For people who are new to either discipline or don’t know much about them, it is easy to think that Parkour and Freerunning are the same. This confusion stems from their obvious similarities in that they both involving running, leaping and jumping over obstacles while navigating the urban space. They are, in fact, different practices with different philosophies and aims. The crucial factor in their difference is that Parkour is more about efficiency, whilst Freerunning is more personal and centres around self expression and creativity.
The practice was founded in France in the 1980s and the word, ‘Parkour’ was coined in 1998 by David Belle, derived from the french word meaning ‘route’ or ‘course’. It involves negotiating your way over any terrain, not only overcoming obstacles, but using them to your advantage to achieve the most productive route. When practiced in an urban space, it can involve climbing over rooftops and leaping across buildings, which it is most publicly famous for. Parkour values efficiency of movement and knowledge of the landscape over creativity or acrobatics, with one of its motto’s being: “Be strong, be useful”.
Freerunning is similar in terms of its often urban setting and its aims of traversing fluidly through the envioment, utilising any obstacles. As a practice, it is an offshoot of Parkour and the term was introduced by Sebastien Toucan in 2003, however it is not merely a direct translation of the french Parkour movement. It is often thought of as more inclusive than parkour as it is less strict and more centred around creativity. The main principle of freerunning is self expression by moving through the environment, while parkour is about your efficiency of getting from A to B. For this reason free running will often contain more acrobatics such as flips and twists.
If you’re a Freerunner, into Parkour, or would like to try your hand at either practice, Streetmotion are specialists for urban sports in the South West of England. We run classes and workshops for all abilities and all ages. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information.