Free running

Free running

Free running is a physical art, in which participants (free runners) use the urban and rural areas to perform movements through its structures focused on freedom and beauty. It incorporates efficient movements from parkour, adds aesthetic vaults and other acrobatics, such as tricking and street stunts, creating an athletic and aesthetically pleasing way of moving. It is commonly practiced at gymnasiums and in urban areas that are cluttered with obstacles.

The term "free running" was coined during the filming of "Jump London", as a way to present parkour to the English-speaking world. However, free running and parkour are separate, distinct concepts — a distinction which is often missed due to the aesthetic similarities. Parkour as a discipline comprises efficiency, whilst free running embodies complete freedom of movement — and includes many acrobatic manoeuvres. Although often the two are physically similar, the mindsets of each are vastly different. [cite web
author=Urban Freeflow Team
title=Sebastian Foucan interview
] The founder Sébastien Foucan defines free running as a discipline to self development, following your own way. [cite web
author=Sébastien Foucan


Heavily influenced by Sébastien Foucan and inspired by the similar art of displacement (parkour) which was founded by Foucan and his childhood friend David Belle, Yann Hnautra, Laurent Piemontesi and Chau Belle Dinh, free running embraces elements of tricking and street stunts, which are considered by the parkour community to be inefficient and not parkour. Initially, the term "free running" was used interchangeably with parkour. However, as free runners became interested in aesthetics as well as useful movement, the two became different disciplines. The term "free running" was created by Guillaume Pelletier and embraced by Foucan to describe his "way" of doing parkour.cite web
author=Sébastien Foucan
] Foucan summarizes the goals of free running as using the environment to develop yourself and to always keep moving and not go backwards.

While free running and parkour share many common techniques, they have a fundamental difference in philosophy and intention. The aims of parkour are reach, the ability to quickly access areas that would otherwise be inaccessible, and escape, the ability to evade pursuers, which means the main intention is to clear their objects as efficiently as they can, while free running emphasizes self development by "following your way". Foucan frequently mentions "following your way" in interviews,cite web
title=Sébastien Foucan interview
] and the "Jump" documentaries. He explains that everyone has their way of doing parkour and they shouldn't follow someone else's way of doing it, instead they should do it their way. Free running is commonly misinterpreted as being solely focused on aesthetics and the beauty of the certain vault, jump, etc. Although a lot of free runners choose to focus on aesthetics, that is just "their way", the goal however is still self development.

The easiest way to explain the differences between the two activities is that in parkour you try to get from A to B in the most efficient and natural way, which could be exercised in case of a real threat, whereas in free running you may employ movements of your choosing. You might also do certain movements solely for their aesthetic value and the challenge of execution. Free running is essentially complete freedom of movement.

However, it must be noted that not one of the founders and developers of the discipline, apart from Foucan, see two separate disciplines in parkour and freerunning. L'Art du deplacement, the original name, was practised by the founders in the same way as it is practised today by those same individuals. The discipline was not originally about 'moving from a to b' but rather was a way of testing oneself physically and mentally, to see if one was 'strong' (hence the Lingala term Yamakasi meaning 'strong man, strong spirit'). Parkour Generations, the largest global collective of first and second generation traceurs, explains in several articles and video interviews that while acrobatics is indeed a separate practice, parkour and freerunning and l'art du deplacement are all different names for one discipline.


Sébastien Foucan used the term "free running" to describe a form of physical exercise, called parkour, that he practised which was showcased in the Channel 4 documentaries "Jump London" and "Jump Britain". The term has been in use since at least the early 1980s when it was used to describe a more adventurous form of jogging where the runner would incorporate a variety of movements transforming a jogging session into a more demanding, enjoyable and expressive physical experience. Jumping and tac-ing obstacles, rolling, and a variety of stretching movements would be used to break the regulated physical patterns of movement involved in basic running/jogging. It is also a good way to keep fit.

2008 saw the crowning of first ever Freerun World Champion. Gabriel Nunez of the United states, claimed the title in an event held at The Roundhouse in London on the 3rd September. The event was sponsored by Barclaycard and was organized by Urban Free Flow. A very controversial event due to no world organisation for free running exists to host such an event and participants were invited rather than being able to qualify. As a result the majority of participants were actually part of Urban Free Flow's team resulting in potentially biased results.


