Dynamic Arts - Climbing and Buildering

Here is a selection of techniques which may be used when a jump is not enough. The first set of climbing methods is used for climbing gaps between two rock faces, from a couple of metres, down to a couple of centimetres.

Horizontal bridge, stem, or spider

In a very wide space, press the hands against one wall, the feet against the other, with the body lying horizontally in between. Walk up the wall, facing downwards.

Vertical bridge, stem

In a narrower space, about one metre wide, press the left hand and foot against one wall, and the right hand and foot against the other wall. Climb up, usually hands then feet then hands then feet, with the body in a vertical direction.

Chimneying, or back and foot

So called, because this is how children used to climb up chimneys to clean them. Although the two methods above are strictly chimneying methods, I have separated them for clarity.

Place the back against one wall, and lift the feet onto the opposite wall. Move one foot beneath the hands, flat against the wall, and push up with both legs. Return the foot to the opposite wall, higher than the other. Now place the other foot beneath the hands and repeat the motion. It is possible to keep the hands pushing against one wall and the feet against the other, and walk up on hands and feet, but this requires the right sized gap and good friction. The narrower the gap, the more likely knees will come into play. Back and foot, or often back and knee, is the safest method of chimneying, as you can stop and have a rest.

When the gap is too thin to squeeze your body into, other techniques, such as laybacks and jamming come into play. A layback is a technique requiring some commitment as there is no rest once it is begun. Jamming usually hurts, and hands that have been jamming often bleed.


In a narrow crack between finger width and about half a metre, lift a foot up onto one side, and pull with one hand against the other side at about chest height. Lift the remaining foot, and place the remaining hand above the other. Start huffing and puffing and move upwards.


Hand jam

A hand jam presses the back of the hand against one side of a gap, and fills the space with the muscle of the thumb by drawing the thumb across the hand so that the tip of the thumb moves towards the base of the little finger. When locked in place, this can provide enough of an anchor to lift the body.

Fist jam

A fist jam uses the wedge shape of the fist and the muscles to either side of the hand to provide enough grip to pull up on.

Foot jam

A foot is pushed into a crack and twisted to lock it in place.

There are other jams which come within the sphere of climbing, but they are of an extreme nature and unlikely to be part of everyday Parkour activity. When you end up jamming your head in a space for extra leverage, you are more probably climbing than flowing along a route in the traditional style of Parkour.

Mantelshelf or Climb-up

Anyone who has climbed onto a roof or the top of a wall will have done a mantelshelf. It is a move something like getting out of a swimming pool the cool way, but without the support of the water. Continuing the water theme, the alternative, when strength is lacking, is a bellyflop.

A really cool mantelshelf finishes in a bunny hop over the edge, but more often uses a heel hook or foot placed out to the side for leverage.

After an arm jump, to push up onto the wall, it is necessary to change the position of the hands from the grab so that the palms are flat on the surface before pushing up.


Any method of moving sideways across a wall.

Slab climb

Sometimes, friction, poor handholds and small deformations are enough to allow upward passage on an angled surface. It is referred to as slab climbing, but the same techniques will get you up the angled edge of a wall, gripping one corner with each hand and walking up the angled bit.

Layaway or sidepull

A one move layback to reach a hold off to the side. Usually, the body faces the wall and the free foot is left dangling.

Heel hook

Sometimes, at the limits of your magnificence, a heel hook might come in handy for extra pull up power. Itís a bit like getting out of a swimming pool the uncool way.


A en-route jump for an otherwise out of reach handhold.


Anything up to the size of an apple can be pinched with the thumb on one side and the fingers on the other. This was why God designed - or evolution evolved - our opposable thumb. If you can hang off two pinches on wooden beams youíre pretty good. If you can hang off one, youíre probably orange and hairy.


It is also possible to pinch large objects with the arms and move up in little hops where you let go with both hands together and grab a little higher, before moving the feet up.



A move where you engineer a foot high up to the side, and then slowly move your weight over it and stand up without the use of additional handholds. The remaining techniques are more general and apply to specific structures.

Rope climb

Rope climbing techniques can be used to climb narrow poles like scaffolding or signposts. Either wrap your legs around the rope or pole and shuffle up like a caterpillar (way uncool), or pull up had over hand with the legs in a piked position (way cool) or kicking madly because you havenít the strength (cool in an uncool sort of fashion).

Drainpipe climb

The burglarís favourite. Place both hands behind the drainpipe and a foot to either side. Walk up the wall pulling on the drainpipe. This description is for the old cast iron drainpipes. Climbing a plastic drainpipe this way is dangerous and probably destructive. A lamp post against a wall can also be climbed this way providing it is strong enough and well rooted.

Pillar climb

A climb up a square or rectangular section pillar, possibly following a cat jump onto said pillar. Climbing a pillar requires good friction between the surface and shoe. Brick surfaces are best. Painted surfaces are best left alone. To practice this technique, place the hands around opposite corners of the pillar, and lift the feet up fairly close together on alternate sides of the nearest corner. Lean slightly left and lift the left hand, then slightly right and lift the right hand. Do a little bunny hop to move the feet up. After a few climbs like this, you should be able to move up left hand, left foot, right hand, right foot and so on.

Fingertip climb

If you have strong fingers, you might be able to climb using the gaps in the cement between bricks. If attempting to do so, shoes with stiff transverse support and sharp sides to the soles will help.


See also pole climb or monkey climb in the barwork section.