twenty-something, rebellious youth without regard for others. This character would be selfish and disruptive and would endanger the group without pause because he knows he can get away. This would only promote the view of parkour as a fringe sport, and associate it with delinquency (much like the stigma skateboarding deals with)

Okay, but they don’t have to be a loner, you say: what about a whole group of parkour athletes? Honestly, that would be even worse. If the writers decided to introduce a group of traceurs it would likely be in the form of a rival survivor “gang” who would compete with Rick and his group for supplies. Given that they’re more mobile and likely better at obtaining said supplies, they’d instantly be branded as villains. And we definitely don’t want that.

This isn’t to say that there’s no way that a character who practices parkour could be written into The Walking Dead to cast it as a useful survival skill, or that you couldn’t make a traceur who works well in the group and the mythos. It’s just that I doubt the writers would. I’m thinking I might give it a shot, though, so stay tuned.

In other news, I think I’m going to drop down to one post a week. Work and family doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging, so unless ZET miraculously becomes my full-time job, I’m going to have to commit to a little less. I’m also about ready to start getting into the actual training part of this thing, which is going to take more time (diagrams, pictures, and more in-depth posts). Thanks for understanding, and I hope you stick around.

Step By Step

You’re in an office building, or maybe an apartment complex. You’re running for your life, being pursued by a handful of zombies, the fast kind. You don’t want to risk the elevator, so you head for the stairwell.


Complete with weird camera angle

Smart, but now what?

Stairs are slow to navigate safely, and treacherous to descend quickly. It’s easy to slip and roll an ankle if you’re not careful, but take your time and you’ll certainly be overrun by the much faster, reckless zombies. We need a way to go down stairs quickly, without such risk. Fortunately, there is such a way.

WARNING: This technique is high-impact, and will damage tour knees with prolonged use. Understand it, and practice it just enough to become proficient, but ZET does not advocating taking stairs like this all the time. You will wreck your knees. You’ve been warned.

The fastest way to take stairs is to gallop down them sideways. Don’t try picturing that just yet, it’s not going to make sense. Instead, find some flat ground, spread your feet about shoulder-width apart, and shuffle sideways, keeping your feet in a line. Make sure your feet never cross and work on the gallop rhythm: ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.

Now apply that same footwork to the stairs. It doesn’t really matter which direction you turn, but you’re better off facing the handrail, if there is one. Place your front foot two steps below your back foot:

Foot placement when heading down stairs


Now shuffle your feet like you did on the flat ground. Your back foot should land two steps below the step your front foot just left, followed immediately by your front foot another two steps below that. It’s hard to describe in text or with pictures, but eventually I’ll have a video up to show you. Again, the rhythm is important: ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.

A word on the jump
It’s important that your shuffle have as little bounce as possible. This will minimize the impact on each “landing,” and make your descent smoother, less jarring. Slide your rear hand along the handrail (if there is one) to help keep your balance and control the height of your jump.

If the stairs aren’t too long, that’ll be the end of it: you’ll hit the bottom of the stairs, shift back into a run, and be off. For longer flights or multiple flights, though, you can start to lengthen your jump, so instead of skipping a single step, you’re skipping two, then three, then four. Your actual steps are (back-to-front) are still only two steps apart, but each pair of steps spreads out further and further. So ba-dum, ba-dum becomes ba-dum… ba-dum.
You should only start lengthening your jump if you’re really comfortable with the spacing of the stairs and the rhythm of your own steps.

Taking something with you

Technique doesn’t really change if you have something in your hand: Just hold it in your front hand (remember, your back hand should be on the railing). The difficulty comes when you try to carry a bag. Every time you land you put pressure on the bag straps, and if you’re not careful, you’ll tear the strap where it connects to the bag. The best way to mitigate this is to take the strap out of the equation if possible: Hold your bag by the handles if you have them. If not, figure out some way to hold the bag with one arm, either by bunching up the fabric or wrapping your arm down over the whole thing.

holding a bag on the way down stairs

Again, this is hard on your knees (especially when you start lengthening your jumps), and you still have to be mindful not to roll your ankles, but when you absolutely need to make it down in a hurry, this is the fastest, safest way.

Run For Your Lives… However You Want

So I guess I made yesterday’s announcement a little prematurely… The RFYL thing just fell through. I honestly didn’t expect it to happen when I first contacted them, but they responded favorably, and as we kept progressing I got so excited about it that I jumped the gun. Here’s what happened:

I contacted them about three weeks ago, explained who I was and what I do, and proposed a partnership, where I’d come up to the Washington run and give workshops to runners before their leg started. I wasn’t asking to get paid, but I was hoping I could swing a free registration out of the deal. This was about two days after I’d launched ZET, I had made like one real post (aside from the “hey, I’m here!” intro post), and even expect a response. So when they replied the next day with a counter-proposal (a free sponsor’s booth and a small training area near the start line where I could help people 1-on-1), I was surprised, and really excited about the prospect.

Things progressed well over the next two weeks: They told me the types of obstacles they would have, the types of zombies they’d be using (neither of which I can tell you 😛 ), and I told them what types of techniques I would teach, and what sort of props I’d have with me.We discussed liability waivers, and registration paperwork (they did agree to comp me a race), etc.. My last correspondence with Reed Street Productions (the parent company behind RFYL) was very reassuring: “Everything looks good. I just need to make one last pass with the coordinators, and I’ll have a confirmation for you tomorrow.” This, coupled with a previous unintentional leak about the partnership, led me to make the announcement Wednesday night.

Unfortunately, Thursday brought with it not a confirmation, but an apology: They cited a lack of space, and vague liability and security risks. I contacted them today and talked out the specifics, offered alternatives, etc.. It turns out that Reed Street is at a huge risk unless I have insurance covering me and anyone I taught up to a Million dollars. There really wasn’t anything else for me to do except accept their apology and wish them luck.

I don’t blame Reed Street for their reticence, or for “leading me on.” It wasn’t their fault, sometimes these things just don’t materialize the way we’d like them to. To their credit, they offered me a sponsor booth at a huge discount as compensation, but I respectfully declined.

Long story short, I won’t be going to Run For Your Lives Washington, but I still encourage everyone else to consider it. There’s still time to register if you want to go. For those of you who do go, have fun and good luck!

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.

Welcome, Survivor!

This site isn’t ready for prime-time yet. at this point it’s mostly placeholder stuff. But coming soon I’ll have all the tools you need to survive and evade the walking dead in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Here’s what I have planned:

  • Video Tutorials: Explanations for how (and why) to do the many common parkour maneuvers you’ll need to escape zombies. These are the essentials: vaults, rolls, climbing, etc…
  • Modifications: I’m going to talk about how to execute these maneuvers while holding something in one hand, or carrying a bag. These are important things to learn, people!
  • Roles of Parkour in the Zombie Apocalypse: As a Traceur, your skills are going to be valuable in a number of different capacities. I’ll detail each one, and talk about which maneuvers are going to be most useful for each role.
  • Book Classes: I teach several workshops that discuss these tactics, and feature in-depth explanations and games. I’ll have information on scheduling and pricing available here.
  • Merchandise? I’m not sure about this one yet. We’ll have to see what happens.

Stick around, and see where we go! The Zombie Apocalypse is coming. Will you be ready?