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Free Running

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60px-Wikipedia.png There is more information available on this subject at Free Running on the English Wikipedia.

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 maneuvers. Although often the two are physically similar, the mindsets of each are vastly different.


Heavily influenced by Sébastien Foucan and inspired by the similar art of displacement (parkour), which was founded by Foucan and his childhood friends 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. 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". He explains that everyone has their way of doing parkour and they shouldn't follow someone elses 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. 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 practiced by the founders in the same way as it is practiced 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 organization 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.


Main article: Free Running Movements

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.


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.

Mirror's EdgeEdit

Parkour is the main concept of Mirror's Edge and is used to get through the city and reach objectives. Unlike most parkour/free running games, you play as the protagonist Faith in first person. In Mirror's Edge, runners use the art of parkour to transmit physical objects (such as papers) in bags and containers from one point to another.

Almost always throughout the game, the player is in a first-person point of view that makes the game seem more realistic, immersive, and gives a good sense of control. The whole game revolves around the use of parkour and is the main focus of gameplay, despite the minor FPS aspects. Overall, this makes the game extremely original and fun to play, and it delivers a fresh and exciting gaming experience to the player.

60px-Wikipedia.png There is more information available on this subject at Free Running on the English Wikipedia.


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