Many people mistakenly think that Parkour and Free Running are the same thing. Parkour is an individual sport; by training Parkour you aim to gain a mind-body connection which you have never previously experienced. Free Running is the art of movement – adding personality and expression into what you do.
Parkour has been around since the ages when man figured out how to escape predators by efficiently moving through the environment. However Parkour as we know it originates from George Herbert and his discipline “Le Methode Naturelle.” This method was based on perfection of what Herbert described as essential human movements: to walk, run, climb, crawl, balance, lift, throw, swim, and self defense. David Belle and his friends trained with le methode naturelle, tweaked it a bit, formed a group called Yamakasi, and called their training method “L’Art Du Deplacement.” Over time the term l’art du deplacement was changed to Parkour and has been “Parkour” since the 1980’s.
Free Running was developed by Sebastien Foucan, a member of Yamakasi, who just wanted to encourage freedom of expression into his own movements. Free Running is creativity and captivity of your own personal movements. If Parkour is development of your mind and body, then Free Running is giving that new found mind and body a soul to captivate itself and others around.
Another way to differentiate the two is that Parkour is the quickest way from point A to point B. While free runners may take a more roundabout way to get to their point B they incorporate more theatrics. For example: if a free runner and a traceur (a traceur is one who practices Parkour) both come to the same wall, a traceur would immediately jump or vault over the wall while a free runner would do a wall flip before continuing up and over the wall.
One more thing worth noting is that with Free Running there are competitions. Free Running can be done in finite areas while Parkour cannot be. Free Running is also the more social of the two. You learn new techniques not fully for yourself but for the admiration of others. Parkour however, is all about improving yourself and your mind-body connection. Parkour is not about flashy tricks, it is the development of you coming into yourself. It is an individual sport, and there is no victor or loser, just self improvement.
Both Parkour and Free Running make motion an art and connect one to their inner self.
Article by Griffin Kennedy
Photo by Alan Milligan