Free running was inspired by Parkour and embraces elements of tricking and street stunts, which are considered by the parkour community to be inefficient and not parkour. Initially, the term "freerunning" was used interchangeably with parkour, it is not certain whether freerunning was initially supposed to be different to Parkour. However, as free runners became interested in aesthetics as well as useful movement, the two became different disciplines. The term Freerunning was created by Guillaume Pelletier and embraced by Foucan to describe his "way" of doing parkour. Foucan summarizes the goals of Freerunning as using the environment to develop yourself and to always keep moving and not go backwards.
While Freerunning and parkour share many common techniques, they have a fundamental difference in philosophy and intention. The main aim of parkour is the ability to quickly access areas that would otherwise be inaccessible and the ability to escape pursuers, which means the main intention is to clear their objects as efficiently as they can, while Freerunning emphasizes self development by "following your way". Foucan frequently mentions "following your way" in interviews, 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. Freerunning is commonly misinterpreted as being solely focused on aesthetics and the beauty of a 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. In Freerunning you may employ movements of your choosing. You might also do certain movements solely for their aesthetic value and the challenge of execution. Freerunning 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, Freerunning and L'Art du Deplacement are all different names of this discipline.
See also: List of flips
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:
Instead of vaulting over a railing with a monkey vault, which may be the most efficient way, the athlete adds a 360 degree spin along the horizontal axis to make the movement more aesthetically pleasing, as well as increasing their coordination.
A frontflip is executed over a wall or other obstacle, usually with a large drop on the other side. It is referred to as a diving frontflip (or dive front) because the athlete is required to dive over the obstacle before initiating the tuck.
This is similar to the wallrun parkour technique, in which the athlete runs at a tall wall and pushes against the wall with their foot to propel themselves up the wall. The only difference between this movement and the 360 wallrun is that a 360 degree spin is carried out after kicking off the wall and before grabbing the top of the wall.
This is an advanced form of the palm spin. The athlete runs to a wall, jumps, places both hands on the wall, and vertically rotates 360 degrees while remaining in contact with the wall. Pushing off with one hand helps the rotation.
This is basically a one handed wall spin. The non-contact hand and arm is spread away from the wall, much like a wing.
The athlete runs to a wall, places a foot on, and does a backflip off of the wall.
Broken Arm Spin
This is a wall spin in which the athlete rotates around the top arm, or arm closest to the wall.
Another contentious issue that may either begin to make a rift between the parkour and the free running 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 although they do hold competitions, 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.
In many films starring Jackie Chan, a lot of parkour and free running like moves can be seen, before the invention of both (for example in the Police Story film series, Rumble in the Bronx, Mr. Nice guy)
Many martial arts films produced in Hong Kong in the 80s, particularly the ones involving Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao and the Hong Kong martial art stunt teams, often used free running like flips, stunts and movements mixed into modern martial arts fight choreographies.
The French film Taxi (1998), produced by Luc Besson, features the first on-screen appearance of free running.
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 (Sbastien Foucan, Johann Vigroux and Jrme Ben Aoues) as they demonstrate their skills on the landmarks of London.
The 2003 Thai film Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior starring Tony Jaa contains various scenes of free running and parkour coupled with Muay Thai fighting.
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.
The action film Casino Royale (2006 film), stars Sbastien Foucan as a bombmaker near the beginning trying to escape through construction. He helped direct this scene.
In the 2007 film Blood & Chocolate, the fluid movement of the otherworldly characters in the film was depicted through free running, one scene in the city and two in the forest.
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, traceur and free runner Cyril Raffaelli is shown using motions from both free running and parkour.
In the 2008 Hindi film Love Story 2050, there is a scene where the hero incorporates free running and parkour moves to try and catch the heroine (Priyanka Chopra) moving in a bus.
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 and parkour during the intense action scenes.
The 2008 comic book film Punisher: War Zone, features a trio in-league with the main villain who use free running as their primary means of transportation.
The 2009 comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop, features a group of criminals which uses free running, along with skateboarding and bicycle tricks as their way of quickly moving through the mall.
Core Design released a free running game, under the same name in 2007, for the PSP.
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 erroneously as parkour techniques. A character with a French accent teaches how to wallflip, climb up the wall, and do multiple flips.
In Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, there is a user-made map called dm_freerunner featuring an environment specifically designed for trickjumps and other free running techniques
In Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II, the player can use free running at any time, and can use it to scale buildings or get around obstacles.
Mirror's Edge: a critically acclaimed Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC game with the main focus being on a gang of outlaws called "Runners," who excel and specialize in parkour.
Try-Synergy is developing a Wii game called "Free Running" in which you use free running techniques to complete goals.
Madonna has released a video for her song "Jump", which features parkour and free running extensively throughout. 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."
Bon Jovi has a teenager using elements of parkour and free running to get to a party in the video "It's My Life."
Example the single "watch the sun come up" was remixed by "Devils Gun Zeitgeist" which features Tim Livewire Sheiff
State Radio has traceurs from UMass Amherst in the music video for Knights Of Bostonia.
A commercial featuring traceur David Belle, was made for the BBC.
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, 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 the Heroes episode Truth and Consequences, Monica Dawson learns with her adoptive muscle memory ability how to do some free running stunts 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 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 Sbastien Foucan helped K-Swiss develop the Ariake, the first shoe for free running and parkour 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.
"3Run" the expert parkour and free running team begin a fitness challenge in March 2009 documented on the online fitness channel 'LA Muscle'. Watch their progress with the help of LA Muscle expert Ben Lauder Dykes on lamuscle.tv
Luci Romberg, professional stunt woman and free runner, performed in an Incredible Edible Egg Commercial demonstrating her free running abilities.
In the second and third of John Twelve Hawks' books of the Fourth Realm Trilogy, The Dark River and The Golden City, 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.
In the Terry Pratchett Discworld novel Pyramids, the main character is a trainee assassin who enjoys "edificing", which is the local name for free running.
Free running Videos
Video of Free running in Pennsylvania
Video of Free running in New York City
Video of Free running in Berkshire
^ Urban Freeflow Team. "Sebastian Foucan interview". Archived from the original on 2006-05-08. http://www.parkourpedia.com/index.php?id=1,12,0,0,1,0. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
^ Sbastien Foucan (10/06/06). "FREERUNNING". http://worldwidejam.tv/foucan.jam.parkour.html. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
^ Drew Taylor (12/03/08). "Difference between Parkour & Freerunning". parkour-online.com. http://www.parkour-online.com/parkour-and-freerunning.html. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
^ a b Sbastien Foucan (10/06/06). "FREERUNNING". worldwidejam.tv. http://worldwidejam.tv/foucan.jam.parkour.html. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
^ a b ez. "Sbastien Foucan interview". urbanfreeflow.com. http://urbanfreeflow.com/the_core_level/pages/archives/foucan_interview.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
^ kaos (2007-07-31). "The Public Misconception of Parkour". neparkour.com. http://www.neparkour.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1174627598/0#0. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
^ "Blood and Chocolate". http://www.mydarkestsecrets.com/.+2007. http://www.mydarkestsecrets.com/. Retrieved 2008-07-16. "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."
^ YouTube: Madonna's video for "Jump"
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