Moves specific to free running are not easy to define, as most free runners use a combination of street stunts and parkour techniques. Free running focuses on freedom and beauty of movements, so many parkour techniques, such as vaults, may be carried out in a more aesthetically pleasing way, despite the fact that it may decrease the efficiency of the move.

Street stunts tend to be performed on flat ground or off a height, whereas free running movements tend to involve the use of obstacles or the general idea of movement from one place to another.

Examples of movements which are more likely to be classed as free running moves than parkour or street stunts include:


Another contentious issue that may either begin to make a rift between the parkour/freerunning communities or may actually strengthen their bond is the idea of professional and amateur competition. From the start the parkour community has been always against the idea of serious competition as it violates the foundations of the philosophy of parkour. Sebastien Foucan mentions in an interview that he doesn't like competition and it's not "his way", but it may be someone else's "way".

The perceived conflict between free running and parkour occurred when the term parkour was translated as freerunning for the English-speaking public, and the misconception arose that they were separate disciplines. The founders and developers of the discipline have never stated this is the case, and are now working to rectify this misunderstanding. Despite this, still there is a lot of discussion on what is free running and confusion in its definition. [cite web
title=The Public Misconception of Parkour

Popular culture


*The French film "Taxi" (1998), produced by Luc Besson, features the first on-screen appearance of free running/parkour.
*The French film "Yamakasi" (2001) is about a group of seven free-running specialists (the Yamakasi of the film's title) who resolve to use their skills in order to undertake some highly energetic burglaries as a way to raise money to save a kid.
*The 2003 documentary "Jump London" follows French free runners (Sébastien Foucan, Johann Vigroux and Jérôme Ben Aoues) as they demonstrate their skills on the landmarks of London.
*The French film "Banlieue 13" (2004), produced by Luc Besson, features a large amount of free running, in addition to parkour.
*In the 2004 sequel to "Yamakasi", "Les Fils Du Vent", the Yamakasi move to Bangkok and battle the Yakuza and their Thai associates who are attempting to take over the city.
*In 2005 "Jump Britain" was produced as a follow-up to "Jump London".
*An action sequence near the beginning of the James Bond film "Casino Royale" (2006) features Sébastien Foucan being chased across a construction site, using free running to escape. (A few stunts were performed by a professional stuntman.) [cite web |url= |title=Curtis - Sébastien's stunt double |date=2006-11-29 | |accessdate=2007-05-14|quote=Curtis was hired to be a stunt double in the recent James Bond film "Casino Royale". He was on location in the Bahamas for 13 weeks working closely with Gary Powell, the stunt coordinator, to help plan and execute the opening chase scene.]
*In the 2007 film "Blood & Chocolate", the fluid movement of the otherworldy characters in the film was depicted through free-running, one scene in the city and two in the forest. [cite web |url= |title=Blood and Chocolate |date=2007 |publisher= |accessdate=2008-07-16|quote=At the behest of direct of photography Brendan Galvin, von Garnier drew additional inspiration from the physical discipline of free running. Free running is all about the elegance of movement that was very fitting for those who can transform into wolves. It proved to be a really interesting and visually attractive way in dealing with the high agility movement and stunts.]
*In the 2007 film "Live Free or Die Hard", there are two scenes in the beginning and end of the movie where French actor, martial artist and "traceur" Cyril Rafaelli is shown using motions from both free running and parkour.
*In the 2008 film "You Don't Mess with the Zohan",there are two free running sequences, one towards the beginning, and one towards the ending. These sequences include vaults and flips performed by members of Team Tempest doubling Adam Sandler.
*The 2008 action film "Wanted", features Free Running as well as "Parkour" during the intense action scenes.
*The 2008 action film "Babylon A.D", features traceurs Thomas Couetdic of Parkour Generations and David Belle utilising their movement skills to attempt to capture the hero, played by Vin Diesel.

