Saut du Chat ("Kong") Troubleshooter
I composed this guide in response to the many requests for help with saut du chats (from here on out I will refer to them as cat jumps). It is by no means perfect so if during the course of your reading you notice an error or exclusion, please say something and I will change it.
Okay, let's get down to business.
1) I'm scared of clipping my feet / My legs won't fit between my arms
This is by far the problem that plagues traceurs learning cat jumps the most, so don't worry, you're not alone. The mistakes you are making is keeping your butt too low, not tucking your legs tight enough and/or not pushing hard enough.
A common illusion people have about cat jumping is that you are simply supposed to jump through your arms. NO! Your arms are jumping just as much as your legs are. Once you jump and place your hands on the ledge be prepared to push. As your knees come to your your chest, push up and forward with your wrists and arms.
If pushing harder isn't working, have your friend watch you attempt a cat jump (somewhere safe such as your couch) and tell you where your butt is. Chances are that he/she will tell you they are at your elbow level. This is wrong. If you want to get any distance or clearance on your cat jumps you should have your rear at or above your head before you push off. LEAN FORWARD.
If you're getting your push down and your butt in the air1 but aren't clearing your obstacle, then you need to tuck your legs nice and tight. As you're traveling over the obstacle, bring your knees up to your chest hard (for heavyset people, this may be difficult. The solution is to work harder on the push and keeping your butt high).
2) I'm not getting enough distance from my cat jumps
For someone that can already cat jump, this problem should be simple to remedy. There are two ways to increase your cat jump2; the first is jumping farther from the obstacle and the second is pushing harder with your arms.
Find an obstacle to cat jump. Lay down a marker (unobtrusively) two feet in front of the obstacle. Place a second marker two feet behind the obstacle. Run up and take off at the first marker and cat jump the obstacle, push with all of your strength. Coming off of the obsticle your arms should be extended straight back with your palms up. You will have cleared the second marker if you did this right. Repeat this at least five times today. Tomorrow, move both of the markers a couple more inches away from the obstacle. Continue this regiment increasing a few inches on each side every day until you feel comfortable with your distance.
3) I'm too scared to cat jump.
There are several ways to deal with your fear. The best way is probably just definitely it up and committing, but until you make that decision, you can prepare with these strategies:
MONKEY PLANT: one tip to help with the fear is to do a monkey plant on the obstacle you are cat jumping. Once your body gets used to the feeling of diving into something, instead of planting your feet; lean forward with your rump in the air. Land safely on the ground and you've got a cat jump!
STAIR CATS: find a stairset of about 4 to 5 stairs, and practice cat jumping up the stairs from the bottom. This will help your body develop what is called "muscle memory". This means that the combination of dive, plant, tuck and butt-up will all combine until it is second nature. Also, If you clip your feet, there's no drop on the other side to injure yourself on.
CAT YO' COUCH: The sofa, the furniture industry's gift to traceurs. Learn to use it to it's full potential. Practice cat jumping from your floor, planting on the arm and landing (bailing?) on the cushions. This gets rid of your face-planting fears and really helps you learn to get your head down and your butt up.
Focus and Commit!
1 like you just don't care
2 This is about the point where "jump" becomes funny to say.