Video games

*In ' and ', the Lara Croft character can perform various free running movements.
*"Æon Flux" has some free running movements.
*Core Design released a "free running" game, under the same name in 2007, for the PSP and Playstation 2.
*"Assassin's Creed", a game by developer Ubisoft Entertainment, features character movements and gameplay based on free running and parkour.
*In Activision's "Tony Hawk's American Wasteland", the character has the ability to leave the skateboard and perform some limited free running techniques — although in the game they are referred to as parkour techniques. A character with a French accent teaches how to wallflip, climb up the wall, and do multiple flips.
*In "Ninja Gaiden", Ryu Hayabusa performs some parkour movements and some free running.
*In "Rayman DS", the Rayman character can perform several free running moves.
*"Prince of Persia" has extensive free running moves that are performed by the main character. These slowly evolved from parkour to free running over the course of the game sequels.
*In the zombie game "Urban Dead", free running is a survivor skill that allows players to move between buildings without having to go outside, significantly lowering the chances of being attacked or being trapped outside.
*In "Mirror's Edge", an upcoming game that is currently in development at Digital Illusions CE, the player character utilizes free running to navigate the environment. [cite video |people=Lemne, Bengt (Interviewer), O'Brien, Owen (Interviewee) |date2=2008-02-29 |title=GDC 08 Mirror's Edge Interview |url= |format=WMV |publisher=Gamereactor |location= San Francisco, CA|accessdate=2008-05-12 |quote=We took a lot of inspiration from parkour and free running because we wanted to do quite acrobatic moves, not just running, so that's basically where the original idea came from.]
*In The Warriors ,Has some free running such as jumping over building rooftops and climbing fences.

Music videos

*Madonna has released a video for her song "Jump", which features parkour and free running extensively throughout. [ [ YouTube: Madonna's video for "Jump"] ] Also her music video "Hung Up" contains some clips of free running. For Madonna's "Confessions" tour, free running is heavily used for the choreography of the single "Jump".
*David Guetta has released a music video for his song "Love Don't Let Me Go (Walking Away)", which features free running extensively throughout.
*Eric Prydz has released a video for his song "Proper Education", which features free runner Daniel Ilabaca.
*Fort Minor has a video for their song "Remember the Name" that features several fans free running.
*3 Doors Down has *Gabriel Nunez a free runner from team Tempest, prevent a car accident in the video "It's Not My Time."


*In 2006, two free runners, John Kerr and Daniel Ilabaca, appeared on the British automotive show "Top Gear". It featured a race between the free runners and a Peugeot 207.
*On Saturday 9 June 2007, theClarifyme|date=May 2008 free runners appeared on "Britain's Got Talent", and made it through to the next round with their free-running display.
*In 2007 an advert for "The Friday Night Project" featured two free runners from urban freeflow acting as stunt doubles for the hosts.
*In a 2007 "Modern Marvels" episode, "Sticky Stuff", free running is shown while the show features "Stealth Rubber".
*In a "Heroes" episode, one of the heroes learns how to do a free-running stunt to break into a house. They used Team Tempest from Los Angeles to play the part.
*A group of free runners [Team Tempest & Friends] performed at the 2007 Taurus World Stunt Awards.
*On January 16, 2008 free runner Chase Armitage played the stunt double for an actor on The Bill who used free running (or parkour) techniques to evade police officers. On January 19, he appeared on Harry Hill's TV Burp in which he performed as a stunt double for Harry Hill in a spoof of The Bill's chase scene.
*Free running founder Sébastien Foucan helped K-Swiss develop the Ariake, the first free-running and parkour shoe in a line of five models. He appears in a commercial for K-Swiss, free running.
*Free runner Levi Meeuwenberg participated in the 2008 20th Ninja Warrior anniversary, becoming the last competitor standing until being eliminated by the cliff hanger in the third stage.


*In John Twelve Hawks' Book Two of the Fourth Realm trilogy, "Dark River", free running and runners are featured as part of the story.
*In the William Gibson novel "Spook Country", one of the main characters, a young Cuban named Tito, practices free running. He also had elements of Systema and a reference to the Orisha that mixed with the free walking mindset.


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